#57 Green Banana Paper: ’I learned everything I needed to know about running my business from YouTube’

This time, we’re with Matt Simpson, the man behind Green Banana Paper, a company developed purely as a way to give local employment to a demographic of island dwellers in Micronesia who would most likely have left for jobs in the city. Making wallets from banana trees, learn how this unique company’s process has been a labour of love for Matt, and a great example of alternative materials playing their role in building products of the future.


Show notes

So, Matt Simpson (below right) from Connecticut, arrives in Kosrae, Micronesia in 2008. He is a young volunteer teacher and picks up some work at one of the local high schools on the island.

He falls in love. With the people, with the island, with the work-life balance he encounters. Who wouldn’t? After work every day, he is merely a hop, skip and jump from the ocean where he spends hours surfing and lapping up the waves.

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When his teaching contract came to an end, Matt, understandably, was reluctant to leave.

His time on Kosrae had taught him many things, including the fact that very few businesses existed on the island. And hardly anything was exported out of Kosrae. His former students who had now left school were either unemployed, or had already shipped out to find work in the US, most probably on minimum wage.

Matt decided to do something about it. And Green Banana Paper was born.

A bit lost in high school, Matt originally went into teaching because he felt an urge to help kids who, much like him, needed a helping hand to tread their own path in life.

Taking that philosophy into his business, he has built a business NOT to serve his own interests as a budding entrepreneur, but to satisfy and serve the needs of his team of workers and the Kosrae community in which his business sits.

As he explains to me during our conversation this week, Matt had absolutely no previous experience doing what his company now does. He learned everything from Google and YouTube. 

As his latest Kickstarter campaign came to an end last week, Matt’s business is ready and rearing to go. Yes, it has taken a good few years to get to this point. But Matt’s story is one of passion, belief and creating a business for the good of the many, rather than just the few.

Enjoy.

 
 
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Episode #32 - Adaptavate: Creating healthy buildings with a new set of lungs

Show notes

Now, the construction sector has it's problems, certainly when it comes to the negative impact it can have on our dear planet.

In the UK, the energy from fossil fuels used to build and run buildings accounts for about half of our carbon dioxide emissions. Half of that pollution comes from domestic properties and half from commercial buildings, like offices, schools, leisure centres and hotels.

And there is a direct correlation between non-green buildings and climate change. Unsurprisingly, 98 per cent of the world’s megacities – many of which are jam-packed with inefficient properties – are already experiencing climate risks, such as flooding and dramatic weather events. If developers continue to create buildings in the way that they have done for decades, the planet is heading for a 6°C of global warming. That is certainly the view of the World Green Building Council, which has been looking into these things.

And to stick to within a 2°C rise in average global temperatures – a target most scientists believe is our best chance of avoiding catastrophe – the buildings sector will have to reduce 84 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050 – the equivalent of eliminating 22,000 coal-fired power plants.

It is only when you start looking at the individual facets that make up our built environment that you begin to realise just how big a task lies ahead.

Our subject this week is plasterboard. Of course, it is only a small part of the larger constituent, but improving the performance of this ubiquitous material that can be found in properties everywhere could make a big difference. That’s certainly the view of our guest this week. Tom Robinson is the founder of Adaptavate, a company that has created a bio-composite alternative to traditional plaster and plasterboard, giving buildings everywhere a new set of lungs, as he puts it.

Enjoy the show.

You can find out more about Tom and the Adaptavate team on their website.

Tom Robinson, founder of Adaptavate

Tom Robinson, founder of Adaptavate

Tom has won many awards and plaudits for his Breathaboard product

Tom has won many awards and plaudits for his Breathaboard product

The Breathaboard up close

The Breathaboard up close


This week's news round up with Vikki Knowles featured:

- Management Today's piece on whether it is right governments are naming and shaming non-compliance
- The edie.net Premier League sustainability quiz
- Rio's environmental Olympic legacy
- Waitrose's new pasta packaging