Saving people and planet starts at breakfast - by Marjolein Baghuis

"We are both the flood and the ark. No one but us will destroy the planet, and no one except us will save it." Powerful words from Jonathan Safran Foer's book We are the weather, saving the planet begins at breakfast. As humanity is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, I wonder: can we save people and save the planet at the same time?

Never waste a good crisis

The word crisis stems from the Greek word krinein: "to separate, decide, judge." And while we may not always be able to determine the outcome of a crisis, our decisions in a crisis reveal who we are. We show our true selves by figuring out what we're capable of letting go of. This applies to climate change as well as the current pandemic. Recognition of what's really important helps us to keep trying. To not give up after the first attempt to eat less/no meat or to not rebel after the first week of lockdown. The trouble is, that while decision-makers excellently frame what's at stake during the COVID-19 pandemic, they don't consistently do this for the looming climate crisis.

Structure for collective action

Just three months ago, who would have thought that large parts of the world could be locked up? People are sticking to the measures because the daily reporting of deaths makes us all feel fragile. And because governments make clear what's expected of them. (Of course, this is grossly overgeneralizing the reality, but I think you see what I mean.) While we all had high hopes that the Paris Climate Agreement would lead to collective to halt climate change, the truth is that instead, we're lagging behind these commitments, collectively. In some countries, NGOs have even successfully sued the national government for not taking enough action against climate change.

Let's hope governments learn from the current crisis to prepare effective measures to halt climate change. To frame the urgency and to invest in what's needed, rather than what's the easiest course of action to secure reelection in the short term. Helping citizens make better decisions for people and planet.

Options for individual action

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Of course, none of us have to wait for collective action plans and government measures. In Safran Foer's book, he lists four actions everyone can take to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint:

  1. Switch to a plant-based diet;
  2. Avoid air-travel;
  3. Get rid of your car;
  4. Have fewer kids.

What sets the first action apart from the rest of this list is that what you choose to eat is a decision you take many times, every day. The author's plea is for everyone to stick to vegan food for breakfast and lunch, at the very least. He admits finding it a challenge at times. Yet in the end, it's better for the environment to be an inconsistent vegan, than to only eat vegan or vegetarian food every once in a while.

When I heard him talk about this at the book launch in Amsterdam, I was quite surprised that he was cutting himself and his readers this much slack. But I must admit that I too find it hard to keep vegan during lunch, even though I have been a vegetarian for over 20 years. But I'm sure I've cut my animal protein footprint - and hence my greenhouse gas emissions since I started trying!

Accelerating the protein revolution

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The pandemic adds another dimension to the discussion about animal-based protein and the need for a protein revolution. Animal welfare, climate change, and individual health problems were already part of the debate, but it now becomes painfully clear that our collective health, our society, and the economy are at stake as well. Pandemics are often caused by diseases that spread from animals to humans.

So as we build back a better world post-COVID-19, let's include a move towards more plant-based protein. Let's create a new normal where we no longer spend taxpayers' money to support livestock farming. Greenpeace research estimates that, up to now, nearly a fifth of the EU's budget goes to livestock farming. If instead, that money is directed at more future-proof ventures, we'd be better off in many ways. The European Green Deal added "From Farm to Fork" in May 2020. It strives to create a healthy food environment that makes it easier to choose healthy and sustainable food options. The current pandemic makes the need for positive change even more clear.

What positive change are you driving?

I’ve been meaning to write this blog since Jonathan Safran Foer was in Amsterdam to launch the book in September 2019. By the time I’d finished reading the book, I felt the corona-environment would not be the best time to blog about climate change and protein.

Until one of my favorite columnists, Ionica Smeets, linked the pandemic to Eating Animals, one of his earlier books. That helped kickstart me into blogging mode again, with the new normal providing all kinds of topics to blog about for positive change! What kind of change are you hoping for - or better yet driving - off the back of this crisis? How can you connect saving people and planet for positive change?

This blog first appeared on Photo credits: Anna ShvetsElla OlssonNoelle Otto

Ready to scale-up? Do you have Category Leadership potential?

Having a social start-up means you want to change the world. Your product or service has the potential to create positive change for many. But to have real impact you need to scale-up.

How do you know if your brand is ready for the next step? That is an interesting question. Luckily The Terrace has developed a tool to assess the health of your social brand and it makes clear what you need to do to reach your goal.

A fundamental aspect you need to look at is the so called ‘’Power in the mind’’ of your brand. We have identified two critical checks to see if you are able to get a positive and prominent position in your market.

How single minded is your story?

To get your proposition across you need an extremely clear and simple story. Too many startups lose traction when their fundamental story becomes blurry. A simple but highly effective test is to check if your message can come from one type of personality.

Likewise, a defined corporate culture and a simple and clearly communicated strategy is necessary. You will be amazed by the high rotation of employees at social enterprises. Many times, this is due to unsatisfied employees, having different expectations of the brand and the company. They are disappointed that it was not clear enough how they could help the brand to have more impact.

Important questions you can ask yourself are: How focused is the brand story and sales pitch? How clear are the company values?

Do you have Category Leadership potential?

  • Most social enterprises are too polite. To have impact, you need to shoot for the stars. You must claim some sort of category leadership and act on it.
  • We loved it when Urgenda was the first social enterprise ever to sue the state. It was bold, it was right, and it was a 100% on brand. The same for the bid of VANDEBRON on the Hemkade.
  • Having a clear definition of your category is mandatory. A short cut to get attention is to point out the deadlock in the development of your category and show what you are doing about it.
  • Two important questions you can ask yourself: How many real category leadership actions have been executed? How fit is the company leadership to climb on the stage?

Keep an eye on our website and soon you’ll learn more about how to assess if you’re ready to scale-up! 

Dopper, on the verge of taking over the world: 'the bottle with a message'

If you haven’t heard of Dopper yet, you’ve probably stayed indoors with the doors and windows shut and the wifi disconnected. Dopper is the 'the bottle with a message': the recycled plastic water bottle that you can drink from without any form of guilt. This fun company is striving for some serious changes such as the ban of single-use plastic, clean drinking water for everybody and environmental awareness for a better future. That sounds like some big, hairy and audacious goal! 

After attending our Brave Brands Positioning Workshop and learning more about defining purpose and finding your brand's identity, the Dopper team called us for help. The organisation is in a huge transition and ready to take the leap to the next level. In the next couple of years Dopper will be entering new markets in several continents across the globe, with a particular focus on Germany. They wanted to be ready and feel 100% confident about Dopper’s brand positioning. For this the team needed to redefine their purpose and define who they are as a brand, and also, what they are not. 

New purpose. New power.

Together with the international team we created their new purpose. One that matches the dream of the founding fatherMerijn Everaarty and the Dopper change makers behind the brand. The challenge was to have focus and to not to be afraid of leaving important stuff out. After a few sessions with the team they noticed that by having focus, they gained a lot of clarity for their organisation. Everything seemed to come together. 

"Dopper wants to live in a world where we celebrate crystal clear waters." 

We created this new purpose to show the real reason behind the team’s motivation. Dopper  was found because of the frustration of our disposable lifestyle and the plastic waste that pollutes our beautiful waters. Dopper is striving for
as our drinking water and the oceans should be. The new purpose also shows the Dopper heart: it’s strong-willed but happy and cheerful, inspiring others to join and live the life we want to live: clean, healthy and happy.


Who is the messenger? 

After defining the purpose we’ve now embarked on an adventurous journey to find the brand personality. After a few sessions + the application of the Brave Brands Model, we’ve hit the jackpot! I cant disclose more info at the moment but you’ll find out soon ;)

Interested to learn more about the Brave Brands Model or how to find your brand’s purpose and identity? Please give us a call! We’d be happy to tell you more about it. 

Bioplastics: when innovation empowers abundance, La Coppa

Plastics are indispensable to our daily lives. They come in every colour and shape, light, strong, resistant, tremendously useful for every person and industry. Plastics have come to stay.

The vast majority of plastics are oil-based. Around 4% of the oil that the world uses every year goes into producing plastics. Their composition has been both its strength and its weakness. The challenges of climate change and fossil fuel scarcity are putting the plastics industry under pressure. In addition, the ever-growing and widespread plastic waste problem is no longer possible to ignore.

In this setting, bioplastics are a great alternative allowing both for high-quality performance and widespread use while having a reduced environmental impact.

Bioplastics are totally or partly made from biomass (plants), mostly corn, sugarcane or cellulose plant fibers. Although there are several varieties of bioplastics, only a few are fully made of renewable, natural resources. The 100% plant-based plastics are the only variety that at the end of their useful life will decompose into water, carbon and compost (i.e. are compostable/ biodegradable). Ideally, the decomposition will take place at an industrial facility and will be catalysed by fungi, bacteria and enzymes, leaving no toxic particles or harmful substances behind.

New materials such as PLA, PHA or starch-based materials create truly bio-compostable packaging solutions.

Closing the loop on plastics

Advanced Technology Innovations, a company that provides innovative packaging solutions for food and beverages, developed a system for coffee cups made of plant-based plastics (PLA), namely produced from the residue of sugarcane and sugar beet.

One of our clients, LaCoppa coffee adopted this innovation showing their leadership in sustainable packaging in the consumer goods industry.

The fully compostable coffee capsule can be used in espresso machines, proving that it is possible to replace petroleum-based and aluminium coffee capsules with a fully functional, more sustainable alternative that should be widely adopted.


Others leading the change

Many industries are already using bioplastics. Not only traditional industries, such as food packaging but also automotive, electronics and textiles. Several leading brands, such as Tetra Pak, Ecover and Danone are investing in new bioplastics solutions. Unexpected partnerships are also arising: Heinz approached Ford about possible uses for its tomato waste. Ford was already using bioplastics based on soy and coconut for its auto components, carpeting and seat fabrics; why not explore the use of ketchup bi-products to develop a more sustainable bioplastic material? Specifically, it is expected that this new bioplastic could be used in wiring brackets and material for onboard vehicle storage bins.

Work in progress

While great opportunities and fast growth await bioplastics, this is a work in progress.

For bioplastics to become a truly sustainable alternative both the industry and governments need to make technical adjustments to the current waste streams to allow for an adequate treatment of bioplastics. Otherwise these will end up in the landfill.

Engagement with the final consumer is also crucial to promote education on bioplastics and recycling. Consumers should avoid contaminating plastic waste recycling with bioplastics, as it will compromise the plastic recycling process.

Finally, in order to gain widespread support, the bioplastics industry should increasingly use food waste residues (from pineapple fibers to shrimp shells), non-food crops or cellulosic biomass, leading to decreased land-use demand by the industry. Innovative alternatives are endless.

The future of plastics

Biodegradable bioplastics are a growing niche market. According to European Bioplastics, the global bioplastics production capacity is set to grow 300% by 2018. This growth will lead to a new generation of plastics, where abundance of plastics is powered by innovation. Oh, and it is sustainable!

Planned obsolescence and a 3D printed solution

Here at The Terrace, we are dreamers, we are thinkers and we work hard for positive change. The process from idea to detailed action plan has many phases. Some start on a small bench in the park, others with a nice phone call or after an interesting meeting. But all projects have a moment where we gather in out meeting room for a joint brainstorm session. We have our notebooks, our critical remarks, we laugh, have intense discussion and we vividly visualize everything on our NOBO© Flip chart. Till the day came when the connection part between the writing board and undercarriage broke.

Without this small piece, the flip chart became more or less useless. If we wouldn’t be The Terrace we would put the remaining parts outside, next to the garbage for the Tuesday evening pick-up, buy a €200,- new one and happily go on with our lives. But we are The Terrace and also for in-house challenges we seek circular solutions. This is not a grand story how we saved the world, but it’s the story of how we repaired our loved flip chart.

We don’t give you life-challenging answers, but at least we hope to inspire you to see your office equipment in a different way and think again, before you throw it away. And maybe, during the process, we can raise awareness that the production of office equipment, and production in general could shift to a more sustainable and circular model.

And so our journey begins…

Fien started with the main office suppliers in the Netherlands; Manutan, Staples and Viking. They did not deliver the part we needed without the whole flip chart. We tried the repair service, mentioned on the NOBO© website. They only repaired their beamers. In the mean time we had also contacted the NOBO© Europe customer service. When their reply finally came it was a ‘not deliverable’. This was simply not acceptable. In a time where sustainability and resource scarcity are high on the agenda we couldn’t just throw away the old and buy the new, because simply one part, nevertheless essential, was missing? I shared my worries with the customer service and after ten emails and fifteen days they send a request to the factory in China to send a spare part.

We still did not have my connection part. Bummer. I also hadn’t sit still. Meanwhile I contacted 3D Hubs if they could maybe ‘print’ me a new part for my flip chart. Unfortunately I didn’t have a STL. file (which you need to print 3D), but they linked me to a company, Van Alles Wat Ontwerp, who could design the STL.file of my connection part and print it. So with a hopeful hart I send the broken part to Van Alles Wat Ontwerp.

Nobo2 Nobo3 

A week later we received, neatly and well fabricated our missing link of the NOBO© Flip chart. Now happily in use again.

But this keeps you wondering, doesn’t it? How can something so simple, be so complicated? Why don't companies repair services or spare parts? Most products have planned obsolescence, which means that they are designed to break down after a certain period. This cannot be the right way forward. We strongly believe that in rethinking your client journey, you tap into new business opportunities while lowering the stuff we needlessly throw out. WIN-WIN!

If you also have a broken connection part of the NOBO© Piranha Flip chart, please feel free to contact us for the STL.file, we love to share!

Feeling the fixing vibes? Here are some options for help:

Van Alles Wat Ontwerp – design & 3D printing
3D Hubs – 3D printing
Repair Cafe – Repair (almost) everything

Want to know more about planned obsolescence? This is an interesting item on ‘made to break’ by Economische Zaken from the VARA: (In Dutch)

Brand Purpose Model: what is the most beautiful thing you can do with your brand?

As a marketer your goal is to win fans and keep them. You do that by making a difference. And by showing what moves you. What you stand for. But what is the best way to get to the core of your brand?

Brand positioning models

Brand positioning models come in many different forms, from the brand diamond, the brand propeller, to the brand sun, etc. All magnificent one-page models that try to cover the essence of a brand. The truth about the brand, meant to be brief and guide colleagues and external contacts. Most are inspired by the brand key: the model developed by the Unilever Marketing Academy to consistently manage their brands internationally. Just one A4, containing all important information in nine clear bullet points. As a marketing strategist I see them in many shapes and forms: from boring Word documents to inspiring works of art. Accurately defining your brand is no easy task. It requires many decisions. Those decisions together define the strength of the brand.

Marketers and brand managers recognize the need for choosing a cutting edge position in the market. Who is the brand, for which target group are you always the best choice, and of course a razor sharp consumer insight. We can’t live without it.

Stand for something as a brand

If you ask me, the brand key is hopelessly worn out. In times like these, where what used to be rattles, we need the courage to let go of the old and embrace the new. The brand key is not sufficient anymore because it doesn’t take into account the world around the brand. Both the internal organization as well as the external stakeholders need to receive adequate attention. Next to the functional and emotional advantages consumers increasingly expect “like-mindedness”. Choosing for a brand that shares their values. A brand that doesn’t just stand for something, but also cares about something! And I’m not talking about a briefing that was sent to the advertising agency ordering to “come up with an authentic campaign”.

I believe that brands should decide on how they can improve and enrich people’s lives. How they can expose and contribute to social issues. Current position models fall short in addressing this.

We need an inspirational model that helps marketers to proudly carry their profession and helps companies to create true value. Brands have the power to encourage people to make better, healthier and more sustainable choices every day. Brands can help to redefine our vision on quality of life. Brands can guide us, by hitting the sustainable route. Brands can enthusiasm people for this route. They can trigger positive change in the behavior of people.

The Terrace’s ‘Brand Purpose Model’

As a warm-up we start with the question: “what is the most beautiful thing you can do with your brand?” Bam! It provides food for thought and breaks with the laws of conventional marketing mechanisms. This is your chance to think something about something, to be opinioned. Stand for something. And that is exactly what customers expect from you. That’s how you create preference.

The “Brand Purpose Model” by The Terrace offers companies a holistic view on their business to sharply define the purpose. In that process the marketer doesn’t just need his or her own team, but also colleagues from PR/PA, Sales & CSR are needed. Of course having the general director at the table is highly desirable. Without connecting these different disciplines, no shared “purpose” will arise in the organization. Any social activity will just be a little something on the side. Your customers will see right through it.

How it works

We work from the outside-in. Based on insights and needs from different angles we determine the business value and the social impact that fits the brand. The target group and competitors follow next.

Of course you have to know who you’re up against in the market. However, successful brands create a cooperative environment. Take for example cooperation in the supply chain; for marketers, the transition from a linear to a circular economy means that your products will come from two sides, from you and to you. That’s not something a company can manage on its own. Cooperation is crucially important. This includes your target group, who has become more conscious and can arrange more things themselves. Granting others something is the key.

Everyone knows it, character can’t be copied. Why do so few brands of today show what they really stand for? A strong brand purpose provides focus for successful collaboration and innovation.

What does your brand stand for?

Leontine Gast

Reducing food waste: beautiful work for ugly fruit and veggies

The world loses or wastes one-quarter to one-third of all food produced for human consumption according to the estimates of the FAO and World Resources Institute. However it’s not only a waste of food. There are nearly one billion malnourished people in the world that would no longer be hungry with the 40% million tonnes of food waste by US households, retailers, and food services each year.

Besides we didn’t even mention the irrigation water to grow food at 200 litres per person per day that is wasted, the 10% of developed countries greenhouse gas emissions coming from food that is never eaten, or the occupied land currently used to grow unnecessary surplus and wasted food.

All this could be avoided on less than a quarter of the food that is wasted in the US, UK and Europe. A great number comes from stores discarding produce that doesn’t fit the standards of food beauty. But the third biggest supermarket in France, Intermarché, came up with a bright idea on how to get people to buy, and actually look for those ‘ugly’ fruits and veggies.

A few months ago they’ve launched their campaign called “les fruits et légumes moches”, or in English, the inglorious fruits and vegetables. We love this campaign, its beautifully designed ads, great PR, and the impressing results. Check out the video below for the full explanation, and let us know what you think.