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Transcript: Rethinking Packaging and Circular Business with Rowan Drury

Transcript: Rethinking Packaging and Circular Business with Rowan Drury

SEE THE SHOW NOTES AND LISTEN AT: Rethinking Packaging and Circular Business with Rowan Drury

Katie Whalen [00:00:01] Hey, Getting in the Loop listeners, wouldn't it be great if you could have more of a say about who I interview and the topics that we discuss? Well, now you can. I've created an easy way for you to tell me what you like and don't like about the Getting in the Loop Podcast. Just head over to survey.GettingintheLooppodcast.com to take a quick survey about the Getting in the Loop Podcast. Again, that survey.gettinginthelooppodcast.com so you can shape the future of the Getting in the Loop Podcast. 

[00:00:33] Hi. I'm Katie Whalen, and join me each week I talk with experts around the globe about circular economy. You'll find out what's being done to make it a reality and if it can really solve the problems it promises. It's time for Getting in the Loop. 

[00:00:56] Thanks for tuning into the Getting in the Loop podcast. I'm your host Katie. And today, I'm talking with Rowan Drury of Sweden's first plastic package-free shop. Gram. Rowan founded Gram in 2016 after searching for a more sustainable way to buy food. At Graham, everything is sold loose and by weight. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable containers so that they don't have to throw anything away when they get home. When she's not running the shop, Rowan can be found lecturing about zero waste lifestyles, supporting others in their quest to start up zero waste initiatives and advising companies about how to reduce their waste and climate impact. In this episode, Rowan and I dive into how she started Gram and why she started Gram. And we also talk about the zero waste lifestyle. So enjoy. 

[00:01:47] Before we get started with today's episode, I wanted to tell you about something awesome. If you're giving presentations related to Circular economy or if you just want to learn a little bit more about Circular economy basics, head over to slidedeck.gettinginthelooppodcast.com to grab a free presentation that I've created based off of presentations that I've given over the course of the last couple of years. And what it is is you can use it as a starting point for your own presentation. So it's PowerPoint presentation. You can add or adapt your own slides into it, or you can just go through the presentation and learn a little bit more about the basics behind Circular economy. So it's 20 slides. It starts off with why we need a circular economy, what is the concept and how can we implement this in practice? And then at the end it finishes with some links to different reports and other resources. So you can learn a little bit more on your own. Okay, so now onto today's podcast.

[00:02:45] Thank you so much, Rowan, for coming on the podcast. 

Rowan Drury [00:02:48] Thanks for having me. 

Katie Whalen [00:02:50] It's kind of a momentous occasion because it's the first time that we're recording an episode of the podcast face to face. 

Rowan Drury [00:02:58] Yeah. How nice. 

Katie Whalen [00:02:59] Yeah. I'm a little- Well, I'm hoping the audio is gonna be okay. I think. I think it will be, so-

Rowan Drury [00:03:05] Yes.

Katie Whalen [00:03:06] But, yeah. So I wanna dive- I want to dove into Gram and everything about Gram. So what was it like setting up Sweden's first plastic-free shop? 

Rowan Drury [00:03:16] Yeah, it was a pretty intense experience and I had about a year of kind of coming up with the idea to opening the door. It was pretty much almost exactly a year and lots of research and lots of talking to people. And then I kind of the last three months, I we opened first in the Solivan in Malmo and I covered market in Malmo. 

[00:03:40] And yeah, I think around September I spoke to the people who were opening the store and they said, we're opening in November. Can you open at the same time as us? Can you be one of our first stores to open? 

[00:03:52] So that really sort of pushed me then. I just sort of had to go for it in the last two months and just make it happen. And that place didn't work out to be the right place to be in the long run, but it was actually good as a sort of first iteration. And just to get me to open the doors and just do it. Really? 

Katie Whalen [00:04:09] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And then you moved to a different location. 

Rowan Drury [00:04:12] Yeah. That we spent we spent about seven months in the Solivan. And then we moved to our own shop in San Knute and need to focus parking. 

Katie Whalen [00:04:21] Yeah. And that's where it still is today. 

Rowan Drury [00:04:22] Exactly. Yeah. 

Katie Whalen [00:04:23] So can you walk us through a little bit what it looked like setting up the store and maybe actually before that. How did you even get the idea to do it? 

Rowan Drury [00:04:32] I was trying to reduce my trash personally, so I'd kind of got inspiration from people who are talking about zero waste. It was one particular woman called Lauren Singer, who is based in New York, and she is one of these people who can fit two years worth of trash in a small jar and which is quite difficult to achieve. I must say that it is quite an inspirational symbol. I think it's good to see that. 

[00:04:59] So I started trying to reduce my own traction, swapping things like having bar soap instead of a bottle of soap and having a water bottle with me and not using a takeaway coffee cups. I'm just trying to really be conscious of the stuff that I threw away and where it came from. But I think that like then the next stage of actually opening up zero way stop came out of frustration of not really being able to do very much about the trash that resulted from food shopping and going to the supermarket and feeling like I had much choice as a consumer as to how my food was packaged. And I was trying to do things differently and trying to shop in different ways, not in the supermarket, but it took a lot of time and energy. And I was working and had kids. 

[00:05:52] And I just sort of it's just really hard work and I just felt like that shit should be easier. And I read about the shops that were opening in Germany, particularly France, these shops where there's food shops where there's no packaging at all. And then I went to Berlin to the shop, original impact and seeing that. And it was really inspired by that particular shop. Yeah. And came back to Sweden sort of feeling like. There's no shop like that here at all, like in the whole of Sweden. How is that possible? Maybe I should be. So from the store. 

Katie Whalen [00:06:34] Yeah. Yeah. And since you started. Have you seen other shops like similar shops being opened in Sweden? 

Rowan Drury [00:06:41] And there's one other now in the best scare for the. Which is just outside of Stockholm and just outside of Stockholm. And I helped her to open up. I've done a lot of consultancies with people who want to open shops. But she is the only one so far who's gone through with it. Then there is also a delivery service in Stockholm called Unwrapped Them, so they deliver as package free as possible with a kind of return system of containers so they don't have a physical shop you can order online. And I also worked with them to help them. But like it's gone pretty slowly with in November will be open three years. And within that time frame in England, for example, there's been over 200 shops, zero waste shops that have opened compared to kind of two more in Sweden. Yes. Like really a big difference, though, of how it's developing here. 

Katie Whalen [00:07:40] Now, that's crazy. Is there? Why do you think that is? 

Rowan Drury [00:07:46] I have a few theories about that. And one is that we have a very good waste management system in Sweden. And we have asked statistics say that we recycle 99 percent of our trash, which is could be slightly misleading because 50 percent of that is burnt and turned into energy. So it's it's counted in recycling, but it's the first sort of the everyday person that's a little bit hard to dig dig into. You just see this. Oh, we recycle everything. That's great. So you assume everything every bottle gets sent into another bottle, which isn't quite the case. So I think there's sort of the Swedish mentality of being very obsessed with sorting your trash and the recycling, which is great. Yeah. Also leads to not sort of quite thinking stage before and thinking about reducing instead of just recycling like that is, you know, maybe you could not have the plastic bottle in Kent instead of just relying on it being recycled. 

Katie Whalen [00:08:48] Right. Right. Yeah. And that makes me wonder the type of customers that are coming to your shop. Ah, I know Momo is quite international. So is it. A lot of Swedish people are also a lot of international people. 

Rowan Drury [00:09:00] It's a menu is a mix. But we do have a really big international customer group and we're also a volunteer run shop. The main part that we have at the moment. I think we have about 15 volunteers and I'm not sure the exact numbers, but there's maybe two out of those 15 Swedish and the rest are from all over the world. Wow. So that is maybe a sort of representation of kind of a customer group as well. 

[00:09:27] I mean, we do have a lot of Swedish customers, but yeah, people from all over the world and particularly from countries where this is more the norm, like Germany and France. 

Katie Whalen [00:09:37] Yeah. Yeah. It's quite interesting because there's kind of a contradiction. I think a lot of the world sees Sweden as this forward thinking country for an environmental issues and it is in many ways. Yeah. But also there are there are these existing infrastructure systems that sort of challenge at least the circular economy the concept in terms of like incineration vs. reuse or what you said in terms of even reducing. Yeah, yeah. 

Rowan Drury [00:10:05] I think it's kind of yeah, it's tricky. It's one of these situations where a solution sometimes has a sort of creates more problems. 

Katie Whalen [00:10:13] Yeah. Do you see other organizations in Sweden targeting sustainable living in zero. I'm not so much in the sort of zero way. Yes. Kind of realm or least what I would call the zero waste kind of realm. Yeah. So maybe you could just give me up to speed a little bit and what's happening. 

Rowan Drury [00:10:33] In terms of zero waste itself, it's. yeah, like I said, it's going very slowly. There are also small communities on Facebook and things like that, groups of sharing ideas. 

[00:10:45] There's lots of small companies kind of producing. Yeah. Products to help you throw away less or to replace a single use products. But then sort of slightly going out of that. There are companies like Swap Shop in Montana, for example, where you can swap clothes. Yeah. And lots of initiatives to mend things, which is all part of the kind of zero waste mentality borrows things like to pool in mono and you can borrow tools for example. But kind of the zero waste thing in itself is still it's still pretty small and there aren't that many other places to. Here. Yeah. 

Katie Whalen [00:11:28] Okay, so going back to Gram, I'm actually kind of wanted to ask you a couple of questions in terms of the setup of how you. Where do you get where you get the food? Where. I've also heard in some cases, you know, that it's better to have plastic on certain products than others. Is this a myth? 

Rowan Drury [00:11:50] No, it's not. And it's something that I have kind of figured out and adjusted as I've gone on in the last three years. I think when I started the show, if I had this very purist idea, everything had to be kind of completely package free. But when you sort of really get into it and you look at it has to it has to be a bit of a balance and you have to look at food waste, of course, as well and balance all of that. So we have about 30, I think at the moment, suppliers from big wholesalers who import. 

[00:12:20] We are pretty much all organic as well. 

[00:12:22] So they're importing organic products and we buy from them and from them. It's mostly buying in big quantities. So it's similar to how we like big kitchens like in schools and hospitals by and also how other how other brands are buying products to then repack them into smaller packages. So we buy in these big 25 kilo paper sacks basically as the sort of standard when you buy from a big wholesaler in they're sort of large pack sort of selection. 

[00:12:51] So we have a few of those. We then have a few kind of specialist suppliers like suppliers who we just get spices from, for example, and then write down to suppliers where we just buy one product from like we buy coffee from Roche doing in Montana, we buy chocolate that's made around the corner from us. 

[00:13:08] We work with someone who makes some butcher. So those are my favorite suppliers, those ones that are local and that it's usually a small company. You can have a really nice dialogue with about the product to how they package it and how we can find a kind of way of working together that suits us like a chocolate supplier. He makes us this special kind of broken pieces of chocolate that he brings round in the reusable box and pulls it into us. Then there's kind of really. No. So a packaging is his delivery. Yeah. And what was the other part? 

Katie Whalen [00:13:48] It was about the sort of should some things have plastic in them.  

Rowan Drury [00:13:52] Yes. And it was that. Yeah. So with that I kind of we- yeah. It's a balance. Like there is an issue.

[00:14:02] There's always issues of food waste and with food there's always issues of things like bugs. Small issues say you have to be really aware of stuff like that. 

[00:14:12] And we did have an issue is bugs at one point and nothing kind of, you know, terribly bad for people. But we realized that actually the products that had a plastic layer around them were much more protected. Whereas when they were just in paper, they could be much more susceptible to infestations. So then you've got to look at like the the impact of having to throw away 10 kilos of whatever is much higher than the sheath of plastic rounded. So now we've sort of learned to kind of balance these things and keep kind of any kind of infestations out and sort of protect the foods and have less food waste, but also minimize packaging as much as we can. Within that framework. Yeah. And things like I mean, for example, cucumbers or is. Oh, I look at. We did used to sell plastic free cucumbers, which is lovely. And some of our customers came specifically for that. But they go bad so much quicker. Yeah. I mean they really did. And we had waste and we'd have to end up giving away these sort of floppy cucumbers by the day. Yeah. And the plastic around them, it keeps them a lot longer. And I mean there's other issues with that of how far they've traveled. And perhaps you should have just eat cucumber that's harvested locally and you eat it the same day. So with all of these things as much, there's so much to look at. But yeah, if you are going to import in from far away, the plastic helps keep it a lot longer. 

Katie Whalen [00:15:48] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I think I might have even seen some LCA study is about about that in terms of what you said, the food waste and reducing food waste. So yeah. Extending the shelf life of these these goods. Yeah. But I hadn't actually even thought about the bugs like within the shop and you know, like not in the shop I can just make-. 

Rowan Drury [00:16:09] Or in the warehouse but yeah. It comes to us and yeah. I mean there's plenty of points these products, you know, we do try to keep as local as possible but you know we do have products that come from other countries and the kind of journey those products make. Get to us is amazing, really. They go from different warehouses and different transportations, and in all of those places they're susceptible to any kind of not just bugs, but dump and things like that. So you can kind of minimize packaging, but also protect the food. And and also we are kind of cutting out a stage of the packaging. 

[00:16:48] So when it comes to us, we don't then repack it into smaller packages. We then let the customer put it in their own containers, which can be reused over and over again. So we're cutting out a whole kind of step of the packaging system. 

Katie Whalen [00:17:02] Yeah, that's so fascinating. And yeah, anyone who has flour in their homes knows that if you let it just kind of sit there for a while. All the sudden you get a little like flour. But what? Yeah. Yeah. And so that made me think. Was there some sort of regulations or things like that with food safety that you had to become acquainted with? How to- Well, it was the law like that look like in Sweden as it conducive to-. 

Rowan Drury [00:17:30] Yeah, I mean, it works. We have the same checks that any other shop or restaurant this anyone is working with food basically has, which isn't unusual. I mean, you have a check when you first open the shop and then you have a check every year. 

Katie Whalen [00:17:44] Okay. 

Rowan Drury [00:17:45] And by the, yeah, food Safety and Environmental Safety Agency. And they look it. I mean, when they first came to us, when we first opened, they we were the first case that they'd see like this. They were a little bit like, we're going to have to work together on this. Like, we don't really know what to tell you to do. We know the basics. But so they just asked us to explain what we do in terms of hygiene and cleaning. And then they look to that and said yes or no. And we made some changes. And, you know, we are we. Yeah. We have to do the same things as everyone else. Yes. But we also have products that are pretty low risk. The main bulk of our products are no risk because they're they're dried foods. So rice and lentils and beans, which, you know, can sit around for a long time and not go not become bad if you eat them. So it's pretty easy to take care of those products with a few simple procedures. We then have things like eggs and milk, which have a different kind of standard and we just have to stick to those. But it's a question I get a lot and people seem to think Sweden, it was gonna be really hard, maybe impossible to open shops, but so far it's not we haven't come across too many hurdles that we haven't been able to meet. 

Katie Whalen [00:19:08] Yeah. I mean, it seems like they were really happy to think along with you and explore, like it wasn't like, no, this this can't be done. 

Rowan Drury [00:19:17] And I think with those things, I mean, I went to have a meeting. I booked a meeting with them before I even opened the shop just to say, what do I need? 

[00:19:23] This is what I'm gonna do. What do I need to think about? So I kind of established that relationship with them already. So they kind of knew that I was going to open and they knew the issues that I was trying to overcome. And so, yeah, it wasn't good cooperation in the end. 

Katie Whalen [00:19:36] Yeah. So no one can use this as an excuse for why they shouldn't. Oh no. I mean they're plastic free shopping. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So what's next, Rowan, in terms of you want to do more of this or you're focused on other things? 

Rowan Drury [00:19:52] I am focused on other things. The shop is it is carrying on, trying to build itself up and. I think that we would like to open other shops like Grahams in other cities. I don't quite know when that will be. We have to the mama shop really needs to sort of be stronger and it is taking a long time for it to kind of really to really be able to stand on its feet. And yeah, I mean, I was talking to the women, actually, who owns the shop in Berlin. And she was a little surprised. How long it sort of taking our store to kind of get to a certain level compared to I mean, you can't really compare Berlin and MoMA, but still it's sort of. Yeah, I think it's it's a shame it's not kind of built up a little bit more so that we can say that we could have this opportunity to open more shops and develop apart from kind of an idea of franchising. I really I feel that like supermarkets need to take on this concept because in our small shop, we're kind of trying to get people to change too many habits, you know, return to shopping in a small store and bring your own containers with you, whereas people are already going to supermarkets, so they don't have to change that habit. 

[00:21:08] And then you just put in front of them more choices and more opportunities to reduce packaging, for example. 

Katie Whalen [00:21:16] Yeah. Has there been interest from the sort of larger grocery stores? 

Rowan Drury [00:21:22] No one has come to me yet. So I think it's going to be a case of me going to them. If that's what I decide, I want to do. I know the coop, for example, tried it, but maybe seven years ago and they felt like it didn't work and there wasn't enough demand for it. But I think that seven years ago was seven years ago. And where we are in that short time, we are in a different sort of place. There's much more awareness of issues of plastic pollution and climate change as a whole. And so I think that now is the time and it's a good time to do it. In England, it's no there's no one chain called Waitrose that I've started. They did a pilot scheme and it worked well. So now I think they're rolling out to a couple more of their stores and that's a big sort of nationwide chain of supermarkets. So, yeah, it's starting to happen there. And in France, in the organic supermarkets, it's been happening for years. So there are models where you can see it works as possible. 

Katie Whalen [00:22:25] Yeah, I remember when I was living in the Netherlands, there was more of an organic natural food store and they had a lot of these products you could buy with the bulk sort of drop down. Yeah. You bring your own packaging and the egg. Yeah. 

Rowan Drury [00:22:39] And it's just a case of. I mean there are plenty of shops that actually have that. I mean a lot of supermarkets have. Well in Sweden we have the last goodies. The sweets. Yes. Just like that. And they there's often nuts and things like that. 

[00:22:53] And it's just that having this small sort of mental shift to zero waste way of thinking so that then you provide and you encourage customers to bring that in containers and you make that like you normalize that and you make the case that people don't feel weird to come with their own cloth bags, put nuts in because you do you feel like sort of suspicious, but if you're coming with your own containers now. And I think another thing in England that a lot of the deli counters have started actively encouraging customers to bring their own containers. Okay. And you know, rather than taking a plastic. Yeah. Also, whatever, you know, they say you can bring your own containers and away at first. So it's kind of getting supermarkets just to look at what they already have and then kind of actively encouraging a kind of zero waste mindset. 

Katie Whalen [00:23:43] Yeah. I mean, it's probably cheaper for them in the long run if they don't have to pay for. Yeah. There's packaging and things like that. So yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We already have a lot of these exotic good examples as you mentioned, like the the Saturday candy which everyone goes crazy for and it's just bulk. So here we get that. And yeah. And I'm used to buying ball candy in the states as well. So I mean I guess buying it is like it's like. 

[00:24:08] Yeah. Candy for everything. Right. Totally. Yeah. Yeah. 

Katie Whalen [00:24:12] Yeah. So what have been some of the barriers for people to pop up? Do people want to bring their own containers? Do you find more. Because if you remember it. So you do. Yeah. 

Rowan Drury [00:24:25] I mean I saw a big shift when we moved to the shop to the location we're in now from the market location. And that was quite a shift in the sort of customers we had. And it went from maybe like 20 percent of customers bringing the containers to now around 80 percent. I say I think of all of our customers bring their own containers. So, yeah, it's a big percentage, I think, who do? And even if they don't have all of their own containers with them, they least bring some. And then in the shop we have paper bags and we also have a free recycle jars and. You combine, so there's kind of always a way to shop, but yeah. I mean, but it is a different way of shopping. You can't just spontaneously pop in while you can. 

[00:25:13] Because we have if you want to do it kind of properly. Yeah. Tacoma is you. You have to think about it. You need to make a list of what you need and then you need to sort of you. This is what I usually do. I usually make a list of what I need. And then for each of those things, I match a container to it so I can grab a few old ice cream tubs or a few cloves bags or a couple of bottles for oil or whatever. Yeah. 

Katie Whalen [00:25:34] So it's it's a different process and it requires more planning ahead as well. Because like I have tons of lentils that I have bought in bulk, but then they just sit in my cupboard because it's like, oh, wait, I want to cook now. Maybe lentils are not a good example because they're quite easy to actually prepare very simply, but beans and things like that, a lot of them have to soak or soak overnight. And we say, yeah. 

Rowan Drury [00:25:58] Similar thing. You're selling the products that people aren't quite used to cooking like dried beans where you have to plan ahead and you have to soak them in. People on a lot of people aren't quite sure what to do with them and how to sort of, you know. Yeah. And you can't just be spontaneous and open the can and pour it in. It was. Do you ever you have to think 24 hours neutrons. Yeah. Yeah. So do you give cooking tips or how. We do give we give some and we have kind of instructions on containers and how to so go home and cook them. But yeah, it's in a different way of cooking. 

Katie Whalen [00:26:32] But I also imagine there are benefits to it in terms of you only have to buy what you want. That also can help you. The food waste. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. 

Rowan Drury [00:26:41] And we have customers who come in with recipes and just buy exactly the amount they need. RSPCA, you know, they'll buy 200 grams of rice and then, you know, it's spices, particularly if you have a recipe with quite unusual spices that might not use it. And at the time you can buy just a teaspoon of infinite teaspoon of that if you want to. Yeah. And we have that kind of limit on what you can. You can buy so you can buy as little as you need. Really? 

Katie Whalen [00:27:09] Yeah. That's quite brilliant actually, because a lot of times you end up with some random thing that you have to buy the entire package and you're like, why? And this just sits in my cupboard until the little we've we've, you know. Yeah. Yeah. 

Rowan Drury [00:27:21] So that's different. Is a food saving plus. Yeah. Yeah. OK. So Paul, that's so fascinating. Yeah. 

Katie Whalen [00:27:32] We always kind of get to this point in the podcast as well where it's like, well are we just going back to kind of the old way? A lot of the guests are just like you're like, yeah, okay. Repairing clothes and mending things. And you're like, yeah, this is just it's no revolutionary idea. 

Rowan Drury [00:27:47] And this isn't like we have like one of our sort of customer groups, I guess is an older generation who feels quite nostalgic about the shop. And like they kind of say things like, I remember my grandparents had a shop where I used to work when I was a kid and we used to put things into paper packages and pick up for people. And everything was just in big sacks. And and it also still happens all over the world that food is so sold like this in moves in markets. And so it's nothing new. It's putting a bit of a modern twist on it. It's bringing something back that's always been there. 

Katie Whalen [00:28:23] So going forward, in terms of addressing the plaque, the sorry, the packaging issue and also the food waste issue. Do you see you mentioned some in terms of initiatives or at least I think was Coop. You said the store in Sweden that was trying this out maybe seven years ago and could maybe try to roll it out again now as more of awareness. But what what do you think needs to happen to have more more tangible? Now, I'm drawing a blank on the word, but I like more tangible uptake of these two. 

Rowan Drury [00:28:58] Yeah. It's tricky. I think that there is a big focus on like alternatives. Again, like trying to not not sort of 2 am not really focusing on like consumption, but focusing on always on creating alternatives to keep feeding on consumption needs. Alternatives to plastic. Bio plastics and ways all still use resources. And there is much better if plastic is needed to have one of these kind of alternatives. But they themselves have problems. Don, it's not quite there yet. You know, you can't just throw by plastic homes live onto the ground and it just kind of disappears into nothing. Yes. And there's a lot of confusion with terms with different sorts of alternatives to plastic and whether you should recycle them or put them in your food ways or burn them more. So I think less of a less of a focus on trying to fuel our consumption with alternatives and more of a focus on trying to be a kind of lower consumer. Society. 

Katie Whalen [00:30:03] Yeah. 

Rowan Drury [00:30:04] How we actually do that is another thing. Yeah. It's a it's a big challenge. I think that the very simple thing happened in England, which sparked these 200 or so stores happening, which is the airing of the documentary Blue Planet, too. OK, yeah. David Attenborough Yeah. And particularly the episode that focuses on plastic in the ocean. Yeah. And I mean in England they call it the David Attenborough effect because it really had this impact when people kind of going, Oh yeah. And it it's a particular thing because in England David Attenborough is really here. He's like, god, yeah. 

Katie Whalen [00:30:41] So he's part of the furniture. Yeah. Yeah. I'd all basically. Yeah. 

Rowan Drury [00:30:45] This person saying these things at this particular time. And then there's a sudden collective lightbulb that goes on and it really made a huge impact in England. So I'm kind of rocketing for the equivalent happen here. 

Katie Whalen [00:30:57] What wouldn't be the equivalent. Yeah. I'm not sure. 

Rowan Drury [00:31:02] For me it would be to say such a thing. Yeah. 

Katie Whalen [00:31:05] Yeah. Because we didn't also they they do quite well in terms of collection rates and quite well in the sustainability reporting and things like that. But also. And now in terms of recycling waste and things like that. But then also their consumption is just through the roof on that as well. 

Rowan Drury [00:31:22] Yeah. Yeah. And it's hard to sort of have this how to communicate all of that stuff and all of this reporting to the public in a way that makes one kind of overreact and take action. Yeah. And not just kind of more environmental stuff. 

Katie Whalen [00:31:40] I mean, I guess this is also maybe where that circular economy concept in terms of like business playing its part to help this and not have to. Yeah. So that it can be more convenient for customers to make the right choices. Yeah. Yeah. Bye. I also have some issues in that too. 

Rowan Drury [00:31:59] I mean I mean normalizing it as well. Like I said at the end, having you in supermarkets, more shops opening, just kind of normalize it. I mean we are still you know, there's only two of us physical shops. So we are sort of a specialist shop and we get viewed as this kind of hipster shop in Sydney. Knuth In London, it's like it's not for me. It's like, you know, where is it? It would be nice if it if it had a feeling of it's for everybody and it's available and it's more normalized. Yeah. Yeah. That's. 

Katie Whalen [00:32:31] We have some work to do and. Yeah. Of normalizing the idea. But I think Gretta is doing that. Yeah. She's she's getting attention. So yeah that's what when you start somewhere. Yeah. OK. 

[00:32:44] So we've touched touched upon a lot of things and it's I know that you're you're very busy with everything that you're doing. 

[00:32:52] But before we before we wrap up this conversation, I wanted to ask you about the question that I ask all of the Getting in the Loop Podcast guests, which is about the event that they would create for the in the loop. So I don't think you've played the game yet. 

Rowan Drury [00:33:07] No, I haven't. I'd love to.

Katie Whalen [00:33:09] But we can. Yeah, we can. We can arrange that. But essentially in the game, you're a company and you're producing products and then different events happen. And yet and yet there's changing market conditions. And this makes it sometimes difficult to actually obtain the materials for your product. And yet it gets people to trigger and think about, okay, actually, if we did things in a little different way and we're not just relying on consumption and taking, taking, taking all the time. 

Rowan Drury [00:33:36] Yeah. 

Katie Whalen [00:33:37] Maybe it's a better way of doing things. So the events change these market conditions. So what kind of event do you think you would focus your, your, your- What kind of topic would you focus your event on, Rowan? 

Rowan Drury [00:33:50] Yeah, I love this. It's such a nice idea. And I had an idea that was actually inspired by a talk I heard by Sue who they deal with always to in Sweden. And it was somebody who I mean it's all from them and they gave us as an audience this challenge. 

[00:34:06] And I've sort of changed it slightly, but it's like the idea of thinking if waste management systems suddenly didn't exist or went on strike, what would you as an individual or as a company do with your waste? And, you know, if you had to deal with what would be the first thing that you would do, and he said, this guy who gave this don't get going. This is an example of like he's asked this question over lots of people. And like some business manager replied he would dig a hole in his garden. And then he said he's asked it to schoolchildren and their response is usually the smaller one, which is we would stop having the waste in the first place. And we were trying to figure out how know how to reduce the way. 

Katie Whalen [00:34:51] Yeah, yeah. Oh, my gosh. I think that's brilliant in terms of just how you kind of just ignore the fact that there is the potential to just even reduce it. Yeah. And. Yeah, it's like the marshmallow challenge where I don't know if you've played the marshmallow down, the marshmallow challenge or you have like a certain amount of spaghetti and then one marshmallow. And after a certain amount of time, your goal is to be the person with the highest marshmallow. So you have to build like a tower basically out of spaghetti. Right. And usually kids do really well at this because they don't they just start building right away as opposed to the adults who want to. I think it through all the time. And then they have this big elaborate plan. And then there just falls over, rather as if they just started in tiny little steps and then they would have the the tallest marshmallow because they just start doing thing so quickly. 

[00:35:40] And it's not like thinking of like, oh, how can we like. Yeah. Again, like, how can we just fuel what we already do? Yeah. Okay. We dig a hole from it, thinking how could we tackle this problem. 

Katie Whalen [00:35:54] Yeah. Yeah. You're just solving the wrong problem, right. Yeah. I think that's our are our duty is to try to get people to think about work smarter. Not yeah. Not harder. Yeah. Yeah. Well this has been so much fun. Yeah. Thanks for having me. And where can listeners go to learn more about you? 

Rowan Drury [00:36:13] Yeah, you can go to the Gram website, which is grammalmo.se.  And then we also have Instagram grandmalmo. You can go to my own Instagram rowandrury and try to talk about waste and activism and sustainability as well. 

Katie Whalen [00:36:36] Thank you for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode for show notes and links, go to our website at gettingintheleadpodcast.com. And while you're there, subscribe to our mailing list to have new episodes delivered to your inbox every Monday. See you next week. 


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About the Show

Getting In the Loop is a weekly podcast dedicated to exploring how to transform to a more circular society. Join host Katie Whalen as she examines the challenges facing our current resource use and discovers alternatives to the ‘take, make, dispose’ way of doing things. Each week she interviews circular economy experts about what they’re doing and learning. Together we'll uncover what circular economy means in practice and find out what's being done to keep our resources in a loop rather than sent to waste.

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