Are you willing to work with (fill in name of big polluting industrial company)? We get asked this question a lot and overtime our position on this has changed. It’s an interesting dilemma for a young sustainable startup looking to make impact in the world. Let’s first zoom out and look at how we got to the position of even being able to ask ourselves such a question.
The ECO coin started as an idea. An idea that our economic system no longer worked for our ecology. This idea was made concrete when the team had our first opportunity to really build a currency that rewards people for their sustainable actions at a forward thinking music festival in Amsterdam called DGTL. They had a goal of becoming the first fully circular music festival ever and to achieve this needed their audience to change their behaviour to achieve this vision. It was a perfect partner for us and we loved working with the festival as our understanding of the world was so similar. We both believe that the world needs to change now and to do that we need to get people engaged and involved in a fun and social way.
Our success at the festival was picked up by a number of media outlets and this lead to some larger corporates knocking at our door. Suddenly we were faced with a decision that we hadn't really had to think about before: who do we want to work with? Should our doors be open to anyone willing to pay us? Should we only work with vanguard sustainable organisations who we had full moral and ethical alignment to? Was there something reasonable and in between these two positions?
In the beginning it's very easy to take a position of only working with sustainable organisations. Sure their budgets may not be as big, but their hearts are in the right place and we know they are in it for the long run. But digging a little deeper it became clear that what we offer organisations is a way to change their culture to one where sustainability is deeply rooted and thought about in all aspects of the business. To do that with organisations that are already leaning towards a sustainably minded approach is great however if we want the most impact we need to make partnerships with unlikely people. In actual fact, businesses that are not sustainable should be are main focus as they have the most change to make!
This isn't to say that we'll blindly work with anyone regardless of how much ecological damage their business does. Unfortunately greenwashing is just a part of business these days and something we want to avoid. Thats why before we start a working with a new business we make sure to spend the time learning about their culture, their goals and the extent they are open to change that in a positive and sustainable way. If there is a fit, then both parties are excited to get going!
The way we do business and with whom may not work for everyone but it works for us. We are proud of the partnerships we have built so far and look forward to working with people and organisations who want to change their behaviour, change their culture and ultimately rebalance our economy and ecology.