November 6, 2016. Originally published in the Pique by Nicola Jones.
Shopping for Solutions
Nicole Rycroft’s talk offered some advice on how to push innovation forwards. “Behavioural change is a really difficult thing,” she said, asking how many people in the audience had never broken a New Year’s Resolution (I saw one hand up; its owner shrugged as if to apologize for his success, or for making others look bad). Rycroft realized that shifting the selling practices of a few corporate heads would be an easier task than shifting the buying habits of billions of people.
So Rycroft, a self-described Australian tree hugger, founded the Vancouver-based Canopy initiative, to help provide motivation for companies to shift to environmentally-friendly suppliers. Her brilliant strategy was to approach Rainforest Books, the Canadian publisher of the Harry Potter series. “I had to keep calling,” she laughs when recounting the story. “I started to feel like a telemarketer.” But eventually she convinced them to commit to printing on greener paper.
There weren’t any supplies of “Ancient-Forest-Friendly” paper suitable for book printing at the time. Rycroft’s genius was to use the massive Harry Potter book contract as a lure to persuade paper mills to develop them. Dozens of new eco-friendly papers were produced as a result, Rycroft says. Although it was more expensive for Rainforest Books to go with new, environmentally friendly paper, it was made worthwhile by economies of scale and all the positive publicity. “It transformed the global supply chain,” says Rycroft.
Since 2013, Canopy has been using similar strategies to get endangered forests out of the fashion business. About 120 million trees are logged each year for fabrics like rayon, says Rycroft, and about a third of them are sourced from ancient or endangered forests. In May of this year, Canopy announced they had a deal with more than 65 major chains — from H&M to Lululemon to Simons — to get those trees out of any rayon products they sell by 2017.
Read the rest of the story here.