Walking the Talk
Every morning we consider ourselves lucky to come to work in Muskoka to roast premium coffee and try to make a positive difference in the world. Of course, some days you question whether the company’s initiatives are ever going to bear fruit, while other days provide the positive reinforcement, we all need to keep pushing. You all know the feeling.
In the past week, the government of Ontario announced that they want all municipalities to accept certified compostable coffee pods in green bin programs, just as they accept coffee filters and teabags. Clear cut, no equivocation.
This is validation of a path we set out on in 2016. As the first brand (along with Loblaws Presidents Choice) in the world to adopt this technology, we recognized that innovators have to be prepared to battle against entrenched forces who seek to maintain the status quo. Even when that status quo is filling Canada’s landfills with plastic. To say that the battle proved to be much more arduous than we expected is an understatement.
The details are not important. The lessons learned though may have broader value.
Innovation that threatens big corporations will be attacked as they seek to protect their interests, even if those interests are not aligned with those of Canadians. Misleading advertising and packaging claims like recyclable will be used for items like plastic pods which are categorically not recyclable. Lobbying efforts will seek to influence government officials and even public broadcasters like the CBC with pure misinformation. As consumers, we need to be conscious of the claims made by companies. Unfortunately, not all stand up to scrutiny.
We also learned that changing government policy takes time, persistence and advocacy. Many, many times we felt like giving up. But, full credit to our MPP Norm Miller and the Ontario PC government who have led the way with legislation that we hope will be fast tracked onto the books across the other provinces. If we truly want to move Canada in a sustainable direction, we must act decisively, especially when Made in Canada solutions are at hand.
Finally, we learned that blazing new trails is something that you just have to believe in. Sometimes, you will be rewarded, while other times the payback may be very long or never come. The outcome can’t stop you from pursuing the right path. Our compostable pod initiative has taken 5 years to blossom. Last week we were recognized by the Rainforest Alliance for being the first roaster in Canada to convert 100% of our portfolio to certified coffee - 10 years ago.
If we may be so bold as to offer advice to those of you who share our passion for quality coffee, Canada and a sustainable future, it would be this – find companies that walk their talk. All the time. Some of the companies that are now on the compostable train were fighting us a few years ago.
We recognize that you don’t have time to do research on every brand that you purchase. We get it. One tool that you can use would be to find companies that are b Corp certified. We happen to be one. It is not a guarantee that everything that company does is right, but it is a pretty rigorous standard and a simple indication that the company is committed to their employees, the environment and ethical business.
We’re happy with these recent wins. It’s not self-satisfaction or vindication. Not at all. It’s reinforcement that doing the right thing will eventually carry the day. We can all be inspired by that.