How can we…. reverse the ocean plastic problem? With Tom Jackson

This conversation is with Tom Jackson, CEO and Co-Founder of Honest Ocean, a company on a mission to collect and recycle plastic waste, in order to prevent it from reaching the ocean and rivers by stopping it at the source.

Tom is passionate about plastic recycling and social enterprise, and shares an incredible wealth of information in this episode.  Take a listen if you want to be part of business remaking the world, or support more responsible and honest care for our oceans.


We discuss:

– The power of social enterprise & business in remaking the world – and the first step you can take to enter the green space

– Greenwashing, and how tech may be part of the solution

– The importance of relationships in social enterprise

– The power of activist movements & consumers in shifting business behaviour

– The future of ocean plastic recycling.

Interested in changemaker coaching or courses with Laura Hartley?

Web: https://laurahartley.com/

Insta: @laura.h.hartley

LinkedIn: @laura-hartley-

Want to learn more about Tom Jackson & Honest Ocean?

Web: https://honest-ocean.com

Linked In: @honest.ocean

Insta: @honest.ocean

Check out this episode!

TRANSCRIPT: Please note this was auto-generated and has not been edited, and may contain errors. 

[00:00:00] Tom Jackson: And we are not a scared business in terms of you know, the people that are greenwashing and the, the people that are doing the wrong way. We’re not gonna moan about it. We’re just gonna show them how you do it better and then we expect them to follow suit or be held accountable to that.

[00:00:15] And then, and if everyone had that outlook as a bus business with value, this world would be a much better place already.


[00:00:21] Laura Hartley: I’m Laura Hartley and welcome to the Public Love Project. This podcast is all about re-imagining and remaking the world, creating the conditions for social healing and collective thriving. Each week, we dive into topics around resilience, social change, birthing, and more just, and regenerative world and how we can use our head heart and hands in action. Before i introduce today’s guest and topic though i have one request head on over to apple podcasts or spotify wherever you’re listening and hit subscribe rate and review it helps us work to reach new listeners

[00:01:01] Laura Hartley: Today. I am excited to be speaking with Tom Jackson. The co-founder of Honest Ocean. A company on a mission to collect and recycle plastic waste in order to prevent it from reaching the oceans and rivers, stopping it at the source. So with a background in manufacturing, Tom was always interested in the materials that went into making products.

[00:01:21] Combined with 10 years of his life on the ocean, seeing the direct impact of plastic pollution, he knew that he wanted a change. So Tom and his co-founder Angus started by looking into some of the worst affected areas by plastic waste, including Indonesia, where he’s now based. They found that there was extremely poor infrastructure in place to combat the overflowing plastic pollution, much of which was actually coming from Western countries to begin with.

[00:01:48] So together, they started Honest Ocean and have concentrated on creating a closed loop, 360 plastic supply chain. Turning plastic waste into a commodity while also educating and empowering local communities to help in the fight against ocean plastic waste.

[00:02:03] So welcome to the public love project Tom. I am so excited to have you And I want to start with your inspiration for Honest Ocean. You know you’ve said that you were working on boats at the time around Indonesia but what was happening, what were you seeing around you that made you want to start a social enterprise?

[00:02:21] Tom Jackson: Yeah. So Laura, it started back in sort of 2015, 16. I was working on boats and we were crossing between sort of New Zealand and Fiji and things like that.

[00:02:31] And actually saw a lot of plastic in the ocean. And I worked, you know, at sea for, for seven years. And when I started, you know, You notice these things, it wa it wasn’t so bad back in, you know 2009, something like that. And as you, as you moved on, it was just, it was everywhere. And it got to a point where I saw quite a lot of it in the South Pacific and it really stuck with me. From there you know, I, I left that career and went towards manufacturing.

[00:03:05] Specifically we did vegan supplements and the manufacturing supplier, the only option they could give us with these little plastic tubes with the tablets inside. You may have seen them from pharmaceutical sort of pills and tablets and all that sort of thing. And there was [00:03:20] nothing sort of four years ago.

[00:03:22] And I said, Well, if I go and find a more social and a better you know, way of doing it than creating new plastic would, would you be interested in working with me, and they said yes. So two years ago or two and a half years ago, I left. I came to Indonesia and I got to work and I, I met with recyclers and local communities to, to look at what we could do, and plastic is a great product.

[00:03:50] It’s very usable. That’s why it’s in pretty much every part of our life. So being able to, being able to find a different way of using it and being able to recycle it and circle the economy around. The very important part of plastic was, was basically the motivation and why I left sort of crewing on yachts to moving to Indonesia..

[00:04:10] Laura Hartley: Which is quite a big move, you know, moving off yachts and that kind of work into actually starting a social enterprise, what were some of the, the challenges or the feelings that you were experiencing at that time? Because I’ve certainly been in places where seeing that level of environmental impact is.

[00:04:28] It’s challenging, it’s hard. It’s, it actually has an effect on us, you know? What was it that you were feeling at the time?

[00:04:36] Tom Jackson: Yeah, it was, it was really, really hard. Especially I mean, I, I’d traveled for the last sort of 11, 12 years through, through work. So I was, I was excited to go on an adventure as well.

[00:04:50] Moving to Bali wasn’t the hardest thing. You know, it took me about five minutes to think that was okay. But yeah, being in Indonesia and being in mainland Java where no one really speaks English the plastic, the burning the whole situation was just horrible and it’s almost like going back 25 years essentially in terms of there aren’t really any rules.

[00:05:12] So everyone’s doing, you know, what they like with plastic and things that it was really hard. So I spent four months, I got off the airplane from the UK to Indonesia and then I spent four months going around, look, talking to every single recycler all these communities and really working out where the problem was in waste management the manufacturing, the recycling.

[00:05:33] And I very quickly worked out that you know, there was about 275 recyclers in the whole of Indonesia to the 1600 virgin plastic manufacturers, which just means new plastic. So you can tell right there that there’s a massive issue with the amount of plastic being created versus, versus the infrastructure for recycling.

[00:05:55] That’s huge.

[00:05:57] Laura Hartley: And, the waste that we’re in Indonesia though, and not just Indonesia, and I wanna acknowledge this isn’t just from Indonesia itself though, right? It’s actually coming from Western countries.

[00:06:09] Tom Jackson: Yeah, exactly. And generally to South East Asia in general, there’s been a lot of material exported to, for instance, China.

[00:06:17] China closed their doors in 2019 and that was mainly from Germany, the UK and America as well. But there, the reason why it’s those three is cause people have been selling their waste, for instance, to Germany and then Germany be, has been exporting. And it’s been coming places like here Vietnam. I know Thailand have stopped doing it.

[00:06:39] I [00:06:40] think you can still it export waste to Indonesia. The rules are a little bit unclear and I have found UK supermarket bags. When I’ve been looking around river banks and you know, fields and it’s a really poor place. So, you know, everyone’s an entrepreneur here. Everyone will take anything to, to, you know, to work.

[00:07:01] And everyone’s either working day to day here in terms of local Indonesians or week to week, the long term plan for, you know, their lifestyle and being able survive workwise is very short term, and we find that a lot when we try and work with communities. One week we’ll be doing really well with them the other week, you know they would’ve closed it or, or something like that.

[00:07:25] In terms of in terms of us collecting it from that coastal area.

[00:07:29] Laura Hartley: So how does Honest Ocean work you know, as a social enterprise, you know, what is your structure here? How do you work with local communities?

[00:07:37] Tom Jackson: Right. So what we do is right at the start, so the, the plastic waste as soon as you go to a coastal community here on an island, it’s really bad. So first of all, what we do is we’ll go to these coastal communities and speak to the chiefs and the heads of villages, which you know, has really been the last

[00:07:54] year and a half of, of my job. And we’ll sit down and break bread with them and ask them what the issue is. Is the government collection coming to pick up waste here? Um, Probably not, cause it’s hard to reach areas. So what we’ll do is we’ll create a contract with them. We ask them to separate their plastic waste to have an area in their community.

[00:08:14] And, you know, we are not trying to create competition against what these guys are doing, we’re just purchasing it from them. So we’ll ask them to set that up once a week, once a month, depending on how big or small that village community is, we’ll come and collect that from them. From there, it will then go to our recycler, so about 50 minutes away from, from pretty much anywhere of the east coast of Java, which is the main strip of Indonesia here.

[00:08:42] It will then go to our recycler. With our recycler we have a great partner. Where we have all our materials separately stored, everything runs together. So it’ll be processed together for our customers. It’ll be shredded and washed there, and then from there it will be like exported locally.

[00:09:03] We try and keep it as close as we can. For instance, you know, Australia Southeast Asia in general, but it does go to Europe. Sometimes it’s a little bit too far, but our goal was always to get plastic away from Indonesia. And like I mentioned with the, the very little infrastructure to deal with it, that was that was always the plan.

[00:09:24] And then the very important and the last point of it is partnering with brands who really socially care and, and actually you know, really interested in working with a supplier who can be on the ground to work with, um, to work with all these, these kind of great communities that really wanna change.

[00:09:42] So it’s a long way of saying it, but as a short way we’re basically coastal recyclers who are socially impacting communities through collecting waste.

[00:09:52] Laura Hartley: So I wanna come back to one of the things that you talked about there, which was partnering with local communities and with other [00:10:00] organizations and people. You know, when we’re looking to do any sort of work of remaking the world, I think this element of relationships and partnerships is so important.

[00:10:10] You know, this isn’t work that we do alone, and this isn’t work that we can just go in as this you know, one person or, or you. Multi person organization from a different place and just expect everything to change. You know, we need these relationships and we need these understandings to help shape us and

[00:10:29] with this kind of work that you’ve done going into obviously a very different culture, a different country, you know, fostering these relationships and partnerships, how has this experience been for you? You know, where, where have there been tensions? Where have there been opportunities, and how have you

[00:10:45] navigated

[00:10:45] this?

[00:10:47] Yeah, that’s a great question, Laura. And it’s, it’s, the answer is, it is really difficult. And for anyone, whether you’re a company coming into Indonesia, like a big corporate trying to set this up, or you’re like us, you’re smaller and you have to go from village to village it is really difficult. So for instance, if you think about having 50 waste banks all along the coast, you’ve got lots of people involved in that.

[00:11:12] So you’ve got the collectors, who will bring the waste to these waste banks. So anyone can go out and collect with a bag. And it goes on the scales and then the waste bank will pay the collector for that. Okay, So that’s the first link. So all, all hoping that goes well, right? Anyone can do that as a freelance person.

[00:11:32] They get paid in cash, they don’t get paid in rice or oil or something that other people do, cooking oil, we just do it in cash cause like us, they just want a salary and then they can spend it how they want. So you have issues with having, you know, even if it’s 25 or 50 waste banks you, you have the issue of.

[00:11:51] Yeah, working with humans, which is not always the most reliable, especially in a place where it’s really hard to communicate. It’s a very religious place. There’s ceremonies about, you know, every seven or eight days, they do have that. So that’s another thing to account for.

[00:12:08] You’ve gotta account for money and what we have to pay for up front. When I first got here, I was putting deposits on things and things not turning up or plastic not returning as it was meant to. So yeah, financially it was difficult. Renting and lending equipment was a difficult one for us because they weren’t maintaining it.

[00:12:29] So there was a lot of education based around that. But yeah, I think every part of it was a chore and it was a learning process and I wouldn’t change any of it. We had to learn all of it from working with the people, educating them around the material, how to separate that getting bags of plastic with rocks in which they were adding weight to.

[00:12:52] So yeah, every part of it we had to micromanage..

[00:12:55] Tom Jackson: Uh,

[00:12:56] And make sure it was working and being honest with you, Laura, it’s not perfect now, there are things where we have to reject plastic and say, you know, you need to sort this a little bit better.

[00:13:06] So, it’s a balancing rope of we really wanna help these communities to do it, but we need to make sure it’s viable for us. And we’re a for profit business and that’s the only way we can sustain it. And we see a lot of [00:13:20] NGOs coming in and doing us, you know, a year or an eight month or a six month pilot project.

[00:13:27] Which is great, they’re able to do that, but it’s not sustainable. And if it’s a project, it means they’re gonna come and do it, and then they’re gonna take it away again. So you’re employing people and then you’re having to let them down because you know, you put a budget towards it and that’s just the issue with not it being your core business.

[00:13:44] So for us, we live and breathe this. We spend most of our time talking to these communities and trying to work on the best, best benefit. And you know, there are great people who really want to change it. And you know, we’ve got different types of waste banks with different plastics, which involve different types of people.

[00:14:04] So we very quickly realized, okay, these guys don’t really wanna do it, we need to find someone else in the area who, you know, is, is a chief. Who’s gonna let us operate here, but also is passionate about the people having jobs and the long term of it.

[00:14:19] I loved something that you touched on there around, you know, it’s, we’re making relationships with other humans. And therefore nothing is perfect, but how do we foster that trust? You know, and that sense of actual relationship with one another. I think, there’s the day to day actual doing that we have, but then there’s the actual relational work of showing up as we are, you know?

[00:14:42] What’s your experience there of actually building that relationship?

[00:14:45] Yeah. That’s why we, you know, I moved here and now all our teams based here, bar one, because we, you know, we have to be able to show that we are here and that we do turn up, and that the relationships we build with the individuals is really, really important.

[00:15:01] And for instance, we have one village and chief um, that we work with, who you know is, represents all of the fishermen, uh, In, in the east of Indonesia, which for us is amazing. And he’s a fantastic guy, great family, and really looks after the people in the community. And that allows us to then, you know, there, there’s all this plastic in our rivers and all these, all these coastal communities, of course, have all these rivers that flow out from the city, so there’s waste on their banks and there’s waste in the river, which isn’t their fault.

[00:15:34] It’s come from the major cities. But it, but it’s there. And it’s again, being able to say, Look, you know, we understand this. Building a relationship with you is really important. And, you know, we are here to help you. And, you know, with the fishermen based around that as well. We do collect a little bit from the ocean, but not as much.

[00:15:54] So building a relationship with not only the people on the ground that we talk to, with our local guys, Rudy and Ray, who work in Indonesia full time as, as local , managers for us, being able to, keep that relationship really important. You know, 90% of our business is done through WhatsApp, which has, has a lot of stress to it as well.

[00:16:16] We have to go and see them often. We have to make sure everything’s happy. Do you have safety equipment? Do you have gloves? Do you have bags? You know what’s, what’s the issue? Okay. We are gonna try and build a, a school in the next eight months. Okay, great. So then we’ll be like, let’s collect more material from you, which we can financially give you more profit.

[00:16:36] So not just, you know, handing out funds like I mentioned [00:16:40] before. So being able to have a relationship where you can call Chief up or the Waste Bank operator and say, Look guys, we think what you’re trying to do is really cool. First of all, let’s build out non-recyclable waste, which we can mix with concrete.

[00:16:53] And secondly, let’s try and help you fundraise that, or it will be a mosque or whatever that. Those, those end goals are really important for a relationship because then we’ll push, push, push, trying to help, get the material moving and then having an accountable result for that which the village or the community can be really proud of is a really big part of, you know, what we stand for.

[00:17:15] And not only does that help, you know, Non-recyclable waste going into to bricks or an outlet of some kind. The kids have got somewhere to go to school. You know, education time at school here is maximum about four hours a day. So it’s really how can we keep that longer And also the awareness around plastic in school.

[00:17:36] So relationships from the, the elderlies in the village, to the individuals collecting, to the kids, being able to speak to them, who these guys are, learning English quite quickly compared to their parents.

[00:17:48] So yeah, the relationship’s really important and they have to be managed with care and sometimes it doesn’t go well. Sometimes it does, and you really, you really need to quickly move on because, you know, waste banks is a very hard thing to run and we’ve got a lot of them. And your awareness of people just gets greater and you can understand you

[00:18:09] they’re not happy. What’s wrong? You know? Can we solve it? Okay. No, this person’s actually not interested, just interested in in the profit. And you know, if people just have that goal of profit, then things get missed or shortcuts get taken. So being able to go in there in five seconds or 30 seconds in talking to someone, you know, they’ve changed or their mindset’s changed or

[00:18:33] they’re not working with others, they’re doing it themselves. They’re just trying to keep all the funds for themselves. You know, straight away that that’s not a good place to do it. And you’ll set up camps somewhere else with people who want to get all these people to come in and for someone in a relationship, ideal situation for us, they understand that the more people that come and bring them plastic, The more you know, plastic that they’ll get, which which results in more funds for that waste bank.

[00:18:59] So the more people we have involved in this, the more collectors, the more people we can offer jobs to, the more material we, we can collect. And this, this business only works at scale. It is a big moving operation and it has to be like that. Otherwise, we are not putting a dent in the footprint of ocean plastic and preventing it from, from getting in there.

[00:19:21] You know, we are very early in the stage of the world is trying to stop plastic get in there. Yes, there are people that are trying to take it from the ocean, which is great, but it’s still running into the ocean. But yeah, coming back to Laura, answering your question again, is it’s really important to manage those relationships.

[00:19:40] If you can’t do that, and if you can’t , look after that and build on that, then you know, your operation essentially isn’t, is a disaster and won’t run. If we don’t have that human connection and partnership. You know, we really don’t have anything in the cycle of plastic collection.

[00:19:58] Laura Hartley: And one of the things that I loved there [00:20:00] about when you were talking about this idea of trust and connection was you actually built that through understanding what people desire and what they want, and mutually helping people kind of create that and create those opportunities.

[00:20:13] So whether that was helping to build a mosque or a school, whatever it may be, it was working with actual desires to create something in the world and not just transactional, as you’re saying, through profit. Right.

[00:20:28] I, I wanna scale this out a bit though, because this idea of trust is so important and. You know, a, as a climate activist, I, one of my great struggles in the world at the moment is this idea of greenwashing and this idea of endless consumerism.

[00:20:45] You know, and you mentioned that before, we kind of need to stop plastic as a whole, generally being unnecessarily produced, but we also need to stop at entering the ocean. We also need to learn how to reuse what we already have. So we have these kind of two issues here of trust, you know, the greenwashing.

[00:21:02] How can we trust what is being said and how do we trust that what is actually being manufactured is of benefit to the earth? Yeah. So how do we navigate this, cuz I know greenwashing is a big thing for you. Do you wanna tell us a bit about what it is and how you see it show up?

[00:21:18] Tom Jackson: Absolutely. So yeah, Greenwashing essentially is doing something that, or saying and showing something that you’re not doing.

[00:21:26] And yeah, for us it’s very difficult cuz we’re we all moved here as a social impact company to set this up. And essentially, you know, plastic material, whether it’s coming from the UK, coming from Indonesia, a lot of it looks the same. So there is a big part of the tracking and the traceability is Yeah, sometimes it’s not done.

[00:21:50] So essentially what we do is we track everything. So , we have, uh, you can scan, a QR system , of the tracking chain that we have from collection and origin of where that came from, right through to recycling process to export or, or local uh, sales to someone and then the product it’s made into.

[00:22:10] And indonesia is a small place when you’re a foreigner or foreign companies come here. So you do see people saying and doing things that they’re not. And you know, it’s Indonesia. A lot of people, for instance, in the West, don’t know what’s going on here. It’s a place that needs a lot of people’s help.

[00:22:28] That’s why they’re here. But it’s really, really hard to do what we do. And it’s, that’s not a limitation by funds. It’s a limitation of like it touched on waste banks and being able to do that. You know, people will have people here you know, representing a big company in another place and, you know, they’re relying on that person or that team to tell them what’s happening.

[00:22:49] And to, to say how that’s happening. So again, we had to move here and do it. We had to be in control of it. And sometimes people would tell you one thing and do a different thing.

[00:23:00] I just urge consumers to, and especially companies smaller companies and bigger companies that really want you know, be, be accountable and show what their materials, where it’s coming from, the people they’re impacting. And at the end of the day, people are really scared now cuz they’re this whole greenwashing tag.

[00:23:19] Companies are [00:23:20] really scared of being associated with a social pla social cause, or recycled plastic. Because if they get found out, you know, it’s their reputation. That’s really important. The more greenwashing there is in this space, whether it’s, carbon credit’s being burnt twice, or plastic just coming from a normal recycler or supplier versus you know, where it’s showing where it’s actually come from.

[00:23:44] It’s, yeah, it’s being, it’s being accountable as a brand and that supplier has to understand that, you know, we Honest Ocean is supplying to this company that, you know, they really wanna impact and they wanna show their consumers. And, that’s, that is a premium product cuz the amount of work that we do and the amount of impact that brand wants to supply.

[00:24:07] And that connection’s really important. Now, if you’re a big company and you’ve got, let’s say, 12 of the biggest plastic companies in the world, can you supply social impact plastic to all those big companies and account for every single part of the chain being accounted for, It’s pretty doubtful, especially with the new space of where this social implant social impact plastic is, you know, in our, in our life, lifetime

[00:24:34] plastic. So

[00:24:36] Laura Hartley: as consumers, what can we do to really recognize that one, there is an incredibly outrageous amount of greenwashing out there of companies and products who, you know, have been co-opted. It’s been co-opted by capitalism as a marketing tool. You know, how do we actually just sell more and now by seeming green? how do we recognize that versus companies that are actually sustainable, actually regenerative and actually doing things for the Earth.

[00:25:03] Tom Jackson: Yeah that’s great question. And it’s not an easy one to answer. So the the first thing is , as time goes on, those, those companies that aren’t doing it the right way , will be made accountable for, you know, that’s really the, the hope we have behind it. So that will minimize people in the market space.

[00:25:21] And the consumers, it really doesn’t feel like you have much power, but you really do in terms of purchasing power. And for instance, if there’s two things on a shelf one that, for instance, our products we’re currently going through this at the moment, will have a QR code on it, which before you’ve even bought it on the, in the shop.

[00:25:38] You can scan that on a product and know which community you’ve impacted through a QR code. And that’s a really important thing. And if you can have that across a range of products, from detergent to your single use plastic bottles, which, you know, we try and stay away from, but it’s a massive part, part of the plastic manufacturing chain.

[00:25:57] If you have that with a slight higher price tag versus something right next to it, which is wrapped in plastic packaging, it’s in a plastic bottle which doesn’t have that, and they’re both social impact products. It, it’s really can that prove where that’s come from? And if it can’t, why can’t it? Cuz we are in a space of technology which we’re surrounded by, which is actually not a very difficult thing to do considering working with plastic is so.

[00:26:25] If a consumer, you and I, Laura, go and buy that companies pivot to how consumers react, and you know, you think it might be one purchase in one shop, but if you’re in that supermarket or if you, if someone else in the next [00:26:40] town is doing the same in that, and then quickly in that region, it’s 10 people and then within that country it’s a hundred on that day, that data adds up really quickly for a company.

[00:26:51] If it doesn’t sell, it doesn’t go on the shelf. Everything is created for us, for for being convenient and things like that, so we can really start reacting and, you know, we’re all in a hurry. Everyone’s got busy lives. So things on shelves are, you know, you know, are set up to be quick and, and, and to be taken away quickly.

[00:27:11] But as consumers, we have massive power in terms of what we pick up off the shelf and what we’ve put, put in our bags. And , we’re trying to get everyone to offer that as a supermarket. For people to be able to feel better and contribute to the bigger picture.

[00:27:26] Laura Hartley: So, you know, I loved what you said because I think we often think as consumers that we are powerless, You know, that we don’t have agency, and I really do believe that how we spend our money matters.

[00:27:38] That every single dollar we spend helps shape our world, right? And what I see again and again is an emphasis in capitalist cultures to put all of the emphasis for change onto individuals to change the market. And as much as my purchases matter and they do help shape things, it also doesn’t hold the collective agency and their collective change that we actually need.

[00:28:02] You know? So there’s this, there’s this tension and this. Yes. And between how we spend individually matters. And organizations need to change of their own accord. Now what I see is that organizations that often promote this idea of greenwashing have one bottom line. You know, it’s profit, you know, that is all that they’re kind of driven by.

[00:28:24] Social enterprises is one form of a different way of doing business. You know, there’s people exploring anti capitalist business, which is more like where I play. There’s obviously B Corps and different forms of social enterprises. Mm-hmm. , what value does, does having a values-based business bring, you know, how do we infuse that and what does it offer us?

[00:28:44] Tom Jackson: Yeah, it, that’s such a great question. And, and first of all, you know, it, it has to come from so many elements because this is such a big supply chain, and we’re in a fast moving world. So first of all, businesses that produce plastic or put it into the shelves, cannot blame consumers for not recycling it if they’re the ones putting it on the shelf.

[00:29:06] And if you think, if you are an alien, finding out about what our planet is doing, You would, you know, you would either laugh or cry because we see it throughout history in this space. Um, Consumers, you know, it’s a fast paced world. Things need to go quickly and they need a circular economy. And that’s really, you know, where we’re at at the moment.

[00:29:27] Consumers purchasing the right way is a massive part of that, you know, as, as a ocean prevention supplier from plastic. We spend our life talking to these big companies. But if their consumers aren’t asking for it, they don’t, they don’t want to come to us. Right. And you said there’s a big thing about profit?

[00:29:46] Absolutely. You know, is it ex expensive buying material from us? A yes compared to normal recycled plastic. It is a premium, but then that also needs to echo, echo down to consumers where they’re [00:30:00] happy to also pay for that as well. Like you said, Laura, it’s not the, it doesn’t rely on the consumers and we see it on TV going recycle more, recycle better. And it’s, you know, it’s being put on the shelves by the companies that are creating the new plastic.

[00:30:16] And then on the other hand, As soon as it goes through the consumer’s hand, then it’s waste, right? So it’s new plastic and then it’s going into the bucket and then it’s waste. And now it’s a problem. So for places like here, it’s a massive problem, but even in the West, with the recycling infrastructure, 9% of that material is getting recycled.

[00:30:35] And the reason for that is because, you know, if it’s dirty and it goes into a cycling, , recycling, box, whichever one you have at home. Then that’s high contamination of food, which then won’t, probably won’t get processed by the council or the recycler who’s processing that, which it’s then deemed a low value plastic, which it then goes to landfill.

[00:30:59] So consumers have a lot of power and it’s not putting the pressure points on them. It’s putting the pressure points on the supplier through the purchase of what you wanna do, and the recycling infrastructure. You know, recycling was always put there to solve a, a problem from new plastically manufacture.

[00:31:18] So it’s like peddling a bike, recycling world has been trying to keep up with it. And you know, we are never gonna slow down as a, as a planet and a human race trying to move forward. So it’s suppliers being accountable and we can see them now moving to paying a little bit more for a social impact material.

[00:31:40] And it’s the consumers leading on saying from from products they buy, This isn’t good enough. And it feels powerless as one person, like you said. It really does. Even, you know, we are all consumers when we’re individuals, but it’s coming together and we saw a great thing in, in Bristol in the UK a few years ago where everyone took their food out of the plastic in the supermarket and left them with it.

[00:32:05] I think it was Tesco’s Supermarket and, and Tesco’s was, well, what do we do now? We’ve got all this plastic waste. First of all, that’s very high grade plastic because it’s right there and it hasn’t gone through waste. So first of all, it’s a great point. Second point, supermarkets should really weight it up and go, Oh my God, if people are doing that means we’re not doing enough.

[00:32:28] And they control what their suppliers do, right? Yes. Okay. It needs to go through many people’s hands and it needs to be clean and it needs to be healthy. But it’s amazing just to show an example what consumers can do

[00:32:39] Laura Hartley: that’s a, I love that example, although I would almost say that that is less of an example of consumers and what they can do and instead what activists and collective ideas and movements can do because there’s still, Yeah, there, there is this challenge though, in what we’re talking about that, you know, as you said, well, you know, companies need to pay more to use recycled plastic or proper you know, 360 closed loop plastic.

[00:33:08] Then we need to be willing to pay more. But at the same time, in a world with increasing wealth inequality, you know, especially coming out of the pandemic and these incredible few years that we’ve had with the increasing impacts of [00:33:20] climate change, you know, we’re not seeing the wealth disparity gap, you know, close in.

[00:33:25] We’re we’re seeing it get larger. Yeah. So again, we’re kind of needing to infuse these organizations actually with a different set of values and by which they make their decisions. And I know you mentioned there that yeah, we don’t slow down as a world. , but what if we did, I mean, you run a value based organization.

[00:33:42] How do we inspire that in others?

[00:33:45] Tom Jackson: That if the world went back to a simpler way of, and you know, the re the reason why, refill your own bags and things like that. In terms of these shops, I think you got a good amount of them in Oz, in the UK and I’m sure in the US as well, which is great.

[00:34:01] But yeah, I mean if that doesn’t prove as evidence, why that hasn’t been rolled out of scale sort of shows you, unfortunately the world, which we are, you know, we are running so fast for things and we’ve all got things and you know, children and dogs and all sorts, and it’s trying to keep that ease.

[00:34:18] But if we did go back a step and really looked at what we are doing, you know in terms of the footprint of not just us as individuals, but that village or our community or our town or whatever that is? And then you are, for instance, ranked worldly on how well you are doing things, which is always something I’ve been really interested in, in terms of can your vil, not just you, but can your village or your town do it better than other people?

[00:34:47] And essentially everyone’s in competition with each other to try and do the best, right? Being the, being the joint result of the world, benefiting in a better place and emissions and everything. Whether that’s from bicycle to plastic consumption. And I, and it’s, it’s a really interesting factor, and a question or you say, of slowing down because when you slow down things, you can review things better and you’ve got more time to do that.

[00:35:13] And whether that starts as one thing, which it being you know, refilling your products to taking a bicycle, to being able to do things at a slower pace, and then the demand of work and the demand of pressure social pressures and families and things like that.

[00:35:32] It’s really hard balancing act of taking longer. We’ve all got smartphones. We all expect things within five minutes. For instance, I don’t have Amazon delivery here, and it’s really nice not being able to, to have that around. But, but speaking to families and things, having that, you know, that same day or next day delivery sets expectations for yourself.

[00:35:53] And then you’re getting angry when it doesn’t turn up at the time it says, which is crazy because it, you, you only ordered it 13 hours ago. So as we go faster and faster, how can we, you know, put incentives into slowing down and reviewing what we are doing in terms of individuals, but as a human race. And I think it’s really important to have, you know, not these government, these massive budgets, but in these towns and these communities, how can this village, how can this town run off 80% solar?

[00:36:27] How can we cut our emissions? Do we, do we need that street to have cars in it? Can it that be bicycle? How, how many people have got bicycles in this village? Oh, 75% of them. How many would be [00:36:40] motivated to buy them if they had to pop to their shops or their work in that town? So, and it comes from incentivizing people, and it has to be that way.

[00:36:48] You know, us as humans, we, if there’s an easier way we take it because, you know, we’ve got a hundred problems in our personal lives, we don’t want another one to add to that societal, structural issue. So, Saying, ah, , you can come into work 20 minutes later if you’re gonna take the bike, the start at nine 20 instead of nine.

[00:37:07] A lot of companies won’t like that cuz that’s not helpful for them as a, as a business side of it. But what does that do as a social impact for your company? It shows that you are treating your employees better and a relationship between business and environment is, is creating a really close

[00:37:27] connection, which we don’t have. We really don’t. People, people don’t understand that, you know, if you make printers for a company or if, if you are a marketing company, how you can uh, positively effect the environment even if, you know, even if it’s a tech company. How can you do that around your employees and creating carbon or reducing that through what you’re doing?

[00:37:50] It affects every single person. And, you know, , now we’ve got this amazing opportunity now of, we see the millennials and the Gen-Z generations coming through. They won’t work for Big companies. That what don’t supply motivations or social causes or community employees coming together to, to have you know, a social bond through that.

[00:38:15] And if you are a big company listening to this and it’s now 2085 and you’re still not doing it, you probably don’t have any employees. Because it is a really important part, and it’s fantastic to see these younger generations just going, No, we’re not gonna put up with it. And we can already see that. And they want to go to that social causes.

[00:38:33] And that’s a change in structural from these massive corporates, which you started at 24 and now you’re 50 and you’re in the same business, which is a traditional way of doing a lot of business kind of ways. And that’s completely changed societal movement. And it’s really exciting to see whether

[00:38:51] giving them an option to work from home, take a bike in, having offsets in a business, which you didn’t think, Oh, I can’t offset a business because you know, we uh, we design flyers or letterheads, of course you can. It’s the culture you’ve created and it’s what you can show that you’ve done

[00:39:09] through your employees or your change or the values that you want to grow. As a result, you get more people wanting to come and work for your business. Doesn’t matter what business that is, if you are giving them you know, better workflow or happy work life it’s gonna work. And we work, Honest Ocean works a very intense

[00:39:29] routine and that we, we all do six jobs. So we work a four day, work week and that we know that if we push, we, if we haven’t hit our goals for the week by Wednesday, Thursday’s, push day. And yes, of course there are issues at being a startup. We do have to do a couple hours on Friday and things like that, but, It’s really important to create a culture based around motivation and a happy work and, and social output and not even on purpose.

[00:39:58] I see a few of [00:40:00] our guys, you know, doing a little bit of work on Sunday. Or Friday mornings, and I haven’t asked them to do that. That’s just the culture that we’ve created based around them having the work on their mind and just loving it. And you know, we saw in New Zealand with IBM doing the four hour work week as well, it really does work because if people are socially happy at home, they’re highly motivated to do their job, even if they don’t love it as much.

[00:40:25] So yeah, I think every part of being accountable, slowing down positive impact in a business that way.

[00:40:33] Do we need to recycle it or can we take 10 of those bottles and put it into a kids art project? Like it, it’s really interesting to, to, to pick that question apart. And as you can see, I don’t have a quick answer for it.

[00:40:47] Well,

[00:40:47] Laura Hartley: I think that’s because there isn’t a quick answer, to be honest. You know, we. We’re talking about slowing down, You know, in a sense that answer shouldn’t be quick, but there’s a lot of places that you unpacked that. One. I’m a big proponent of the four day work week. I think this idea that we were all supposed to work, you know, eight, nine hours a day, five days a week, is, you know, a relic from a different age.

[00:41:11] But you also mentioned the importance of community in creating change that it’s not just about what we do as individuals, but you know, and not just about large government systemic change, but it’s also about as communities, how do we want to come together and what are the values that we’re choosing to, to live by and to work with.

[00:41:31] I, you know, as we kind of come to a close with this conversation, I have a couple of last questions for you. And I, I want to ask first about what you would say to somebody who was thinking about starting a social enterprise.

[00:41:44] Because a lot of the time, you know, when we have these ideas, we get overwhelmed or we think, I can’t do that, or it’s too big, or I dont how to start. How does somebody who has an idea just start? And get

[00:41:58] Tom Jackson: going. Yeah. I love this. So first of all how do they get going? It’s by, it’s by doing it. So, but that can’t be done without a plan or a strategy and.

[00:42:13] You know, this is my third business. So I do love this question and it really comes from what do you wanna do and what’s the emotional add in that you are doing because, any business, whether it’s social or normal, it takes up a hell of a lot of energy, let alone emotional.

[00:42:31] And for all of us who are trying to create a green business out there it, you know, you go to bed and you are, you are excited and things like that and it takes up so much energy and it’s being able to think, right, so where, where do I fit in with, you know, a social enterprise, who’s not doing it?

[00:42:51] Which is a company that maybe I can benefit from doing this? The way to start Laura, is just by talking to people, talk to companies and say, I’m thinking about doing this. You know, would, would you guys benefit from me, you know, me doing that as a third party company to you?.

[00:43:08] Maybe, or yeah, but we need you to be really big and then we can buy from you. So it’s like, okay, so that’s not the right fit. So you really need to just talk to people. Business is people [00:43:20] and you know, I would say don’t try and do it on your own. You know, I tried it for years on my own, and all you’re doing is creating a cocoon around yourself.

[00:43:28] So talk to companies and see what it is. Say you wanted to, and I used this example before, Measure your carbon coming out of an exhaust pipe and you make this tiny, little awesome measuring tool, right, That you just clip on an exhaust that can measure data. Okay. You might think, Oh, you know, this is a little thing.

[00:43:47] No one’s gonna like it. There might be an automation company out there thinking, this is amazing. We want to be able to show like our old cars versus our new one. And it’s just being able to go and take talk to people. LinkedIn is a fantastic process of being able to talk to people, whatever you wanna do, it’s really easy to think, I wanna solve all of this.

[00:44:08] And, you know, all that’s gonna happen is we’re, we’re all gonna have mental health issues from trying to save the world and we can’t do it. So everyone, we need to find that little USP that, that little unique selling point where in the social green space where it can help and, and what that is. And there’s so many grants now, which

[00:44:27] it is not always the easiest way of doing it, but if you can just find that little, little thing that you find that’s really important, don’t try and solve the world straight away. Just try and start. Find, find that one thing or that village or that product that you can bring to market, which can, it doesn’t have to be the, you know, in 10 years that product’s not gonna look like how you start.

[00:44:53] So don’t worry about it being perfect. Just worry about it being in a place where, where you can create it and offer value to businesses, and then they can offer to consumers. Or if you are offering straight to consumers even better, how can you work that into your business?

[00:45:09] And it needs to be financially viable. It needs to be socially viable. And it, it needs to be scalable really, if you want to be able to make a massive impact. So Laura, I’d say just start, Just talk to people. And as passionate as you are about these social impacts, you need to keep that business head on as well.

[00:45:29] Uh, Saying from business experience, I’ve gone down a route of, I got into this recycling village and I just wanted to get stuff going, and I felt how bad it was. And I, you know, we bought machinery, I bought machinery for it, and then they didn’t uphold it. So that was me emotionally rushing into things where I should have, you know, Planned a little bit more, but yeah.

[00:45:49] Startups in a green space are needed and are needed yesterday. So if you do have an idea around green space and you think it’s good, first of all, don’t ask 10 of your closest friends, because sometimes people don’t always want you to succeed in your circles. Go and speak to some business people.

[00:46:08] Create that network around you. Get on LinkedIn. If that person’s in your, in your area, go for a coffee, build that network and then ask them. And then they might even be like, Oh, I love that. I’m thinking about quit my job. Let’s do it together. And organically that’s how it should be.

[00:46:23] Laura Hartley: Yeah. I, I love that. And I actually, I so agree with you.

[00:46:27] You know, there is a space to share our dreams and we should, but also be very careful when they’re in their, like, incubation phase of who you share them with. Yeah. Because not everyone. will believe in them. Not everybody will support them. [00:46:40] And so finding that space of actually like, you know what, I, I believe in this.

[00:46:45] I’m safe with this. I’m comfortable with this. And then as you say, talking to people is so important.

[00:46:50] So I wanna say the Public Love project is all about remaking the world. So I want to ask this last question. What is your vision of a more just and regenerative world, and what role do you hope that Honest Ocean can play in the year ahead in creating that?

[00:47:08] Tom Jackson: Wow. Yeah, so I really hope as a human race and, and a globe, you know, we’re trying to run, everyone’s trying to get to the next planet before we’ve cleaned up this one. So it’s really to have responsibility, not as individuals, but as you know, as humans and as the shift of the government and, you know, not the financial breakdown, like we said before, it’s going to the wrong places.

[00:47:34] So how do we elevate those areas of stress? How do we change? And how do we create legislation based around yeah, you can call it a social push, but it’s not that, it’s a starting again push. So it’s being able to , financially put people in better situations and share that, share that wealth through smaller businesses, and that’s where it needs to come from.

[00:47:58] You know, there’s four or five mass large businesses that control pretty much the movement of the world from mining all the way from manufacturing. So it’s being able to change the shift of, of where financial structure goes and how we can do that across smaller businesses to create one bigger social push and a.

[00:48:19] Circle, circular economy at scale. I mean, within the 10 years, that’s really, for me would be a, a change that we really need to make and to be able to break down the barriers of, of where that funds are getting dedicated to. For Honest Ocean, it’s really to have as many people as we can collecting material through this.

[00:48:41] Being able to work with the government, create better infrastructure here is generally throughout Africa and South East Asia as well. And you know, we’re a small company, so being able to trace plastic when it gets sold, when it gets recycled, where it’s in landfill. Being able to have the technology to map where that is and why it’s, why it’s gone there.

[00:49:01] You know, as recycling industry, no one can really tell where their plastics gone, and we can only do that through working with, you know, big companies that produce either, you know, single use or long term products. We can only do that by partnering with them. So that’s really a big part of, of how our business model can succeed is, is finding the right partner.

[00:49:21] To be able to fit with and yeah, we really, we really hope to be the tech based social platform in the next few years where anyone can see where our plastic’s doing, its public information and how we can show other companies how to be accountable and we can solve it for them. I think that’s a massive, a massive part of our growth as um Honest ocean and.

[00:49:44] That’s really not only for us, but showing companies like, Why did your material go here? And they’re like, Oh, we gave that to a waste management company to look after. And they said they did the right thing. Well, you haven’t, and that’s not your fault. It’s their fault. But we are gonna [00:50:00] change that, and you are gonna pay us to do that.

[00:50:02] So that’s the kind of thing that we are really working on. And we are not a scared business in terms of you know, the people that are greenwashing and the, the people that are doing the wrong way. We’re not gonna moan about it. We’re just gonna show them how you do it better and then we expect them to follow suit or be held accountable to that.

[00:50:19] And then, and if everyone had that outlook as a bus business with value, this world would be a beau Much better place already.

[00:50:26] Laura Hartley: I think that is wonderful. You know, that accountability aspect is something that we so need. So Tom, I really wanna thank you so much for coming on the show today and sharing your story and everything that you’re doing with Honest Ocean.

[00:50:39] Tom Jackson: Laura, thank you so much and it’s been a pleasure being on here. I’m really excited to see when this platform is gonna, Take over the world of social empowerment and getting people’s voices heard. I’m really excited and hopefully we can talk in a year or two and see where we’re both at and .

[00:50:57] Really excited to chat to you again, Laura. Thank you. Thank you for your time. I’d love

[00:51:01] Laura Hartley: that. Thank you so much. That is all we have time for today is everybody. Please go check out Tom and Honest Ocean. All of his details are in the show notes below so you can check them out. I love it when listeners are able to suggest topics or guests, so please head on over to our website, PublicLove.Enterprises. You can send me an email. Otherwise follow me on Instagram at @laura.h.hartley.

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