An interview by Katie Furmston, Head of Design & Research at Design Conformity, speaking to Evannah Jayne, the founder of Terran Industries, who discusses the company’s mission, services, and the challenges it faces in the field of sustainability.
In this interview, Evannah sheds light on the company’s unique approach to sustainability highlighting the importance of creating accessible sustainability solution. Terran Industries provides sustainability as a service, offering businesses a monthly retainer model to help them implement sustainability strategies and solutions. They focus on a gradual, step-by-step approach to integrate sustainability into the core of a business, making it more sustainable in the long run.
Terran Industries utilises an impact measurement framework to assess sustainability and ESG impacts, utilising dashboards and visual data representations to effectively communicate progress and achievements to clients. The interview underscores the importance of making sustainability accessible, relatable, and economically beneficial for businesses and individuals alike.
What inspired you to start Terran Industries?
Can you start by explaining what Terran Industries does and what inspired you to start the company?
We started Terran Industries as a service. We started the business officially, in early 2020. The idea of creating accessibility to sustainability because we realise there are thousands of solutions out there but most people don’t know what’s out there, how to find them, what they do, or even how to start their sustainability journey. So, the idea was to create solutions available to the everyday business owner or business structure, so they can find the solutions that they need.
What why I started it? Well, in my previous day job, they were expert green washers to put it mildly, and I’d basically had enough. So during the first lockdown here, I was already planning the company at that stage, I basically told them to get stuffed and decided to create a new business on my own.
I wanted to do something that was different, which is one of the reasons of how our database started, because we wanted to create a different solution, we didn’t want to just create another sustainability company or another climate tech company, we wanted to create something different to what was already out there and make an impact at the same time. So we started researching what was already in existence, which ended up forming what is now the one of the core products we offer were created the database of global sustainability strategies and solutions of already existing products or services, everything from energy efficiency to data measurement platforms, circular economy, waste management, eco friendly products, replacements, which are very overlooked area.
We now use the databases of suppliers for our existing clients. But at the same time, we can work with them on the back end to create ESG framework strategies, help out with policies, that sort of thing and provide that back support while matching them to existing solutions.
We wanted to create a real difference.
Wow, that’s brilliant. What are the specific services that that your company offers?
We do sustainability as a service. So we work with businesses on a flat monthly retainer model to help them implement strategies and solutions throughout their operations over a timeframe, which is actually beneficial to them. There are a lot of consultants, who come in and do roadmaps, or maybe stay around for a couple of weeks and create a few changes and that timeframe doesn’t allow for new solutions to really stick or integrate into the system or into the organisation. So by having that open ended monthly retainer model, we can work with the business over the timeframe, which will actually benefit the organisation, especially larger businesses multinationals. The larger the business is, the more time it will take to implement solutions simply because of sheer size of the operations. So by having that open ended retainer model, we have that benefit of working with them, that will actually suit them.
Why is sustainability important?
Amazing. Why do you think it is so important to shout about what is being done in sustainability?
Why sustainability is important is the fact that we’ve got seven years left before the climate crisis makes this planet unliveable. Creating awareness and education of sustainability is hugely informed is like in terms of ESG and Net Zero, being thrown around loosely these days. A lot of people will understand that it’s associated somehow with sustainability, but they won’t actually be able to tell you what the definition is. So by creating awareness and education, promoting knowledge and encouraging resource sharing, sustainability will become more commonplace in not only the workplace, but just the global economy in general. And that’s really what we want to try and promote and encourage is for sustainability to become so second nature, that you don’t even have to think about it anymore. It’s just there.
What are the challenges?
And what have you found to be some of the most challenging aspects for you and for Terran Industries over the course of its journey?
The biggest challenges I touched on before was laundering during the pandemic. It created an interesting time. But it also allowed us to actually build quite an established brand. So that has helped us really well. And being a young company and having an old brand makes us look a lot better.
Another challenging part is promoting the advantages of a green economy when everyone is so focused on what was sometimes avoiding natural disasters or coming out of the pandemic, offensive green recovery, which was used a lot. And unfortunately, during the last few years, single use plastic use has skyrocketed over the world, simply due to medical and health care. So while the global emissions reduce while everyone is staying home, it was also waste use that went up.
It was sort of trading one for the other. And what we’ve really had to work for is promoting it. You can have the sustainable, eco-friendly products available, which aren’t necessarily single use. Okay, there will always be some single use areas like in medical and healthcare, which is almost essential most of the time, a lot of the time, they can just use stainless steel and water, which is absolutely fine in that industry. We are in talks to the healthcare industry at the moment, and one of the nurses said that to me directly like this will work, we don’t need single use. So that does come from a viable source. But having to promote that being in a global crisis doesn’t mean you have to revert back to using other things. And that’s been really hard to educate people on that front, because then it’s almost primal instinct to just go back to what you know, when disaster strikes. Trying to change that perspective has been quite a challenge.
Do you think that’s probably wider than just within your industry, it’s also the users, the consumers, your everyday person and almost what we’re teaching within education within schools. And that learned behaviour?
Yeah, that has a lot to do with it. There’s a lot to do moving forward as well. So yesterday has a busy time ahead.
If you’re thinking about the beginning of working with companies, what would you recommend that they start doing at the start of their journey?
The most important step is to actually start. We’d like to think of sustainability as climbing a ladder. So one step at a time.
Everyone looks at the overall, what’s going on is they think they need to be net zero by tomorrow and introduce hundreds of drastic changes.
But yes, you do that having that step by step guide – starting with a small, quick, easy wins is essential.
When we start with our clients, we often do the small quick, easy wins, eco friendly product replacement, the digital business cards, rewritable notepads like bamboo or recycled tissues and toilet paper, quite easy things like that, that don’t create a huge impact in the change of operations, while still being able to make a difference in the day to day lives of the employees. That also brings about the image of ‘oh, that wasn’t too hard’.
Sustainability is often seen as a big chore but one step at a time is really the main thing when it comes to sustainability. Starting with the easy things and then when you do look at the hard projects, do one at a time. Don’t do too many at once, otherwise you’ll lose control.
They often start internally with what they’re doing with their employees and then work outwards to what they’re doing.
Is this company wise, or does it just depend on the particular company?
Every company is 100% different even direct competitors won’t need the same solutions, having that tailored response of what they actually need, and comparable to what’s available to them, is essential to figuring out what solutions they need.
As I touched on before there is thousands of solutions, but figuring out which one is most beneficial for the individual business can be really tricky.
If there are two direct competitors 10 kilometres apart, for example, that’s a large enough distance that there will be a different contractor and there will be the best solution for each of them, simply due to the logistics of where they’re located versus where their suppliers located.
The one of the biggest things that people often overlook, because it’s part of their scope 3 emissions is the transport emissions generated by their supply chain. It might be the perfect product to use in their supply chain but it might have to be shipped from overseas. If there’s a local one, while the product might be 90% good compared to 100% good, the emissions save through the transport of the more local product or add more value for sustainability as well as the business’s scope three emissions.
We’ve found that a big reason a lot of companies are maybe scared or intimidated by sustainability, is that envisioned giant cost that comes with making the change? What would you say to them around this envision?
Well it’s a misconception really, I mean, yes, sustainability is an investment but it’s attitude of once you’re investing in more sustainable, resilient solutions, that will last longer the cost savings in the long run will equal millions of dollars, especially for larger businesses. You can buy a hundreds of single use plastic things that you throw away, or you could buy one reusable item and just keep reusing that and reusing that. And depending on what the item is, it would be a cost saving of millions.
Energy efficiency as well, such as solar panels are very popular. Yes, it’s an investment to install them, but that there’ll be a lot cheaper in the long run.
A lot of people are also turned off by the initial investment. But the important thing to realise is that there is finance solutions available.
Are there a lot of incentives to support this journey towards sustainability?
There are a few around. State governments all over the world are changing their incentives all the time, some benefit businesses and some don’t. The reality of what it comes down to is not my personal area of expertise. I’ve got a team member who does have for me. We do keep track of the incentives that are out there. And it’s one of those things that there’s so many of them, it’s almost hard for any single person to remember all of them. But it is part of what we do offer for our clients finding the right incentive for them to switch as well.
What are the benefits of making sustainability accessible?
How do you explain the benefits of making sustainable changes in a way that is then relatable to that company or to people in a way that they can understand?
The biggest thing, which we’ve touched on before is the economic benefit of it. It’s connecting with the individuals or businesses in a way that actually personally relates to them. The climate crisis is changing everything globally, that both consumers and businesses have different needs. So it’s finding that particular trigger for that individual personal business that reflects a climate crisis that impacts them. There’s one thing that’s been all over the news recently, at least here in Australia, the climate change is affecting strawberry crops. And everyone loves strawberries. Something that they don’t often think about, like we walk out the door with the sun still shining sort of thing but you go into the supermarket like – oh, there’s no strawberries today. Well, yes, that’s climate change. Welcome to the future.
Finding that personal thing that reflects each person or businesses individual need is fairly essential to communicating and helping them understand the need for sustainability and climate action. Another area to touch on as well, especially for businesses, is supply chain resilience, you look at plastic – it’s made from fossil fuels, it’s a finite resource. You can’t keep digging it out of the ground and expecting the supply chain just go on and on. So by investing in sustainable supply chains, today, you’ll be saving your company a lot of heartache when the resource suddenly runs out in 20 years or so.
Do you create a narrative to support that? Or do you use technology to make this data image for them to see it for themselves? Or is it a mixture of both?
It’s a mixture of both. We’ve got our own impact measurement framework that we use to measure the impact has been created for our clients in terms of sustainability and ESG. It’s a 42-point measurement system, not every point is relevant to every business, but the idea is that it does cover everything. So being able to relate to them, what’s needed in terms of solutions, but showing them the data behind it as well. And everyone seems to love dashboards these days as well. So showing them that data in a way that’s easy to understand is very helpful.
Pictures say a thousand words.
Brilliant. Well, thank you so much. This has been really interesting and learning about your company and your views personally as well.
Thank you for having me.
For more information on starting your own sustainability journey get in touch today or book a call with our CEO Adam.
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An interview by Katie Furmston, Head of Design & Research at Design Conformity, speaking to Evannah Jayne, the founder of Terran Industries, …