How many times have you found yourself in a bind where you need a product and can't find it in stores or, for the sake of time, it's just easier to buy it online? You're not alone -- there were roughly 256 million online shoppers in 2020, and that number is increasing every year! But did you know that shopping online CAN be better for the environment (and for people) when done thoughtfully?
Rachel Kois, CEO and Founder of Simple Switch, joins Katie Kurpanek, Eco-Living Coach and Podcast Host, to share her story of building an easy-to-use, online platform with currently over 4,000 products -- each with a direct social and/or environmental impact! Rachel is a "stubborn idealist" who firmly believes we can change our systems and infrastructures so that our consumer habits make positive impacts on this world, rather than the harm we're more often seeing today. Simple Switch is all about encouraging people to do the best they can, take one step at a time, and is not into pressuring with shame-based tactics but instead opts to make these choices super easy and accessible to anyone!
MIT article mentioned in episode: "Environmental Analysis of US Online Shopping"
If you want to shop online with Simple Switch and support my business in the process, please use my affiliate link here!
This show is brought to you by listener support, and I'm sending a huge shout-out to these patrons for making it happen: Elizabeth R, Nancy K, Sarah W, Jodi S, Julia B, Liliana S, Karyn W, Linda M, Detlef K, and Kelly K!
To become a patron and receive all the perks of this community, visit www.patreon.com/allthingssustainable and join for as low as $3/month!
To learn more with your host and Eco-Living Coach, Katie Kurpanek, visit www.thatminimallife.com for blog posts and personalized coaching info!
TRANSCRIPTS FOR EACH EPISODE can be found here: https://allthingssustainable.buzzsprout.com
More about Simple Switch:
Rachel Kois, Founder/CEO, Simple Switch
USE THIS LINK if you would like to shop with Simple Switch and also support my business! I will get a small financial kickback at no extra cost to you. :)
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You're listening to all things sustainable, where we unpack topics related to sustainable living, as well as how to apply specific actions to your own life. I'm your eco living coach, and podcast host, Katie Kurpanek. Let's jump in. Hey, everybody, welcome back to the All Things Sustainable podcast. And if you're brand new to the show, then welcome. I'm so glad that you're here. Thank you for joining another episode of season two, where we've been talking about how to become an even more conscious consumer, which basically just means aligning your purchasing habits with your values, your ethics and your overall goals to care for the environment. Today's conversation was fantastic. I had the privilege of interviewing Rachel Kois, who is the CEO and founder of Simple Switch, which is an online shopping platform that's a lot like Amazon, except for it has a direct social and environmental impact with every single purchase that you make. And currently they have over 4000 products and still growing. Rachel is super passionate about being able to meet people wherever they're at, and giving them the encouragement and the motivation that they need to start somewhere just change one thing about your shopping habits to make it more sustainable and more environmentally friendly. And then to just keep going from there and doing the best that you can. She calls herself a stubborn idealist, which I love. And she has fully embraced and lives out her mindset, which is that we can create systematic change for good As consumers, we just need to change the systems that we have created that are not working. Most of the time, it is not our fault that we cannot shop as sustainably as we want to. Because honestly, the systems and structures that are set up around us are not built for that at least not currently. But platforms like simple switch are changing this. They're making it easier and much more accessible and affordable to be able to shop with direct environmental and social good. Rachel goes into depth about this. She also goes into depth about how and why online shopping can actually be better for the environment, and not necessarily the enemy, as we might think most of the time. And she also talks in depth about labels and certifications and greenwashing, just basic things that are helpful to keep an eye out for as consumers who are trying to do better in this world. There's so much more in this episode that is so helpful. Her tips at the very end for where you can even start today are amazing. So let's just dive right in. And I hope that you enjoy today's episode. Thank you so much for joining me, Rachel, I am so happy to finally be able to have this conversation. And the fact that we actually got to meet in person the other day was just so wonderful.Rachel Kois:
Yeah, absolutely. So thankful for the work that you do and excited to talk to you.Katie Kurpanek:
Thank you. So it was so much fun. Last week, at the time of this recording was the international women's week. And then in Colorado in particular, there was like the, you know, Colorado women's day conference. And so we finally got to meet in person. And you were also nominated for the good business Colorado Outstanding Woman Award, which is amazing, Outstanding Woman and Business Award. So congratulations for that nomination.Rachel Kois:
Yeah, thank you so much. It was really fun to be a finalist and just participate. I mean, there was outstanding women in STEM and Arts and Business and just see a lot of the finalists and nominees was really special.Katie Kurpanek:
That is so special. Yeah, I loved being a part of it. And I was just blown away by how many people were nominated for like different awards and their stories. But yeah, you I mean, from what I already know about simple switch like you are 110% deserving of that nomination, and I can't wait to talk to you more about your business today. Could you tell us just a little bit about like who you are, and you know, like, who are your people? What are you passionate about? And then kind of lead into like, how would you describe simple switch and what drove you to create this business?Rachel Kois:
Definitely. So my name is Rachel, Rachel Kois. I am the founder and CEO of Simple Switch.org. We're, shortly, an online marketplace for ethical and sustainable business. So I'll say more about that later. But as far as me I am born and raised in Colorado, I'm fourth generation Colorado and very outdoorsy loves climbing skiing, to being just, you know, whatever nature I can get my hands on as my playground. I love to take that. So grew up really sustainability focused on both sides. I just feel like my family has always really cared about the outdoors. And because we've recreated there so well and so often cared so much about taking care of it and making sure that we are leaving no trace and leaving it better than we found it. So a huge part of who I am is plants and nature and all those kinds of things. I am the proud owner of 10 backyard chickens. So I like to say that because I think it's one of the quirkiest and most important things about me. I love gardening and spending time with people, which we're just about able to do, again, finally, which is great. I something I'm passionate about, I think I'm really passionate about sustainability in a lot of forms. So not only environmental sustainability, which is extremely important, right, the climate crisis is present, and there's work that needs to be done. But also, I would say sustained health sustained justice. So you know, when we're thinking about things like mental health of myself, of my community of my, you know, friends and peers and colleagues, those kinds of things, but sustainability and social justice as well. And you know, what work we can be doing to create systems change. And that is, I would say, what led me to start simple switch. So like I said, we're online shopping platform for ethical and sustainable products, we essentially are on a mission to normalize that kind of shopping when it comes to online shopping. So 800 billion a year is that just in the US just online, so we want to shift a lot of that to companies were making a positive social and environmental impact. And the way that I got started in that is essentially as a consumer. So I think what sets us apart at simple switch is that were really focused on the ease and convenience, that you would get from something like a Walmart or something like an Amazon, we don't want it to be difficult to make these kinds of purchasing decisions, because we know that will leave a great deal of people out. People who aren't, you know, who don't identify as a, as an eco warrior, or people who don't understand, you know, some systems of justice, and maybe they are blissfully unaware of them. Or maybe they, you know, just don't have time to care. Or maybe they actually, you know, feel some, some shame or embarrassment about not knowing about those things. And I think even that can ostracize people from these kinds of purchases. So, I started as a consumer who was really fired up about social justice, I had just finished some business consulting in South Africa, and was frustrated that my clients, amazing entrepreneurs, did not have the access to market that I would have, right, they didn't have the access to just the people who could spend money on what they were selling. And they were amazing entrepreneurs, but that was never gonna go away for them. Right. That's unless they moved, you know, whether that be city country for business plan. So when I came back, I was just really in the mindset of how can I? How can I help people like that have more access to market like, what can I just as one person do? And then as I mentioned, I'm also very environmentally focused. So I got my wheels turning about that as well. You know, what, I knew that there were zero waste kind of companies out there. And I, you know, this was 2015. So it was about seven years ago. Now, that's wild. And, at the same time, was seeing companies like Amazon, and I was studying business at the time and setting up membership and saw companies like Amazon really thriving on you know, consumer behavior and consumer desire and need for convenience. Online shopping being obviously the primary method for that, and I just didn't feel like social and ethical and sustainable business was keeping up. So that is what I've been pretty singularly focused on since then, that is what I've known, you know, I'd be doing we are three years into the actual selling to customers, are about to fundraise from our community and investors to grow. Yeah, well and I've skipped a step-- basically, I was so frustrated about it, that I decided that I needed to fix the problem. So me myself being like, Okay, I'm gonna just spend in this way. You know, I'm passionate about sustainability and social social justice, I'm going to spend in ways that support that then I realized how difficult it was. And if you've tried, like, some people are really good at it. But if they're good at it, they have put a lot of time and energy into being good at it a lot of research a lot of shrewdness, right, you really have to kind of go into it with some previous understanding of things like certifications or things like that, especially now, when I started it. I think there was less of an awareness of these kinds of products and companies now there's an awareness of it. There's so much awareness that some companies as we know are, you know, using greenwashing techniques and kind of flowery language to make you wonder, like maybe this is a really good product, you know, product and program and things like that. It can just be really confusing. So yeah, I have now been working on it for many years and growing it and excited about where we're headed.Katie Kurpanek:
That is so amazing. I am really excited about everything that you shared. I had lots of questions already, like prepared in my head that touched on so many of those things I've got to take a one at a time. But I think even thinking about the whole why like the big picture behind living sustainably, like that's what the first season of this podcast was about, covering all those connections, because living sustainably in a way that cares for the planet does like indirectly and directly impact your health, your physical health, your community and like the social justice aspect, like all the things that you listed, it's all interconnected. And so now going into this season, I'm really honing in on like, how do we become more conscious consumers then because like, a lot of us, we get the why behind it. But like you said, it can be so hard to figure out where to start. And I think about a lot of my listeners, even my own friends and family members, like if you're a college student, you are probably bogged down by so many things on your plate and you're working and like you're just trying to make it you don't have time to dig into like making sure that all of your purchases are sustainable, a lot of the time. So or like, you know, myself as a parent, and anybody else is just basically-Rachel Kois:
honestly all of us, right? Like, no matter what that factor is for you, there are things that you need to take care of. Right, like unless you're just totally set financially, totally set, like socially, whatever, which is like almost none of us, right? So like if we're going after those people, sure. But that's not what we should be going after. Because that's not realistic.Katie Kurpanek:
Yes, exactly. And like, if you are just also worrying about how to even pay your own bills, then I know like there can be a huge turnoff to some of the in person, you know, more sustainable focused stores. Like not all of them, but a lot of them have these products that are pretty, you know, not expensive, but just more pricey than like what you would find at a typical big box store that's more convenient, or Amazon. So thinking about Simple Switch being an online option, like I know, you've described it this way so often, but it's very comparable to Amazon, it's just now you have an option to shop online in a way that like you know, is going to have a sustainable and ethical impact, which is very, very unique. And you've also mentioned before that like, like when I've said shopping online isn't always the enemy to climate change and our carbon footprint you've even mentioned, like, it doesn't have to be the enemy. And it could actually be a better option if it's done right. So could you speak a little bit more to like, what does that mean, it could actually be a better option?Rachel Kois:
Yeah, absolutely. I was just actually looking at this, great question. Some of the, let's see, there's a great Voxer article that we can put in the show notes about it. But some of the stats on this was a 2013 study from MIT that essentially says like, online shopping is far more eco friendly, when we're looking at all the factors than brick and mortar shopping. So I love the community aspect and the touch and feel aspect and the local aspect of shopping brick and mortar and shopping, you know, here in person, we're actually opening a brick and mortar location here in Denver. So, you know, I'm not against in person shopping at all. But I do think that there has been this kind of demonization of online shopping as this enemy of sustainability, which actually, when we look at it scientifically, it's just not the case. So reasons for that, which I was actually surprised to hear that I kind of felt like okay, well, you know, we are going to make this online retailer. And it will be you know, we'll take our real competitor as someone like Amazon, right, like, that's who that's who we are trying to pull from, we're certainly not trying to like pull from your local businesses, that's like not the goal. Because a lot of times, especially here in Denver, a lot of the local businesses do have sustainability in mind and are taking actions to to do these things. But the kind of carbon footprint that goes into running a large space, so like, unless a brick and mortar is solar powered, and that kind of thing, then just the actual like keeping the lights on, which is sometimes thrown around as like a business term for, you know, those fixed expenses, but like that has quite a large environmental footprint. So I'm, for instance, doing this interview from my co working space office, which is solar powered. So that means that our company has essentially no carbon footprint, when it comes to the electricity that it takes to like actually run Simple Switch. That is an overgeneralization because I don't always work from this location. But the other thing is, it's really important to take into account that this is only true when you're not doing like one to two day shipping online. So Amazon's kind of rush shipping that they are doing that doesn't count for this being like more environmentally friendly and the reason is, you need to allow for efficiency and shipping routes and so you know, if you me and someone else from you know, our sustainability community bought something online and we all got it, you know, shipped to us in one day, then that's gonna have to be three tracks that are like for me to ask this quickly as they can. But if we're allowing for the more natural time and shipping and those things are going to be consolidated, and it will be instead kind of what about what's going to all three of us, right? So we do some education about that on our website, we don't, you know, we don't offer the one to two day shipping, we don't offer like the rush, like get get it to you here on an airplane, which is unfortunately, what sometimes that rush shipping means. And the other thing to keep in mind is that free shipping allows for it to be like one shipping method to a warehouse, that is a huge bulk order. And then each one is kind of a little order going out to you as opposed to a big free order, and then another shipping to the store, and then you drive into the store to go pick it up. So that's kind of where this stuff comes from. There are like a million factors that go into this. So what I am not trying to convince you to do is never shop in person again. But I do challenge you to if you're going to shop in person, go find a local sustainable vendor, hopefully someone who is sourcing locally because as we just talked about, that also makes the whole supply chain shorter and therefore more sustainable. Right. And also, if you're going to be shopping online, try to shop from retailers who not only have the products that you know are impactful like the ones we sell, but we're certainly not the only ones. But also things like we carbon offset all of our shipping. And so not only are we hopefully giving you a lower carbon footprint to begin with, and creating actually less than footprint, but we're also investing in carbon drawdown technologies and things all around the world that are going to have a more sustainable impact to offset any of the footprint that we do have. So yeah, I'm super pro shopping in person and align. Well, let me just take back that data. Because I mean, if you need to shop for something, right, one of our company values is "don't buy more, buy better." So what I'm not saying is now go out and shop galore, because really the most sustainable thing you can do is buy nothing, but I know you need things and I know you want things and oh no, no, your friends, you know deserve gifts and all those things that I think that's totally good and fine. If we do it right, if we're doing it from right vendors. And our whole goal is to make it easy to do that.Katie Kurpanek:
Yes, exactly thatRachel Kois:
I feel like I talked in a circle around that. But yeah, those are kind of the reasons online can be better, and how we want to do it.Katie Kurpanek:
No, I think that that's so great that you brought it full circle, because like, we need options like this. And sometimes we as consumers need to hear this cycle in our heads or like just repeated to us because we don't always know, at least for me speaking for myself, I wasn't always aware of this process that I was contributing to with my shopping habits before. And then I mean, even today, I'm still working on this, where sometimes it just takes a lot or a little of planning ahead before you make a purchase. And so you get stuck in a bind. When you realize you need something and you feel like you need it now. And so then Amazon can be a really easy go to because you're like, Okay, I am going to get this rushed shipping. Yet, as much as possible. It's something that I'm working on, like planning ahead when I know I'm going to need something and then figuring out where can I source it from where it's going to be like the most sustainable place that I could source that from, if I can wait a little bit like I'll purchase this online. If I feel like I need something quicker, it's like, Is this something I could find secondhand through like, you know, Facebook marketplace, or? Yeah, there's lots of options, but it really takes some thinking.Rachel Kois:
be flipped where it's like, okay, if you have some time and you can like do that planning ahead, or even we offer subscriptions so that you like don't need to do that planning ahead, right, we have to decide one time that this is how often I want it to come, you'll get notified about subscriptions for us, we are not trying to like trick you into accidentally buying something twice. But if it is in a hurry, I totally agree with you. That's when that's when you try to go buy it locally, right? It's like oh, I need it today. Let me go visit my local retailer, which I am guilty of often, which is hilarious, because I'm literally the owner and I know but Like recently I had a vacation and I was like waiting until we had which we do now have a swimsuit, you know company that was made from upcycled materials. And I was excited about that. But I put it off and put it off and put it off. And so finally I went and bought it from REI who does a great job sourcing sustainable products. But yeah, I think it's it's kind of like a little flip that we have to do in our head of like fast should mean you go there, right and slow can mean okay, I'll buy it online and like get something really intentional in that way. loud. But I do think that's like a helpful like rule of thumb, you know?Katie Kurpanek:
Yeah, no, it totally is. And then thinking about like, with a little bit of planning ahead, I mean, I do this, even when I'm going to the grocery store, it's just become a habit now where I know that I'm going to be looking for certain brands, because Okay, in my previous shopping habits, it was like, Well, this is the brand of, you know, food that I want to buy or drink that I want to buy just because I like it, or it tastes good. And now my mindset has shifted more to like, is this brand supporting something that I feel passionate about as well? Or, you know, whatever it is, is it the packaging that like, I feel like it's more sustainable now. So I will opt to buy this version rather than this version. So with all of the thought that you have put into simple switch, like, I mean, you've talked about your carbon footprint, and the way that you're offsetting that, or that, you know, consumers can do so as well with like the waiting for more efficient shipping. But how else are you prioritizing, like sustainability in all the different items that you sell on simple switch? Like, could you give some examples of that?Rachel Kois:
Yeah, absolutely. Before I do, I want to push back a little bit on that mindset that you said. So 100%, the best thing someone can do is exactly what you just said, right? Like be thinking about it while they're shopping. And kind of know, I'm looking for this kind of sustainability, this kind of social impact, hopefully both. But if someone's listening to this, and they're like, oh, Katie does that, and I should do that. And I should feel bad that I don't do that. Like, just stop that. I talk a lot about how shame is like not gonna make you make better choices. That is like, the reason we exist is so that people who haven't made that mindset shift can make one mindset shift, and it's to shop on Simple Switch. And then they can just be like, which one of these snacks do I like the best? And like, pick that from us. Right? Because truly, I think it's really, really, really realistic for us to shift the entire- Okay, that sounds huge, and it is huge. But I believe that I'm, I'm a stubborn idealist, right? Totally, that we can shift the whole economy, to genuinely be like, the shopping that you do is a force for good and like drives with things and just not drive exploitation and just not drive the climate crisis, right. But I don't think it's realistic for us to shift everyone to that mindset that you and I have, where we're like, looking for these brands, right? It's like, we can only shift it by creating the systems because like, Amazon exists, because a good system was created, like I applaud them for what they have built. It's super, you know, it's, it's very impressive. But we have to do the same thing. And like, follow it with that social and environmental impact in order to make that so it's not pushing me against you at all, I just want to make sure because I know it, I see it in people's eyes when I'll say things like that, that it's like, they have this like, oh, I should feel bad or someone will be like, I got this on Amazon. And then they're like, I'm sorry. And I'm like, Don't be sorry. Like, there is a reason that was marketed to you. And you bought it on Amazon for a reason. And that those are the reasons that we are using to make these, you know, that kind of thing. So anyways, just wanted to get on that soapbox.Katie Kurpanek:
Oh, yeah, no, I'm so glad that you did. Because it, it is something that is a constant work in progress for me. And even still being like, you know, five to seven years into this process. Like, I'm still working on that. And so it's it's hard to like, go back sometimes to that very, very beginner level where like, everything is so overwhelming. Yeah. And like you said, the systems around us are not designed to support this way of purchasing. So yeah, you have to do like what you're capable of at the time that you're in. And then like, as soon as it becomes more of a habit, that will get easier. But thenRachel Kois:
that's right, but knowing what's not going to make it a habit is the shame, right? If we actually just look at like human psychology, if we're like, ashamed about something, we're literally going to avoid the concept. And so that's gonna make this humor, which is interesting, because I think that's what I most primarily see, as a driver in this industry. And like, with companies like ours, what they're like trying to push. So that's been really interesting. And, and I certainly fell into that I actually think it's a, it's kind of a shift that we're making right now is making sure we're really camping on the- "This can be easy for you, you don't need to feel bad, like, let's just do it together." You know, like, and "if you don't do it, right, one time, that's fine. And if you do it, right, let's celebrate" you know, and like, that kind of thing. So I think your listeners likely will be more like you and I where this is kind of a bigger part of what we're thinking about on everyday basis, especially people who are listening to a podcast about how to be a conscious consumer, right? But I do want to push that like either the people listening or like if you're sharing this concept with friends who are like not at the same place that you are, that'd be my biggest thing is like, do your very best to like share it with them in a way that feels accessible. Like psychologically which sounds weird, right? It's like work, but it needs some shifts like we need. I was on a podcast recently that they're they say Talk Sustainability To Me and they're talking about like trying to make sustainability sexy and they said something about sustainability needs a new PR firm because it has turned it into this like very like Shamy like yucky like oh if I'm not perfect at First, right, but really, if we're going to have systems change and shift those $800 billion, instead of, you know, whatever small portion of that is owned right now by sustainable industry, then we actually really need to do it around everyone and not just around the people who we like can force or guilt or, or even educate into doing it because of everything they know, and everything. And I'm just very like, recently, I'm like, we just won't, we won't succeed that way. So anyways, no, what you asked was about the sustainability of our product. So yeah, I'll give a couple examples. So we don't have like a one, one thing that we do or don't do. So that's the first thing I'll say, when you go on our site, you'll see that you can shop by products, you can also shop by impact. And so some of those things will be like zero waste products, some of them will be like products that fight human trafficking, and those things might not overlap in much of their impact, or they might overlap in a ton of it, right, we might have zero waste product product that like also fights against human trafficking, those are just like two easy to conceptualize examples. But as far as sustainability, we ask companies to have their environmental footprint in mind with the way that they manufacture and the packaging and the shipping. So like I said, we offset our corporate footprint, but we're always encouraging our companies to and we call them impact partners. So from here on out, I'll say impact partners, but that just means our suppliers, the companies, we work with products that we sell, we're always encouraging them to take more steps in both social and environmental impact. So if we do have those two companies, one is really social focus. One is really sustainability focused, we do our best to like, introduce them, and they can help each other be, you know, more of both of those things, which has been really cool opportunity. So you know, we'll see companies change their packaging, or start donating a portion of profits to nonprofit that is doing great social work, things like that. Um, as far as some examples of specifically around the sustainability side, since that's what we're here to talk about, our very best seller is toilet paper, and it's like the easiest thing that you can switch on our site, because we can set it up as a subscription. So like, it'll come automatically, every, you know, few months, if you have questions about how often you should order it, let me know, because I have like, way too many statistics in my head about because everyone always is like, I don't know how often I use it. So I've done a lot of you know, researching on that based on like, what do you work from home? And like, Are you a girl or a boy? like, what you're what are your peeing and pooping habits? Like that's weird, but I know a lot about it. So feel free to reach out if you have questions. And that's one of the very easiest, because it's something that we all use unless you're using a bidet which, holla at bidets, but it is made from sustainably sourced bamboo. So stats around this are 27,000 trees a day, on average, are cut down just for toilet paper, which is wild. And those are like they can be like old growth trees. And they're not trees that are you know, grown quickly. So the first and foremost thing that's great about the toilet paper is that it's made from bamboo, which grows it's like the fastest growing plant in the world, I think especially of this type, and it is naturally grown. So which is also more sustainable for the growing but also better for your skin. So they're really passionate about making sure there's no toxins and things like that. So you're you know, they talk a lot about safety for kids and babies and making sure that we're not, it's like where you use toilet paper's pretty sensitive. So you want to make sure it's high quality and low toxin. They also are totally plastic free packaging. So that's a fun thing that a lot of our brands do is plastic free. Normally you'd get to the grocery store, you know, shrink wrapped, but this is wrapped in paper and then shipped in cardboard. They are also carbon balanced so they are offsetting any shipping. So actually carbon your shipping of their toilet paper should be carbon positive because we are both offsetting those things. That's a great example. Another good example is Let's see our coffee companies when that comes to mind they we have several coffee companies but this one's called Gold berry roasters, they package their coffee in commercially compostable packaging, which I love to see I have a home composter but also if you have access to compost pickup, that would be acceptable in there. They also on the social side, donate a portion of profits back to farmers to make sure that farmers are in control. There's like a nonprofit that they work with that is essentially I would say similar to a farmers union so that farmers can make sure that they are setting kind of the working conditions and prices and things so they say beyond Fairtrade because it's not only that they are paying for wages and those things, but that they are empowering farmers to really have a say in how that's done. Which sounds like a subtle difference, but I'm also really You cautious to work with brands who are doing things in kind of like a paternalistic or charity focused way where they're just like, oh, we like give back. And we're so good at giving back. And most of our brands, if not all, I would say all with like, you know, we just always want to remain cautious. And we always keep an eye on these things. But all of our brands are kind of locally led, if it's international impact, we're not seeing a lot of like, issues with colonialism and things like that. And they're making sure to have a true impact, not just a self congratulatory type of impact. Um, let's see is another good we have things like gloves that are compostable, single use gloves. And so we have quite a few products that are replacing single use plastic. So I thought of that one, because I'm currently at my office space that like gets cleaned often. So they buy our compostable gloves, so didn't put them in the compost, you know, using cleaners with lower toxins. So it's just like an all around great experience. Same with compost bags. So if you are composting in your kitchen, or if you're, you know, out of business and need like a giant compost bag, and so those I just have one in mind that I am not forgetting to just look on our site. So I should mention that we saw more than 4000 products. So these are like a few examples of like 1000s, right. And as I mentioned, we're always trying to help our brands, improve these things, and doing you know, brand education for them. So good example is that coffee company, they have an in person coffee shop, and now we are sourcing their packaging to make sure it's compostable and set them up with like a compost bin. Right. So those are some of the kind of the ways when I say we try to help our brands be even more sustainable than when we found them. Yeah, those are a couple examples. I mean, I can definitely keep going. But this could go on forever.Katie Kurpanek:
Oh, I know, like over 4000, that's so much. But I love these examples, just kind of like throwing them out there. And so listeners can hear like, Okay, so there's food and drink options. There's like household products, there's, you know, beauty accessories, like all the things. And then I meant to mention earlier to that, like even part of all that work that the you've put into building your company to shop by sustainable impact and ethical impact. It's like, I think my favorite feature about your site is that you can actually search like, if you want to search for a product, you can do that. If you want to search for like the impact that you're hoping to make with your purchase, you can do that. like exactly, your key searches, you know, that whole feature is really, really helpful and accessible to us.Rachel Kois:
Yeah, good. I'm so glad I totally agree. It's my favorite part too, I think it's really great to be able to find it. I love it. Because if you're like, oh shoot I, my pants ripped, I need a new pair of pants and you like can search pants, right? But if you are thinking like, I just got really fired up about human trafficking and labor exploitation, I wonder what I could do about that, then like, one of your answers might be buy pants. But you would never know that. So you can kind of come to our site. And like look at that, really, I'm fired up or if you're looking for something very soon, we will be able to do both at the same time. So you might search for pads, and then you can filter by I'm really passionate about this. I'm really passionate about that. Hopefully that'll be out in like the next couple of weeks. But it's something that we're just working on the futureKatie Kurpanek:
Ooh well maybe by the time this episode actually goes out. That's really exciting. Awesome. Yeah. Thank you for sharing all those examples. I think one more question that comes to my mind before I give you like my final final question would just be you mentioned earlier about shopping with certain certifications in mind. Labels, you talked about greenwashing. And that is something that like I'm constantly learning about and then working with clients as well. Like, how do you discern what's greenwashing? And what's truly making the difference that you want to see? So, um, could you share some examples of like, either some labels or certifications or things that, you know, listeners can hear to know that like, this is consciously aligned with their ethics?Rachel Kois:
Yeah. Yeah. So one thing I'll say before I like list these is that we do have certifications listed on our website. So if you're like, I don't know, I don't know which ones are like good or real. Like, I wouldn't put the certification on here if I like thought it was dumb. So if you forget these things, or whatever, even if you're not coming to like shop with us, if you're looking for these things somewhere consolidated, generally these are in this shot by impact tag. And then there's like certification tech, so just so you know, some that I love, okay, things to avoid first are anything that like sounds vague. So what I would challenge is anytime you hear word, you can just Google it. What does blank mean? Right. So And luckily, a lot of people on the internet are very shrewd and writing like very important pieces about this stuff. So for instance, what comes to mind is like, Earth conscious This is one that I hear a lot, right? I talk about conscious consumerism, even having a conscious lifestyle like meditating, like all sorts of things. Conscious itself is not a bad word at all. But if the only thing a brand has is something like, we're Earth conscious, or like people conscious or like, any, you know, just something that like sounds, it sounds nice, but it's like, I always give it like that little side eye. And so if you look, if you Google, what does Earth conscious mean? Likely, you're gonna see some, like, sassy writers being like Earth conscious means nothing, right? I don't know. I'm curious now to do it. But I'll wait until after we're done. So instead, what you might see is like, okay, climate neutral, is one of the certifications that we hold. We're a climate actually, we just got renewed, I think today, so that's fun. And just in time for Earth Month. But so we are climate neutral, certified. And if you Google, what does climate neutral mean? Or what does climate neutral certified mean? Which, if there's certified after it, that's going to be a really helpful thing for you to find the perfect information. It will say, if a company is Climate Neutral certified, that means they have measured their carbon footprint, they have made goals to and commitments to reduce that carbon footprint in the next year timeline. And they have offset the entirety of that carbon footprint. So it means that any any essentially negative stuff that we're putting out into the world, whether that be with packaging, or with shipping, those kinds of things we are paying to offset that same with another thing that we hold is plastic neutral. So same thing, any plastic that's created by us, we are paying to pull that same amount of plastic out of the waste stream for better reuse, things like that. A really good one, 1% for the planet, is one that I like and tend to look for, but is pretty purely financial. So this is an interesting distinction, also to think about is if they say something like we plant a tree with every purchase, you want to look like Who are they doing that with? My favorite thing to say is if there's going to be an awful company, or an awful company that plants a tree with every purchase, obviously, I want the awful company that plants a tree with every purchase. But we wouldn't allow that kind of company to sell on Simple Switch, because all it really means is maybe that they're like donating $1 per purchase. And it can be used as kind of a greenwashing tool or to kind of evade other actual sustainability for like, you know, actions. So 1% for the planet I, from what I have, you know, learned from the brands that we're looking at, is that it is a financial partnership. And that's how you get certification by donating. But 1% for the planet is great about engagement, and brand education and those kinds of things. So it is very rarely the only thing that the brand is doing. A lot of times it is an addition to the mission. One of my personal favorites is B Corp, because I know how hard it was to get that certification where B Corp certified it is huge, huge, huge list of questions they come in to ask for all sorts of all sorts of proof. B Corp doesn't necessarily mean something in particular is great about the company, but it means that they meet high standards across everything. So this is like how they treat their employees. This is like the environmental impact they have this is about the community that is affected by their supply chain. Like there's a lot of things you can find ours, you know, you can also go look at the score of someone on their B Corp certification to see like, are they thriving in sustainability? Are they thriving in, you know, governance, which would be those like, code of ethics and things like that? Um, yeah, anyways, those are like a few. But generally, I feel like asking, What does that mean is a great rule of thumb, so just Google it, what does this mean? And then you can always come to our website, you know, we have things like animal cruelty free made safe, certified, like those things, which is different than, like, natural or low toxin, which like don't have to mean anything, right? There's just not accountability there.Katie Kurpanek:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I love that. That tip of just starting with Google too, because like, you need to have something with specifics behind it. And if you can't find it, then it's it's gonna be just like a blanket statement that, like you said, really means nothing. So yeah, yeah. I love it. Hey, just wanted to jump in real quick to talk about Patreon. Patreon is an online platform that allows you to become a patron of the arts, so to speak, a financial supporter of the creators who enrich your life with their content. Thanks to the generous support of my patrons. starting as low as just $3 a month, I'm able to continue empowering individuals like yourself through these educational chats with various experts across the spectrum of sustainable living. As a patron of this podcast, you will have the privilege of joining the discussions with guest speakers via zoom and taking part in the exclusive q&a is with them too. If you can't make the actual interview live, that's okay. You'll have access to the full recorded episode early before anybody else gets a chance to hear it. You also receive the added bonus of personal shout outs in podcast episodes, and other behind the scenes content sent your way. Plus, you'll receive unique discounts to more than a dozen sustainable businesses that have partnered with me so that you can save money and the earth while you shop. If any of the content that I create adds value to your life, or the perks alone have piqued your interest, check out patreon.com/all Things sustainable to join our community and become a patron today. Thank you so much for your support of this journey to minimize our carbon footprint while maximizing our positive impact on this planet we call home. Okay, let's get back to our show. Okay, cool. Well, then Simple Switch is kind of like a one stop place to be able to go to that is like shopping and then looking for education as well. So I love it,Rachel Kois:
We have a podcast too. It's a little bit on pause right now. But you know, anything you're looking for, Hopefully we have it.Katie Kurpanek:
Oh, I didn't know that. Okay, I'm gonna have to check that out. Okay, so my last question then for you is just like a routine question that I asked every speaker who's on my podcast. Considering all of our listeners, like various levels of privilege, accessibility to resources, like their background, could you share, you know, just one or three tangible steps that listeners could take so that they can become a more conscious with actual meaning behind that word "conscious" consumer, like as soon as today?Rachel Kois:
Yeah, first of all, okay, so my like, very obvious thing is shopping on Simple Switch like, right, but let me like break down what that means. Because I don't mean like, go buy everything. Because what we're not, like we said, don't buy more, buy better, right. But wherever you are listening to this episode, like look around you, probably you're at home, if you're not, you're probably wearing clothes, if you're not, you can probably see a bathroom, like there's a lot of logistics around you and think of like one thing that you pay for already. So this is why like when you say you know, thinking about accessibility, or budget, that kind of thing, something that you are already buying, that you don't know where it came from, or anything about the ethics of the brand, or how you know how sustainable it is a great example is toilet paper, if you happen to be listening to this podcast, where you go to the bathroom, or like or tissues or people should have paper towels, like things like that. And then if you don't know the ethics, if you can't find the ethics, if you don't feel confident in an ethics, whether that be environmental or social, go on Simple Switch, see if we have an alternative, we won't always but we might. For those three I just mentioned we we do. But other things you might not know, you know, we have a lot of things, but we don't have everything, and then decide that next time you buy it, you're gonna get this this other brand. And my best thing is like, subscribe, like choose choose a time. It can be short, it can be long, it can be once a year that it's going to come to you but just make sure that will help you not forget to do it again. Right. And it doesn't have to be from Simple Switch. If you have another like favorite way to buy this thing. That's great. This is just like the solution I obviously am most comfortable with because I built it. But just thinking about and I mean one thing, I'm not like everything in your view switch it all. I'm like, let's start with one and then let's celebrate that. So that's my first thing. Super easy, truly like I mean, you can do it online on your phone will probably take you five minutes. Next, one of my favorite pieces of advice actually one of our brand ambassadors told me that she has a physical sign that she wrote next to her trash can that says, I wish I had like a cuter quippier way to say this I can't remember her exact wording, something along the lines of Where does what I buy and what I throw away intersect? So this is one of my favorite tools for things like upcycling, so if you are buying bread for instance from the grocery store often comes in like a plastic you know long bag bread bread bags. And if you also have a dog and you are buying poop bags to pick up your dog's poop that's a great example of like I'm throwing away these bread bags I am buying these bags let's stop doing both of those things and instead use the bread bags to pick up my dog's poop. Great so like that is my favorites especially for like budget and success are for accessibility and budget is like for you where do those things intersect and it should cost you even less right it should save you money all those things we would much rather you upcycle we do also sell dog bags on simple switch if you like want to get you know those compostable ones. But thinking that and then the last step is just start following creators you know whether that be Katie or that be on Simple Switch that can just help you. I would try to follow people you really enjoy not people who are, don't like force yourself to be watching or watching and reading all this content that's gonna make you feel really guilty or sad. Like I said, that's not going to help follow some hopeful, solutions driven people who talk about climate and sustainability so that that can just become more and more part If the way that you think, and even if you never take action from that, which I highly doubt, because I think the more you learn, the more you'll do. But like, don't go in with that expectation. Just be like, I'm curious, you know, like start with curiosity, I think is a is a important piece of advice that I like to get. So those are kind of my like, three. And I don't think any of them should take you more than five minutes.Katie Kurpanek:
No, not at all. Those are super simple to do. So I love that. I think that's a really great landing point. And I so appreciate your time and all the insights that you shared. And then just bringing it back to like that people focus in mind too, like, we're people first, we're just trying to do the best that we can and shame and that like toxic way of thinking is not going to help the problem at all. So thank you for bringing that to the forefront of our minds as well today.Rachel Kois:
For sure. Yeah, for sure. I mean, I want this like I said at the beginning, I'm passionate about sustainability. And another wonderful B Corp owner I know, her name's Lizzie, she does marketing. She said one of the campaigns we should do is like, is sustainability sustainable for you? And if it's not, then it's not actually sustainable, right? We want to create these like habits and systems and even moods that support you doing this long term. So I'm not looking to be like, You better buy from Simple Switch or you're the worst. Like, there's no part of me that's interested in that. It's not it's not valuable for me, it's not valuable for you. But if it is like Okay, switch one thing if it's the only thing you switch this year, that made a big impact, right, if you switch one thing a year, you're gonna have like a pretty different lifestyle moving forward.Katie Kurpanek:
100% Well, thank you so much. This has been so great. And I can't wait to talk to you again sometime in the future, hopefully more in person because the world is reopening. Thank you so much.Rachel Kois:
Yeah, thanks, Katie.Katie Kurpanek:
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