“Walking the walk” With Penny Bauder & Rita Katona

Every single human on this planet can be an environmental leader by “walking the walk” and setting an example through their own actions — every day. If you can say “if everyone lived on this planet the way I do, the planet would be healthier” that is a great place to start. Growing your impact […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Every single human on this planet can be an environmental leader by “walking the walk” and setting an example through their own actions — every day. If you can say “if everyone lived on this planet the way I do, the planet would be healthier” that is a great place to start. Growing your impact comes from sharing your experiences — finding a community of your “people” and sharing freely and generously with the world at large is what will inspire others to live more environmentally-conscious lives.

Ihad the pleasure of interviewing Rita Katona, Co-founder and Board Chair of So Good So You.

A reformed corporate retail leader, Rita left a big job at Target HQ in 2014 and started a little company, now So Good So You. She is an inspired plant-based foodie and is the innovation engine and a knowledge-bank for functional foods & ingredients. An avid runner and yoga & fitness instructor, Rita loves building wellness communities around people and planet. The So Good So You brand is the community, and its products are the vehicle for creating connections. The goal — do more good, together.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I’m Hungarian so I grew up in Hungary until we moved to the US when I was 8 years old. We lived in a suburb and our house had a massive garden so most of what I grew up eating was what we actually grew and cooked ourselves. Going out to restaurants was rare and fast food didn’t even exist. I recall walking or taking public transportation to most places, and being outside a LOT. I lived what we now might call a very “carbon-neutral lifestyle”, which is something I aspire to in my adulthood.

Was there an “aha moment” or a specific trigger that made you decide you wanted to become an environmental leader? Can you share that story with us?

One doesn’t need a catalyst these days to get fired up about sustainability — all anyone needs to do is turn on the news or watch one of the dozens of evidence-based documentaries that paint a grim picture of the plight of our planet. There are however, two areas of particular clarity for me which serve as guiding principles for my lifestyle.

I’ve been visiting Tulum Beach annually since 2008 and it has been difficult to witness the deterioration of such a special place. Long walks on the beach now involve picking up the remains of ocean plastic that washes up on the shore daily. Knowing the inadequacies of our recycling systems, I make daily choices to intentionally reduce my use of single-use plastics.

I’m also a vegetarian. I first stopped eating meat because I fell in love with my first fur-baby, a little white dog name Jack. I then learned about the health-benefits of a plant-based diet and the further connection of eating meat to the extremely environmentally-damaging practice of factory farming. I learned that a plant-based lifestyle was the most environmentally advantageous and personal health-supporting lifestyle and I was ALL IN. It’s been heartwarming to see the impact I can have on our friends, family and community, simply through leading by example.

Is there a lesson you can take out of your own story that can exemplify what can inspire a young person to become an environmental leader?

Every single human on this planet can be an environmental leader by “walking the walk” and setting an example through their own actions — every day. If you can say “if everyone lived on this planet the way I do, the planet would be healthier” that is a great place to start. Growing your impact comes from sharing your experiences — finding a community of your “people” and sharing freely and generously with the world at large is what will inspire others to live more environmentally-conscious lives.

Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?

Living more mindfully is at the core of So Good So You as a brand. In fact, we made For the Love of Body & Planet ™ our tagline because it is at the heart of everything we do. Our products are a way for us to connect with and build a community of likeminded individuals, so we can do more good together. We have the privilege to facilitate a platform for a community that thrives on the sharing of knowledge and who inspires us and each other to live healthy, sustainable lives. We actively seek ways to support them in this journey. In January 2020 we kicked of a tree-planting initiative to highlight one possible solution to climate change — this galvanized conversations and drove the planting of nearly 3,000 trees!

We are on the journey to be an increasingly environmentally sustainable company. We are not perfect, however every decision is put through the lens of sustainability.

  1. Our production facility and our headquarters run on 100% renewable energy. We love knowing that all of our products are not only made with love, but are also sustainably made with wind energy.
  2. We source our organic ingredients as close to the source as possible.
  3. Our packaging has always been 100% recycled and recyclable plastic, and we are thrilled to introduce the So Good So You BtrBtl ™, our biggest innovation for the planet to-date. So Good So You BtrBtl™ looks the same as any clear plastic bottle, but biodegrades at an accelerated rate in landfills* and converts to usable energy. Given the fact that 86% of plastic waste ends up in landfills in the US, regardless of proper recycling, BtrBtl™ is a complete life-cycle solution for our product packaging. BtrBtl™ will recycle the same as any plastic bottle with no negative impact on the recycling stream, while offering a significant improvement to the overall end-of-life results.

These exciting datapoints are based on ASTM D5526–94 testing of accelerated biodegradation, and more information is available at sogoodsoyou.com. We are thrilled to roll out BtrBtl for our entire line of functional probiotic shots carried in over 3500 stores nationwide in Q2 2020. All future launches of So Good So You products will be in the BtrBtl™. And we’re not stopping there — the technology and supply chain are a few years from scaling but we have our sights set on a future package that will be fully ocean-biodegradable.

Can you share 3 lifestyle tweaks things that the general public can do to be more sustainable or help address the climate change challenge?

Someone brilliant came up with Reduce/Reuse/Recycle!

  1. Carry a BPA-free reusable water bottle and fill up often! We all need to drink more water and we are so fortunate to live in a country where the public has access to clean, safe drinking water for free or at very little cost. Paying for bottled water is something most people can avoid completely, which will eliminate a lot of single-use plastic ending up in landfills
  2. Eat more veggies. And fruits, nuts, seeds, grains… and reduce consumption of animal products. Not everyone will give up meat and dairy completely, but everyone can shift their eating habits to be centered around plant-based foods which are scientifically proven to be superior for human health and planetary health.
  3. Mind Your Trash. Keeping track of what we are disposing of where makes us aware of the waste we generate and helps us all be more thoughtful about reducing our impact through proper disposal of recyclables, compostables, and landfill trash. This leads to us making more informed future purchasing decisions.

Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview: The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.

Greta Thunberg is a huge inspiration. She is the living embodiment of the idea that every single person has the power to make a difference and to create positive change. I am not a parent yet but my husband and I have been active godparents for 10 years, which is the basis for my opinion on 5 things parents should consider to inspire their kids to be responsible corporate citizens:

  1. Get outdoors and into nature as much as possible to give kids an appreciation for the gifts of Mother Nature we so often take for granted — sunshine, blue skies, clean air, healthy oceans and lakes, thriving forests, and what remains of our biodiversity. Create organic opportunities to educate about the importance of protecting the environment.
  2. Instill a culture of reducing unnecessary consumption. Teach them that high-quality items have a long use-life to steer them away from embracing a disposable lifestyle.
  3. Talk about trash — where things “go” when we throw them away, and set up appropriate trash, compost and recycling practices in the home.
  4. Expose children to a wide range of plant-based foods from an early age to set a strong foundation for a future plant-based lifestyle
  5. Volunteer with charities that align with environmental initiatives most interesting to your kids. For example, if you live near the ocean and your kids are into sea life, volunteer to clean up beaches/

Most importantly, lead by example because none of the above will have any meaning if it is inconsistent with your own actions.

How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?

I truly believe Profits for Purpose must be in the DNA of a brand to ensure enduring success. Our customers love hearing that our organic probiotic shots are made with renewable energy. Despite the increased cost, we gladly chose to use renewable wind energy to power our manufacturing facility and offices. While there is no direct correlation to sale, it is the right thing to do and I believe if it were measurable, would definitely be a positive ROI. Other decisions were harder — while we operated cafes, we paid up to 400% more for compostable straws and other compostable packaging than option for the “regular plastic” versions. Our customers told us they loved us for it. A more concrete example is with our new BtrBtl™. We’ve worked with our bottle supplier, a plastic converter and an additive manufacturer for over a year on this project. Ultimately we are landing on an exclusive bottle mold that will give us manufacturing efficiencies in our plant that over time, will drive increased profits. It’s a long game — and we’re in it for the right reasons, For the Love of Body & Planet™.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband Eric shares my values on health and sustainability and encouraged me to amplify my impact by switching tracks from climbing the corporate ladder to starting a business that aligned with our passion. We made this decision within a day of getting engaged on a beach in Mexico — based on the belief that we can make a greater impact by building a community and a platform than we can as individuals. Without his support and encouragement, there would be no So Good So You.

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement I seek to inspire is one of empowerment of individuals to embrace their impact based on the belief that every decision matters. Very few things we do have a neutral impact — most have a positive or negative impact. Thus by more individuals making more decisions mindfully, we can be an incredible collective positive force. Everyone Person Matters. Every Decision Matters.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

~The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

rita and jim carrey living fearlessly with lisa mcdonald

No Strings Attached ~ Rita Carrey

by Lisa McDonald

“Don’t pretend you know all the answers when you don’t” With Dr. William Seeds & Rita Reimers

by Dr. William Seeds

Rita Kakati-Shah and Uma: “You need to be laser focused and have superior organization skills”

by Ben Ari
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.