By Simon Haslam
We The Many on the surface are a maker of healthy, delicious cereals, but looking further they are not only a carbon neutral business but an innovator in a business model that intends to exponentially support and increase positive climate action.
They start with the products themselves which have specific health properties – the range of breakfast cereals that they created have some unique benefits. Some specific health properties arise from: beetroot used as an energising element and antioxidant; turmeric for recovery and its anti-inflammatory effects; and prebiotic green banana starch for gut health. Founder Will Brook (of Brookfarm) reveals that, ‘In the product development beetroot was the most surprising to me, there are scientific studies showing that it increases muscle endurance during exercise, it really has some unexpected benefits.’ He explains, ‘We are ultimately looking to sustain the planet, and the people on it in the healthiest possible way’.
We The Many integrate business and sustainability – the entire range of their products is carbon neutral. They achieve this by their choice of suppliers, buying local, having solar-powered facilities, offsetting the carbon created in the manufacturing processes and their prevailing sustainable practices.
As well as their own independent environmental operations, We The Many are investing 50 per cent of their profits into projects that also specifically work towards reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. However, instead of making one-off donations to environmental causes, they invest in carbon reduction projects with businesses that will make further profits, which can then be re-invested in similar businesses. By integrating business and sustainability together in this way, the very foundation of the enterprise creates a positive cycle that increasingly supports sustainability and the potential for positive environmental impact can keep growing.
We The Many hope that their ground-breaking model will be used as an example of what other businesses and individuals can adopt to make a very profound and effective positive change for the environment. Brook explains, ‘there is nothing wrong with merely donating to carbon-reducing projects, but under our model the continued profits being increasingly invested in sustainable businesses, is designed as a self-sustaining project’. Examples of suitable profit-generating projects are carbon farming, conversion of conventional farming to regenerative farming, and new technology.
We The Many have already made their first investment of profits, which has been in green bonds, owing to the transparency of the underlying investments funded by the bonds. The parameters for their investments are quite rigorous and must include good business choices, reducing atmospheric carbon and they must be ethical.
Ultimately, for Brook it’s about growing the affirmative model. ‘We want people to be responsible, not to export that responsibility to government. We want people to stand up and make an impact, not just with what they buy on the supermarket shelves, but in their investments too. We’d like to pull people along with us, any business that is investing, if we pulled everyone’s money together and the criteria for investment was that it must be sustainable, the impact would be incredible’, he says. As well, returns from sustainable investment compare well to the tiny returns from traditional, what Brook calls ‘incumbent’, assets.
Even if you are not a business you can contribute to helping the planet in an easy way with the choice of breakfast cereal you make. We The Many launched only this year and their delicious products are now more available locally, including the Byron Supa IGA, and they are now offering free shipping during lockdown online. For more information contact us at wethemany.com.au.