Amelia Gammon is the inspirational CEO and Founder of bide, a responsible consumer brand producing eco-products that have social impact. Rather than making their eco-products in a factory, bide brings the factories into people's homes. The team trains these people, provides them with the raw materials and pays them a fair living wage for the products they create.
Amelia joins Craig Turner for episode 18 of the Founders For Good Podcast where they discuss how bide is setting the new standard for what it means to be a responsible, eco-friendly brand.
Keep reading to discover...
🇬🇧 How many people in the UK are unable to do ‘conventional work’
💚 How greenwashing has affected building a brand consumers can trust
How Amelia is creating a truly eco-friendly and responsible consumer product
How many people in the UK are unable to do ‘conventional work’?
Amelia: When I first started doing this, I used the term ‘unskilled workers’ and now I don't because these people are incredibly skilled. It's just that those skills hadn't been previously surfaced.
Part of the biggest issue that we have right now is that the common understanding of working is that you get up, you leave your home, you go to a place of work, you do your job and then you return to your house.
Through personal circumstances that may be related to health, perhaps you're a carer, single parent, you live in a refuge, you're homeless - then you can’t participate in work in the way you’re expected to.
That means there is a massive proportion of available workforce that's underutilised, and as a result become marginalized. Globally, 34% of the global population is made up of people who are refugees, people who are prison leavers, people with addictions and those who don't have a permanent place of residence.
Those are all types of people that we work with who historically have been overlooked when it comes to being viable contributors to their local economies and to the local workforce.
It's not a problem that's getting better. In fact, it's a problem that's getting worse. There's so much innovation around the future of work in terms of conventionally skilled roles, but there's no future of work innovation for those who don't have that type of experience or higher education.
How has greenwashing affected building a brand consumers can trust?
Amelia: We know how detrimental greenwashing can be, particularly for smaller companies like ours in comparison to the big megastars - like a Proctor and Gamble or a GSK who've got the money to be able to really cut to the market with greenwashing.
Although conversely, I do more recently think that greenwashing can be helpful, because at least it starts stimulating the conversation about being more eco-friendly. At least that conversation gets consumers thinking and challenging and questioning what they're choosing to spend their money on and where things derive from.
Ultimately, it's not consumer activity that's going to solve the climate crisis on its own. It has to be the combination of consumer changes, which obviously influences demand, which then in turn gets those big companies that I described earlier rethinking the way they make things and source things.
It has to extend to the government level, where they start creating new policies to make sure that the right environmental standards are put in place and all businesses and participants in wider society have to reach those.
But for us, our environmental impact wasn't a secondary consideration. It was the absolute grassroots of our organisation that we would go down the most principled route we could to make sure that the environmental credentials of the products that we're producing meet the highest possible standards.
How is bide creating a truly eco-friendly and responsible consumer product?
Amelia: Bide is a consumer brand creating eco-friendly products. But, instead of making them in factories, we bring factories to the kitchen tables of historically marginalised people across the UK.
What that means is we train people how to make each of our eco products in their own homes. We supply them with the raw ingredients - we literally deliver it to their doorstep so they don't have to even leave their homes. They hand-mix and pack the products, we collect them and then we distribute it to our end customers, both on D2C basis but also to our business partners.
I try not to use the word‘sustainable’. Responsible and thoughtful are better ways to describe it, for me. This is because it means that we have thought very, very carefully about every aspect of what goes into our products and the process of making them to make sure that they are as environmentally sound as possible.
We made a very bold decision at the beginning to choose packaging that was basically useless. We chose packaging that at its end of life, you could compost it very easily, which means that we don't expect it to last very long. It's very unusual because normally consumer brand products are all about beautiful design and longevity and selling the experience in the packaging itself.
Our products are made from vegan, non-toxic raw ingredients. That's super important to us, not only because we want it to be good for the water system, but also because they're being made in people's homes. The majority of our ingredients are actually food grade, and you would probably find them in your kitchen cupboards as you use them to bake cakes.
We've gone right back to the basics. We're not a 20-ingredient cleaning product company, we're a five-ingredient cleaning product company. They work, they perform incredibly well, but they don't leave any kind of lasting impact on our environment.