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Nelson's Green Collective raids the pantry for a kinder business model (STUFF NEWS ARTICLE)

Nelson's Green Collective raids the pantry for a kinder business model

MARTIN DE RUYTER
Emma Saunders of The Green Collective is working to support other small businesses disrupted by coronavirus.

A Nelson social enterprise owner is using lockdown to help other small businesses and promote green ways of living. 

Emma Saunders, of The Green Collective, has made products for an eco-friendly lifestyle since 2014 under the motto "reduce, reuse and recycle". 

Among the social enterprise's products are reusable polyester/spandex bags that stretch to hold a large amount of produce and spruce dishcloths. The dishcloths supports local artists by using their artwork.

Like many business owners, the Coronavirus level four lockdown measures have affected Saunders' work.

A majority of The Green Collective's 200 stockists have ceased working due to their non-essential status.

Running a small business from home has enabled Saunders to avoid staff lay-offs, however she was acutely aware others were not as fortunate, she said.

Emma Saunders of The Green Collective with her companies Spruce, an eco friendly dishcloth.
MARTIN DE RUYTER
Emma Saunders of The Green Collective with her companies Spruce, an eco friendly dishcloth.

As a result, Saunders has looked at creative ways of adjusting her business model, shifting towards what could be done for the community.

"I sat down and thought 'What is NZ and Nelson going to look like on the other side of this? Are we going to be able to pop down to our local cafe? Or will the businesses that you loved before even be there?

"I'm not really looking at sales right now.

"So it's more about how can I switch to look at fellow businesses and sharing tips and clever ideas that they are coming up with - more about being a voice.

"If you've got staff and leases, or maybe you've grown a lot in the last year, then you're going to be in a position where there will be a lot more stress on seeing yourself through this."

Saunders said the Covid-19 lockdown presents a great opportunity to reassess household waste, particularly with using those forgotten items in the pantry.  .
MARTIN DE RUYTER
Saunders said the Covid-19 lockdown presents a great opportunity to reassess household waste, particularly with using those forgotten items in the pantry. .

Using her skills and contacts, as well as The Green collective's own product lines, Saunders hoped to provide links to essential information to help people keep sustainable at home.

She is using her social media accounts to share green tips and to promote other small enterprises to help their raise profile.

"If I can get the word out for those businesses - through simply sharing posts, or support through my own networks, then I'll do what I can."

Sustainability has always been a significant part of Saunders' work and life ethic.

She said the current situation provided a good opportunity for people to reflect on how much they actually needed to get by, be it the amount of clothing they own or through revisiting priorities.

"We can live with relative ease on a lot less than maybe we thought and some of our daily habits that we thought would be really hard to change have changed and it's not actually been that hard."

She said the lockdown also offered a chance to utilise overlooked and forgotten items in the fridge or pantry, reducing waste and looking for opportunities and getting creative with recipes.

"Even if something is really old, like lentils or beans, you can still resurrect them ... and there's some nice information around on how to do that.

"It's looking at potential food waste and going 'Can we whip up another dinner with this?', instead of sending it out to the bin or the chickens."

As well as changing her business model for The Green Collective, Saunders has also adapted to the new normal of exercise with her Modified Pilates business. 

Previously run from a location within Nelson city, Saunders is currently conducting online sessions from home, accompanied by her children.