Listen to this episode to hear about Alya Annabi’s journey on how she created a sustainable community to meet like-minded people and transformed her knowledge into a business.
Tackling climate change starts with changing individual actions. In this episode, Alya Annabi, founder of GreenPush, shared how starting a neighbourhood WhatsApp group on recycling and reusing, was the push she needed to see how communities can influence views and actions. We learn why she started the community and how her business has evolved over the last year.
Listen to this episode of the Good Business podcast now.
In this conversation we learnt…
– How Alya started with building communities and why they are important (02:16- 07:29)
– That she starts not with the intention of changing minds but asking questions and having conversations to raise curiosity and awareness while encouraging reflection and action (07:53- 16:00)
– How mentorship changed the way she approached her business (24:03 – 27:18)
– How to become a conscious consumer and question greenwashing. (38:48 – 46:56)
“95% of what we do is completely unconscious. So that’s why I believe in the power of communities because we are influenced by what other people do.” (15:00)
Changing behaviour requires a lot of effort and work. So that’s why, when Alya began her sustainability journey, she wished to be surrounded by people doing good and taking action, so that she herself was motivated to make change. She saw this phenomenon explicitly with her first community group – creating a neighbourhood whatsapp chat to reduce waste ultimately ended up with 3500 things being reused or recycled rather than thrown. And when the whole group joins in, people are encouraged to participate – be it donating a sofa or just sharing extra brownies!
“They’re asking me all these questions, I wouldn’t have taken the time to do this. And then I guess I wouldn’t have created these programs, I wouldn’t have refocused myself.” (25:09)
As an action-oriented person, it was easy for Alya to get pulled into all these different directions and interests. She mentions, having a mentor, who is able to pull back her focus and ask her the hard questions has helped her not only find her vision but also streamline her actions towards them. Questions such as “What are the next steps? What do you want to do? What is it that you want to achieve? What’s your mission?” have helped Alya develop and grow GreenPush.
“Because for me, at the end of the day, one more action plus one more action plus one more action equals really big change.” (35:00)
This super simple but effective line encapsulates Alya’s thinking. For her, combating climate change is not just about blaming one sector of society or expecting governments to do all the work, but rather ensuring everyone pitches in. For example, the IPCC report said that if as individuals we change our lifestyles, we could reduce greenhouse gases emissions from 40 to 70% by 2050! As no one solution works for everyone, try to make it fun and exciting for yourself.
“72% of people feel that climate change is an emergency.” (36:25)
A recent study from Deloitte found this statistic. And yes, it is good to be worried but that isn’t enough. Alya believes that we should transform that worry into something, specifically small steps, that we can incorporate into our life. Because, after all, we’re all living on the same planet, like no one’s, I guess, is a inhabitant of Mars yet! Plus – there are some great apps that she recommended to help you start making these changes. For example – Susgain and One Small Step and Olio.
Sustainable living Apps:
– One Small Step
– UpCircle App
– Waking up with Sam Harris (meditation app)
– Live Wide Awake with Steph Dickson
– In Power (French Podcast)
– Atomic Habits by James Clear
Chris Edwards (01:54)
Hey, Alya, welcome to the show. I’m so happy to have you here.
Alya Annabi (01:58)
Thank you. Thank you, Chris.
Chris Edwards (02:00)
I feel like we’re in for a real treat today. I mean, we started our relationship by me stalking you on LinkedIn. And I’ve just loved what GreenPush is and what you’re doing. Let’s start there. Can you just share what is GreenPush?
Alya Annabi (02:16)
Yes, sure. Thank you. So GreenPush has been created, actually, this year, we are here to inspire, educate, engage the next generation of sustainability champions. So basically, we’re just helping companies create their own Green Communities, because I definitely believe in the power of communities. And when you bring people together, they can definitely be the driver of good sustainable change.
Chris Edwards (02:39)
And creating communities is kind of your special gift, I believe. And once you joined the Launchpad community, we had other members say, “Oh, my God, yes, she saved us during COVID”. So can you share with us what are the communities have you created? And what’s your experience in building communities?
Alya Annabi (02:58)
Yeah, sure. So actually, I ended up doing it out of frustration, because when I changed neighbourhoods in Singapore, it was in 2020. With COVID, I arrived in this new super nice neighbourhood. And I, when I would go down to the bins, I would just see this amount of trash, just people dumping things that definitely shouldn’t be there. Like I would find, I don’t know, beautiful carpets, golf bags, microwaves, I mean, yoga mats. For me, it was not supposed to be in the bin area. So that’s where I thought, okay, how can I make my neighbours donate, instead of just trashing and putting this in the bins. So I was like, Okay, I’m a new neighbour. So let’s create a WhatsApp group. And put these people together. And then at least they will have a space where they can donate instead of going downstairs. So we’ll just go climbing floor by floor and knock on my neighbour’s doors, and then just tell them, Okay, there’s this new community. And that’s why we exist, we are here, you know, to reduce the amount of waste and it’s so much easier for you to snap a picture instead of just going down the bin and then throwing this away. Because for me to drive change, you have to remove the friction, right? Like if you want to have a change, but it’s difficult for people, or it’s like they will, they won’t do it. So to really change that you need to remove as much barriers as possible. And that’s what I did. So it was much easier for them to just post a picture. And yeah, so we started with 20 people, and then word of mouth was there. So now we are more than 130 people in this community. And we have saved and rescued and borrowed and shared more than 3500 items. So yeah, pretty cool.
Chris Edwards (04:45)
That’s really cool. And it’s great that you’ve been able to track that and actually really measure the impact you’ve had, because that’s also a big secret to how to feel good about creating change. And yeah, having impact really is tracking it. But yeah, tell me that you’ve created a number of communities, so tell me about that community in Bali.
Alya Annabi (05:04)
When I arrived in Bali, at the beginning of this year, I really wanted to connect with other, you know, sustainability minded people, but I couldn’t find any I couldn’t find any group. And I was like, I’m sure there are people who are as passionate as me. So you know, let’s just also create a group. So actually, on my way to Bali, I already created the group called sustaina-Bali-ty. So you can hear the word under play of words. And I just posted on Facebook, on some communities, existing communities. And I was really, really amazed by how people were like, so thrilled to join this Whatsapp group because you could feel that it didn’t exist. And I was so happy to meet with other people who were also doing amazing things. And I was just amazed by it was honestly like three or four days after I arrived in Bali, people started introducing themselves. We organised a dinner where there were like 16 people around the table and everyone was sharing about what they created, what NGO they were working with, people creating eco resorts and doing so many amazing projects and I’m like wow, that’s so beautiful. And now like a few months later, I’m so happy to hear stories. Oh, and yeah, they’re so sustaina-Bali-ty I connected with this person and now we are collaborating on this project. So it’s just for me that’s why we need communities. We need to connect people because one when you do amazing things, but you’re on your own, then you know it’s you can do so much more when you are with other people and you can drive so much bigger action.
Chris Edwards (06:35)
You’re quite a change maker. And I wonder how you created this? Or become this person who likes to encourage and foster change? Is this something that you had as a child? Or is this something that has come from your passion? How have you become a change maker?
Alya Annabi (06:55)
I’ve never thought of myself as a changemaker. I mean, I’ve just thought of myself as a person of action, you know, I like doing things, right. But for me, when I arrived in Singapore a few years ago, it was just this shock of the amount of plastic I could see. It was just like, because I did my studies in France. And there was a single use plastic ban in supermarkets. And so I wouldn’t, you know, it wouldn’t be around me. And then I arrived in Singapore, and it was just like, you know, you go to the supermarket, you buy a few products, and it’s like one plastic bag, almost per product. And woah, there’s so much packaging, just why you know, what’s the reason behind? So that’s where I started doing my own little research, how I can, you know, reduce my own waste impact. And then I just came across so many perfect environmentalists, on the internet doing, you know, okay, amazing things, they are all this zero waste, people having such a little amount of trash. And then honestly, it grew me some kind of big frustration because I felt like, oh, how come I cannot be like that, and also fell into the trap of, oh, if I want to be zero waste, then I need to have this and this item in my life. So it kind of pushed me into consuming more where I actually didn’t really need so I didn’t really question my needs, at that time. And then after why, like I felt really like, you know, anxious, and then lonely my journey, because I will see change happening obviously cannot happen overnight.
Chris Edwards (08:23)
And did you ever have challenges where you came across people that were very set in their ways or had very preconceived notions? You know, was there anything shocking about the lack of awareness when he started to start with these knowledge sessions?
Alya Annabi (08:39)
Yeah, so I mean, I haven’t really had big challenges, because my approach has always been a very positive approach to a topic like showing to people that as individuals, they can do, they cannot do everything, but they can at least do something. And that’s something that for me, if they one thing is, for me, that’s already a big win. And at the end of the day, I’ve always had this approach where I’m like, I’m not here to convince you. I’m here to make you think that’s all. So I think that when you take this angle, it’s much easier because of course, you’re going to come across people who either don’t want to change or they don’t understand why or they really don’t care.
Alya Annabi (09:25)
So like, I will give you an example. For example, in Singapore at the beginning, I was really amazed by how cheap the food was in hawker centres. Oh, my God, I can have a chicken rice for $4. That’s so cool. Like, it’s so cheap. And now, of course, now I don’t, I had one time a conversation of understanding what was behind that chicken that was so cheap. So for me, instead of saying, you know, you shouldn’t eat meat, don’t eat meat is bad. Maybe you can just say, have you ever wondered why your chicken is so cheap? And then the person will be like, No, not really. Okay. Yeah. And then I can explain a little bit further, or have you ever wondered why when you buy your top fast fashion brand, it was only like $10 or less? Yeah, no, I like it’s cheap but no, I don’t know why it is so cheap, and then you can just bring up the topic. And then you kind of open their eyes on this.
Chris Edwards (10:20)
So yeah, and it’s a journey, right? Like, it’s a gradual journey of awakening and discovery. And, you know, once you do start to question, then you get hungry for more information. And there’s so much I suppose, great content out there. But I think that’s a really beautiful approach to be like, I just want people to think because yeah, I suppose the the challenge we have is people aren’t aren’t really thinking
Alya Annabi (10:47)
Yeah definitely, at the end of the day, there is no way one solution fits all. So I feel like when you hear people saying, Oh, you shouldn’t fly, it’s so bad or you shouldn’t do this.
Alya Annabi (10:57)
Yes, of course, there’s so many things we shouldn’t do, but at the end of the day, humans are just, you know, we are creators that do things unconsciously, like 95%, of what we do is completely unconscious. So that’s why I believe in the power of communities because we are influenced by what other people do. So that’s why we, if you surround yourself with people doing good and better action, that’s where you will feel entitled to kind of follow the group and also do better.
Chris Edwards (11:24)
And just switching gears, I’d love to talk a bit more about GreenPush as a business. I think it’s a really needed product. And you know, that’s one of the reasons you’re coming into honeycombers next week to talk to our team. And I’m excited by what you’re creating. And just the fact that if we can awaken corporations and employees as a whole, and get the people to be more conscious and think more about them. With the $4 Chicken Rice and the $5 shirt, how much impact it will have. But tell me, where are you at in the GreenPush journey? How long ago? Did you start GreenPush? And what are you doing day to day to build the business?
Alya Annabi (12:05)
Thank you for this question. So I created GreenPush, actually in April this year. So when I started, I was just as I mentioned, a very action person. So I went into action mode, not even thinking once about why I was doing this. I just wanted to keep on spreading the knowledge. So I think, as you mentioned, you know, it’s also a journey. And it’s for me at the beginning, you just started by wanting to kind of spread the knowledge as much as I could. Everyone businesses,
Alya Annabi (12:40)
People like going B2C, going B2B. Just going everywhere, and doing all of it by myself. And it took me honestly, months to understand that you cannot first – you need to rely on people, if you don’t have the competencies. And as much passion as you can have, you need to also have a strategy or plan. So what helped me is that I got into a program organised by WWF: Green is the new black, we got this. And it started with the sustainability boot camp. And then they kind of give you some kind of mentorship for about six months. So I had a mentor, following me every month. So then that’s when I started having discussions with her. And at some point in September, she was like, oh, yeah, you’re going everywhere, going all over the place, and you’re wasting your energy, you’re definitely going nowhere at the end of the day. So just choose a direction and stick to it, choose the first step. And actually, that’s what I’m bringing my
Alya Annabi (13:40)
in the talks that I’m giving the awareness talk is that I’m asking people to take the first step, because you know, when you start your own green journey, and you’re when you’re wanting to better and implement some actions, it has to start with one action, it has to start with one thing. So that’s where I started to be focusing on energy in October. So it’s actually quite recent. And I was like, I was also feeling frustration inside me because I was thinking, you know, I’m giving all these talks, and then, okay, it’s cool, people are engaged and happy. But at the end of it when it ends, like, Do people really do things? Do they really implement something like, I would like this, this data, I would like this, this follow up in a way. So that’s where I started interviewing quite a lot of people working in companies, being part of the green community, being sustainability managers, and just trying to understand their challenges. And then two things actually came out. The first one is that there’s a lack of knowledge and education in companies. So definitely, there’s a lack of awareness amongst employees. And the second thing is it’s really hard to drive behaviour change. Three – how to change attitudes. And that’s why I was like, okay, it hit me because I’m like, wow, like by creating communities, you can you can really see how actually behaviours are changing, you know, when you of course, he thinks it takes time, but then conversely, mindset can be changed when you put people together. So that’s where it clicked because I saw also the advantages of having Green Communities and companies by talking to people who were part of a green team or who created one, and I could see, honestly the amazing things that they would do, just because they had the opportunity and the space to do it as employees as individuals who wanted to do more, but to be successful in that, you also have to start small.
Chris Edwards (15:33)
Yeah, I love that. So you’re kind of creating micro communities within organisations to make the action easier to take.
Alya Annabi (15:42)
Chris Edwards (15:43)
It’s phenomenal how you have used communities, in what’s kept you sane as a way to take action in your neighbourhood, as well as in your business as how to make action become more easier for you, for your clients.
Alya Annabi (16:00)
Yeah, and also in my own journey. Because, you know, for example, I had a chat recently with one of one of my participants, and she told me, you know, Alya, like, I started doing so many things over the past few months. And honestly, it was like, a lot she has done so much. And I was so proud to see that. And at the end of the day, I’m like, you know, she’s just one person. And she’s not connected with other individuals within her ecosystem within her company, who are also as passionate as her. So I just feel like we are losing at the end these people. Because as I mentioned, at the beginning, I was on my own. And even though I was doing a lot of things, I couldn’t see this, I needed to be connected with other like minded people, I needed to go to these events and connect and have this conversation to see that oh, wow. Like, it’s actually I’m on this journey, and other people’s sharing the same journey. And it really, really pushed me into going forward.
Chris Edwards (16:58)
Yeah, that’s very cool. Like you get motivation from being surrounded by cheerleaders and other people with the shared values and visions that make a lot of sense.
Chris Edwards (17:33)
I want to just go back to what you talked about with your mentor, how important has that been to get you on the right track? And he’s still working with a mentor now?
Alya Annabi (17:42)
Yes, so the program is running until December. Next week, there’s graduation, and we’re having a session once a month. And the relationship with my mentor has been honestly amazing since the beginning. She has, you know, challenged me enough when asked me to write questions, and then she really was, you know, because of her experience and she’s an entrepreneur herself. She could really see the mistakes I was doing and I was kind of really wasting my energy which was also like a waste of time. And that’s where she kind of her role was so important because she asked me the right questions, and then made me really think. Like in September where she was like, Alya, that’s it stop.
Alya Annabi (18:27)
Choose a direction, tell me why you’re choosing this direction. What will you do? And it’s really like, of course, I went into a down moment because I was like, What am I doing? But she pushed me into more thinking, because I’m such an action person. If I didn’t have someone who really liked to take me and I don’t know, shake my brain into, you know, I think now, what are the next steps? What do you want to do? What is it that you want to achieve? What’s your mission? They’re asking me all these questions, I wouldn’t have taken the time to do this. And then I guess I wouldn’t have created these programs, I wouldn’t have refocused myself. So I think at any stage of any journey, it’s so important to connect with someone who has also a bit more experienced than you. And you can either, whether it’s a coach or a mentor, just having that person who helps you reflect on what you’re doing, take a pause, and then take time to think instead of being just into action, action action as as we can be when we start a business. I mean, I guess you really understand that, Chris?
Chris Edwards (19:31)
Yeah, yeah. And look, you know, I think we’re soul sisters. You know, one of my biggest flaws, I think, is that I’m very action orientated as well. And, look, it’s a great, it’s a great,
Chris Edwards (19:42)
Trait to have when you’re starting your own business, because if you’re, if you’re not driven to action, then you know, there’s, there’s always so much to do. And there’s like, yeah, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. And usually, it’s at the beginning, it’s all up to you. So action definitely is a great personality trait to be an action oriented person. But yeah, I think having someone to bounce the ideas off and sense check the strategy is just so so valuable, and I am so glad you have a mentor, I think it does help you enormously just to, I suppose, get clear on what success looks like. And I want to ask what goals? Have you got a goal for the next 12 months? Like what’s your, what’s your goal for the year ahead?
Alya Annabi (20:29)
That’s a good question. I’m not really like a goal person. Like, who sets goals and objectives? But I guess it’s just to have as much impact as possible by creating as many communities as possible. So yeah, I mean, it’s that would be the biggest the biggest thing for me
Alya Annabi (20:50)
I have so many ideas right? It’s just just surrounding myself with the right people and because my also the program with my mentor will end in December so I want to find another person who can help me maybe with the Launchpad community, I don’t know but it just
I haven’t really set any goals but I guess it’s just keep on being in the action mode and, and help drive the change in as many businesses as possible.
Chris Edwards (21:19)
Yeah, yeah. It’s a fantastic goal. And tell me when you create these communities within organisations, does GreenPush support the communities or check in with them you know, like, what’s the relationship so I understand your business comes in and gives presentations and makes people think and really awakens the masses which is phenomenal. And then creates the smaller green community within the company and then there’s GreenPush, help that community to to hit milestones or you know, is there accountability there?
Alya Annabi (21:54)
Yes, that’s the whole point of the tree program is over, actually three to six months depending on the company and the support they want to have but I guess that you need some time to have the company do another liquidity take off. And the tree program includes some of course some checking the creation of the social group, some monthly check ins as well like in meetings where they can share about their challenges but also what worked and what didn’t work so yeah, it’s also can be definitely personalised based on the culture of the company. But I guess it’s really important when a community doesn’t really have like a leader it’s important to have that’s where GreenPush can come in and be that you know, push to really make people do things because it’s nice to have ideas and but then we can all be doubted by work and then not really had time, but if you have someone be like, okay, you know, in a few weeks we have a meeting together. What’s going to be your action plan? How do you want to implement that action within maybe your team or the office? So it’s really that accountability by having either these check-ins or monthly meetings? I guess it’s really important. Some companies already appointed like
Alya Annabi (23:09)
their own like a champion network that already pointed out like a leader. So I think when there’s that, it’s definitely fine. Because it just for any community, you should have at least one person who’s, you know, being the lead of that committee is so important to set a direction.
Chris Edwards (23:26)
Yeah, totally. Okay, that sounds fantastic. And I think that accountability, and that check in is really required to keep everyone focused, and what kind of metrics? Do you encourage businesses to track? What, you know, once you’ve got the tree program happening? What are you asking companies that they should measure?
Alya Annabi (23:47)
I’m not asking them anything. I think I mean, definitely companies need metrics for, you know, because they usually build some sustainability reports at the end of the year. And I think there’s amazing apps like Susgain, who can help achieve that. And we gather some data. So I don’t have any technology with me to help gather some data. So I think that’s where existing apps come in to help track this data that are really important for so the scope tree of their sustainability report. But I guess, as you know, with the group that, for example, that I created on WhatsApp, I didn’t need like any, let’s say real technology, WhatsApp helped me track this, because I know the number of people, I know the number of events that have been organized with the neighborhood, I know the amount of items that have been shared or borrowed, because you know, they give you that. So I think it’s just, yeah, maybe it would tap into existing communities. But it also depends on the needs of your company and what they want to see.
Chris Edwards (24:49)
And what are some of those apps that you recommend people download and take a look at?
Alya Annabi (24:53)
So there’s quite a few, I mean, the main one, for sure, is Susgain. I have been following the project since day one, I’m such a big fan. And it has everything in it. I mean, as a person who starts her own journey, or even for a company, because it also helped organise like, oh, this sustainability challenges. And it’s super gamified people get points for doing good actions. And I think it’s so important to have this kind of reward also. So definitely sustain and it has everything in it from, you know, events, to points, where Singapore, like where you can refill your water bottle, some conscious brands as well, they have such a lot of partners. So it’s quite a cool app. I know that in Australia, there’s also one similar app called One Small Step. I don’t know if you’re using it.
Chris Edwards (25:41)
No, I haven’t heard of it. I should check it out.
Alya Annabi (25:44)
Yeah, so this one is also available in Australia. That’s also one of the AppCode Olio. This one, I love it, I have been using it a lot also to donate some items. There’s Carousell if you want to buy secondhand or sell some items or find some gems there. It’s it’s really cool platform. There’s Upcircle App in Singapore as well, where you can donate items to people who are looking, for example, to reuse some large glass jars for some art projects, things like that. So instead of going to waste or to the recycling bin, you can just donate to people who are looking for these items.
Chris Edwards (26:21)
Yeah, that is quite a lot. And I’m going to make sure that we’ve got all the links in the show notes for anyone who’s listening who’s interested to check it out. So I’ve got a couple more questions, and then we’ll go into some rapid fire questions. But I wanted to ask you, obviously, there’s a wave of change. happening, which is awesome to see. But, you know, I often have this conversation with friends. And I’m interested to hear what your view is. On where do you see, really, I suppose the change is coming from? Do you see it coming from corporations or from the government or from individuals in terms of the change we need to see for the planet?
Alya Annabi (27:00)
That’s a really good question. So for me, these three, let’s say, I don’t know, I don’t want to call it category. But let’s say businesses, governments and individuals have to work hand in hand. So today, I feel like they’re like, you know, governments say that individuals should do something. Individuals say that companies should do something companies say that the government should do something. So you have this kind of vicious cycle, when actually it has to work hand in hand, because we are all moving towards the same direction. We’re all living on the same planet, like no one’s, I guess, is a inhabitant of Mars yet. So I guess we all have to just work together for a better, better world for tomorrow, that’s for sure. So for me, it’s not like as an individual, I should say that companies should do something over government. I think that we all should do at least something
Alya Annabi (27:58)
And actually, we can see so many results when, you know, as of course, as a company, you have, yes, you have the objectives of the company, what the company produces and how the company can produce also an impact. So this should change, but you also need to drive the change inside the company, and you need to embarg your employees, because, you know, sometimes companies have 1000s of people working for them. And then you can see, sometimes it’s frustrating for me, because I’ve seen sustainability reports, oh, we have done that, we have reduced this and this. And then when you see the paragraph for employees, they’re like, oh, for the 12,000 MPs that we have, we have encouraged them to switch up the light for Earth Hour this year. And you’re like, what that’s it? Like, cannot be 12,000 people and asking them to turn off the light for one hour. That’s nothing. So yeah, that’s why that’s why I think we should all definitely do something. And as individuals, it can even start today. Just start with one action, join a community, have conversations with people and try to learn something online. You know, there’s so many things that we can do. Because for me, at the end of the day, once more action plus once more action plus once more action equals really big change.
Chris Edwards (29:12)
I love that. I love that it’s a very simple formula, isn’t it? And tell me, where do you think will be in the next 10 to 15 years when it comes to this climate challenge?
Alya Annabi (29:22)
I hope we’re going to be in a better place than today, for sure. And we I hope, I mean, it’s just the hope that that more and more people will actually take action and not just keep worried about climate change. Because today, I think I read recently that 72% of people, it was this study from Deloitte, that says that 72 people feel that climate change is an emergency. Okay, it’s good to feel this way. But you also need to take action as well. So it’s good to be worried. But I think we should all transform that worry into something into just some steps that we can do to really reduce our impact. And actually, it’s quite powerful what we can do as individuals in the latest, not the latest. I saw on the I mean, I didn’t read the report. But in the IPCC report, it said that if as individuals, we change our lifestyles, we could reduce greenhouse gases emissions from 40 to 70% by 2050. That’s quite a lot. So this is just to show you how individual actions matter. And it has to start with small actions, because as you mentioned, it’s a journey. Change cannot happen overnight. No one’s perfect. And we need to accept that, I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect. No one’s and I think there is no one solution fits all, that’s for sure. But we should do things that are fun and bring us excitement. And with that we feel good about and there’s so many things that you can do. There’s some great apps to help you such Susgain, there’s just so many things that so many communities that exist so many learning also online. So I think it’s just at the end of the day, we should all do something about it. So we can look back in 10 years and say, you know, other other otherwise, either we will say at least we tried. You know, or, we will be like okay, one, but one or the other. We did something?
Chris Edwards (31:23)
Yeah, yes. We can at least feel proud of our actions. Do you have any advice on how consumers and employees can really determine if an organisation is greenwashing? Because that’s one thing that’s happening a lot, right?
Alya Annabi (31:37)
Yeah, yeah, I think it’s definitely a big topic. So I actually had talked about it two days ago during good talk on the fast fashion-impact and what we can do to reduce our own like fashion impact, and greenwashing, especially for fashion brands. It’s something where you know, like, your brain is kind of playing with words to create some kind of vagueness, and make you think that you know, with some green paint on whether it’s their campaigns, or just using these colours, or the spirits that have no your legal meaning like eco friendly, sustainability, sustainable, conscious collection, things like that. They make you think that you know, it’s good to buy their products. But if you take the example of a big fashion brand, at the end of the day, if you look at the capsule collection or consumer conscious collection made from recycled fibres, for example, or sustainable fabrics, it’s just a small small part of their big production overall. So at the end of the day, if a brand is mass producing, it cannot be sustainable or be called the sustainable brand. It has to come down to reducing the production overall because that’s the problem that we have
Alya Annabi (32:49)
Today we overproduced and we over-consume. And it’s about finding the balance. Like, do you need that much clothes? Do you need that much stuff? You know, technically you don’t really need, but they make you want this, like, for example, you go to an H&M store and they will be like, Oh, just put your clothes into our recycling bins. Okay, fine. Oh, thank you so much. This is a 10% off voucher. So you can buy even more clothes? So this is just, this should be raised as a question as a consumer, why would they encourage me to recycle and then they push me into buying more?
Alya Annabi (32:26)
You know, just ask yourself questions like this. And then you will feel okay, I think this is greenwashing for sure. And then what you can do is just dig a little bit deeper on the internet, and then you will find things like, oh, wow, out of all the items that are putting H&M bins, for example, actually 60% end up being resold in Africa, in African countries. And, you know, and out of these ends up in landfill, or 35% of this close actually ended up being used by power plants to be burned to be transformed into energy.
Alya Annabi (33:59)
And you’re like, Okay, now I know, this is definitely greenwashing. And this is definitely a lie. So I think it’s about also being mindful of the messages that we see. So it’s not because the brand has some green colours, or uses super fancy words that it’s true. So just do your own research as consumers, there’s so many great websites, and you have Google, you have internet on that. And also, even without the internet, just try to keep in mind that kind of critical mindset like, okay, just as with the example of H&M, why did they give me a voucher, like, they want me to consume more? Okay, no, I don’t want that. Let’s see if there’s another way for me to donate my clothes. So I think just having these questions in mind, too. Yeah, to avoid these tracks.
Chris Edwards (34:51)
Yeah, yeah. It’s all it’s, it’s about just thinking about it a little more deeply, isn’t it? I read the other day that, really, you should only be buying about three pieces of clothing a year, because that’s probably all you wear out. And I was like, that’s really good. I like that number. Because that really helps me think, you know, well, if I buy more than that, when why, you know, like, it’s Yeah, so it is really interesting. You know, I feel like that H&M example, a really good example where obviously, they’re trying to get you back into the store. Right. So it’s not actually helping the environment at all. If you’re just buying more.
Chris Edwards (35:26)
Okay, so let’s jump into some rapid fire questions. I really don’t want this interview to end. I feel like I could talk to you for hours. But I know I can’t. But it’s been delightful. So do you have any business advice or mantras that you leave by?
Alya Annabi (35:42)
Yeah, actually, it’s funny that you asked this question yesterday, I read one, and I think I should, I will stick by it. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
Alya Annabi (35:52)
Yeah and when I think about an objective in mind, so like me with the neighbourhood group, for example, I just had that objective. And I just found a way to make it work. And I think there’s always a way to make something work.
Chris Edwards (36:05)
Oh, I love that one. I love that one. And I definitely use that one myself. Okay, how do you cope with stress? Do you have any self care routines or practices that you could share with us?
Alya Annabi (36:16)
Yes, I meditate every morning with an app called Wake Up by waking up with Sam Harris. And actually I discovered it in podcasts with Stephanie Dixon from Green is the new black – thank you so much. And actually this art is very good. I also do when I can, I try every now and then some 10 minutes, you know, stretching in the morning so it’s really because I’m not really a morning person. So it helps me just be in good shape to start my day. And yeah, and just be in nature. I guess when it feels so overwhelming. Just having a walk or looking at trees is just something that definitely helps.
Chris Edwards (36:56)
That’s awesome. I like that. Now luck favors the open mind or fortune favors the bold?
Alya Annabi (37:04)
Fortune favors the bold for sure.
Chris Edwards (37:07)
Okay. We always ask our guests this. I feel like we’ve spoken a lot about this today. But what does community mean for you and your business?
Alya Annabi (37:14)
It just means bringing people together, having conversation and inspiring action.
Chris Edwards (37:22)
Beautiful. What does Good Business mean to you?
Alya Annabi (37:25)
A business that respects the planet, the people and animals. That’s a big one.
Chris Edwards (37:32)
It is a big one. Have you got a favorite business book or podcast that you’d like to share with us?
Alya Annabi (37:38)
Yes, there’s the podcast from Stephanie Dixon called Live Wide Awake, it’s quite cool podcast. Okay, there’s one that I like to listen to. But it’s in French, I don’t know if I can recommend it. But it’s called “in power”. And it’s about taking the power of your life. So if there’s some French speaking people in the audience, and for book, there’s quite many. But that’s what I’m reading at the moment that I quite love is called Atomic Habits. And it’s about how to, you know, build better habits. So it can be anything in your life, with sometechniques that he shares in the book. And quite really, I mean, I feel they are quite powerful. Because at the end of the day, when you want to change, it’s okay, you can join committees, you can have conversations and everything. But when you take action, it’s about also making these actions last, and these better actions. Because we all have individuals on a daily basis. So how do you keep these better actions as an insurance for them as habits. So definitely, this book should be a read for everyone.
Chris Edwards (38:42)
Yeah, I love I love James clear. And I’ll add to that he’s great to follow on LinkedIn, and Instagram. I love his content. And one of his quotes that really speaks to me is 1% Better every day, you know, it’s so simple. And yeah, anyway, James, because a great one. So we believe a rising tide floats all boats. Do you have any entrepreneurs that we should invite onto this podcast?
Alya Annabi (39:09)
Yes! Definitely my friend, Carolyn from Susgain. She’s amazing. So passionate, and she has created such an amazing, not only up but movement, and she’s doing so many amazing things. And I think she could definitely be a guest here.
Chris Edwards (39:28)
Wonderful. Well, thank you so much. That was just such a wonderful conversation. And I’m just so happy that we’re in the same orbit now. And I’m really, really looking forward to seeing how your business grows and the impact that you’re going to have in Singapore and beyond. And yeah, I think you know, your mission is just so needed. And yeah, it’s so aligned to what the world and Singapore needs in particular right now. So yeah, I’m really excited. And thank you so much for your time and explaining, yeah, where you are and what you’re doing, and it really is very inspirational. So thank you very much.
Alya Annabi (40:11)
Thank you, Chris. Thank you so much. Bye.