Fresh Leaf Forever

Driving Change: Eco-friendly Ethos in Business & Life

August 22, 2023 Vai Kumar interviews August Vega Season 3 Episode 7
Driving Change: Eco-friendly Ethos in Business & Life
Fresh Leaf Forever
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Fresh Leaf Forever
Driving Change: Eco-friendly Ethos in Business & Life
Aug 22, 2023 Season 3 Episode 7
Vai Kumar interviews August Vega

Did you know that by prioritizing sustainability, companies can increase their positive impact on society? 
Meet our guest August Vega, a clean tech proponent, creator and  former CEO of MALK Organics. 
Her enlightening journey, which spans from sustainability to the consumer packaged goods (CPG) scene and further, is nothing short of inspiring. 

August's journey began with her work in water and energy efficiency and grid management. From there, she transitioned into the consumer packaged goods industry, where she founded Malk Organics. 
She shares her experiences and challenges, and we specifically shed light on the difficulties associated with creating sustainable packaging for any emerging brand. 
It's an all encompassing conversation that underscores how prioritizing sustainability and making eco-conscious choices can collectively drive change- for businesses, people and the planet.


Focus areas from this chat:

- Brand building and need for eco friendly ethos

- Sustainable initiatives in the CPG space

- Increasing a Company's Positive Impact on Society

- Education and Solutions for Climate Crisis

- Creating affordable, sustainable lifestyle and collective action thereof( from brands, retailers, consumers)

- Power Dynamics and Women in Leadership

- Taking on capital and implications, challenges

As we dive deeper, August offers valuable insights on how consumer action and simple, yet impactful, initiatives can revolutionize the industry for the better. 

We discuss solutions like clean eating as an act of contributing to the well-being of our planet. Our guest passionately advocates for reducing our reliance on factory-formed animal products, plastic, and offers other major takeaways.

Listen in for an undoubtedly worthwhile conversation on the intersection of sustainability, business, and personal choices. Make this your go-to podcast for matters of real world significance.

Send us a Text Message.

Enjoy PIOR Living products
Enjoy PIOR Living products at a 20% discount and free shipping on orders over $75 Code FLF20

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Did you know that by prioritizing sustainability, companies can increase their positive impact on society? 
Meet our guest August Vega, a clean tech proponent, creator and  former CEO of MALK Organics. 
Her enlightening journey, which spans from sustainability to the consumer packaged goods (CPG) scene and further, is nothing short of inspiring. 

August's journey began with her work in water and energy efficiency and grid management. From there, she transitioned into the consumer packaged goods industry, where she founded Malk Organics. 
She shares her experiences and challenges, and we specifically shed light on the difficulties associated with creating sustainable packaging for any emerging brand. 
It's an all encompassing conversation that underscores how prioritizing sustainability and making eco-conscious choices can collectively drive change- for businesses, people and the planet.


Focus areas from this chat:

- Brand building and need for eco friendly ethos

- Sustainable initiatives in the CPG space

- Increasing a Company's Positive Impact on Society

- Education and Solutions for Climate Crisis

- Creating affordable, sustainable lifestyle and collective action thereof( from brands, retailers, consumers)

- Power Dynamics and Women in Leadership

- Taking on capital and implications, challenges

As we dive deeper, August offers valuable insights on how consumer action and simple, yet impactful, initiatives can revolutionize the industry for the better. 

We discuss solutions like clean eating as an act of contributing to the well-being of our planet. Our guest passionately advocates for reducing our reliance on factory-formed animal products, plastic, and offers other major takeaways.

Listen in for an undoubtedly worthwhile conversation on the intersection of sustainability, business, and personal choices. Make this your go-to podcast for matters of real world significance.

Send us a Text Message.

Enjoy PIOR Living products
Enjoy PIOR Living products at a 20% discount and free shipping on orders over $75 Code FLF20

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the Show.

Videos available on YouTube channel.
Follow host Vai on socials - Instagram , YouTube, LinkedIn for thought leadership content.
Head to my website for enlightening blogs & service offerings.
This podcast comes to you from Listen Ponder Change LLC, founded by Vai Kumar.
Every support the show contribution is much appreciated !!
Subscribe https://www.buzzsprout.com/1436179/support and help us amplify our voice and reach!

August Vega:

Welcome to Freshleaf Forever, a podcast that gives you fascinating insights week after week. Here's your host, Vaikumar.

Vai Kumar:

Hey folks, Welcome to another episode on podcast Freshleaf Forever. Today I have here with us August Vega. She's a C-level strategy advisor, clean tech proponent, creator and former CEO of Malk Organics. She believes in applying strategic thinking to creating solutions and is a huge proponent of sustainability. And we are here today to talk about all things sustainability, and she's very passionate about that and is a huge proponent of pledging to work and feels for betterment of planet Earth. I should say hey, August, Welcome to the podcast. How are you today? Thank you so much.

August Vega:

I'm doing very well. It's a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you for having me.

Vai Kumar:

Likewise, and like I said, you were the creator and former CEO of Malk Organics, so your role in CPG that's like quite pronounced. So why don't we get started there with your role in CPG and how you have established yourself in brand building?

August Vega:

Sure, well, kind of going back to before my role in CPG, I always worked in sustainability for the most part of my career, in water and energy efficiency and grid management. I learned about carbon offsets back in the early 2000s when really no one even knew what that meant, and so really that was the foundation of my career. I made a switch in late 2013 to CPG number one, because I've always just been a brand's person.

Vai Kumar:

I pay a lot of attention to what's on shelf or what's on racks and what I'm putting in my body or on my body.

August Vega:

It's always just been of interest, almost a hobby, and we had a family need. I was born with a dairy allergy. My son was born with a dairy allergy. It's kind of a story everyone's heard if they know of the brand at all. But so. I married the business acumen that I developed in sustainability and efficiency with kind of a hobby and something that we needed as a family to create Malk and enter the CPG landscape.

Vai Kumar:

Okay, perfect. The need for becoming more environmentally sustainable across the industry. I mean, I know Malk as a product cannot be like a standalone thing that can bring about a change to planet Earth, correct? So, as far as the need for becoming more environmentally sustainable across the industry, how do you think that shift can happen? I mean your product, the one that you created? That's a great story, of course, combining this personal need and the passion for sustainability, or the experience as well, in sustainability.

August Vega:

Yeah, I mean for Malk, and I'm no longer involved with the company, but with the company. It was more about good for you versus good for Earth, and many times what's good for us and in our bodies is also good for planet Earth, right? So there's a parallel there. Obviously, shifting from cow's milk to dairy milk, there's an environmental impact. There's so many different variables when you're calculating you know, sustainability factor.

August Vega:

It's not just one for one. You have to obviously look at the water usage and then you look at water usage to raise cattle and, like you have to calculate so many different things to get to a proper LCA or an assessment of your ranking in terms of environmental impact. So with Malk, the idea was really more about like healthy body equals healthy Earth. Obviously, the packaging was not sustainable and I really worked while I was there to try to get it up to a good standard. But as a young brand and I think this is something that lots of entrepreneurs are challenged with in the food industry in particular it's very hard to make money. There's just a lot of different things that you have to pay for in order to just gain shelf space, and so oftentimes being in sustainable packaging is so much more expensive than the other alternatives, and it's just not something that young companies can really focus on, and the ones that do, they're at a much higher price point and consumers don't really understand why is this butter or ice cream or cheese?

Vai Kumar:

or whatever it is $3 more than this.

August Vega:

Well, it's because you know, when you try to do the right things, it comes at a cost, and so hopefully we can bring that down and we can talk about that in a little bit. But in terms of sustainability, I think it's across a lot of different views and a lot of different categories and there's so much. There's so many simple things that we can do as human beings, that where we can start, and then it goes from there to. I'm working with the company I'm an advisor for who they're capping old oil wells to prevent methane from leaking into the atmosphere.

August Vega:

Like there's things across the board that we do. I think as a consumer first of all, as an entrepreneur, you have to really understand all the components going in. As a consumer, you can start anywhere from Stopping the use of plastic bags. I had an intern one time who went on to work for Greenpeace and they were trying to shut down a Canal in Houston from allowing oil tankers to come through and I was like thinking to myself that's so awesome and so admirable they actually got into a lot of trouble for it. But why don't we start with, like let's eliminate all the plastic bags in the United States? Like let's, let's do it Tangelo, focus on one thing, get that accomplished, then go to the next and then Tackle the big stuff. But there's so many little low-hanging fruit things that need to be done that I think they're almost overlooked by this Mountain. That needs to be achieved if that makes sense.

Vai Kumar:

Certainly, I think you know very well said, like even the plastic bag usage. If grocery stores can focus on that, if as a Nation we can focus on that, and you and me as individuals, if every time we can bring our own, be very disciplined. I should say about bringing our own shopping bags every time we walk into, say, the local grocery store or to a Whole Foods, whatever that may be right. Yes, that's definitely like you pointed out, tangible goals. But as far as the cost that's involved in sustainable packaging and things like that with the food industry, do you think brands agree and see this as a priority right now? How better can they handle themselves? I mean, there's deforestation, there's packaging, there's climate, smart farming practices all of these sustainable sourcing. There's several facets to this whole complex term, or puzzle, or piece of the puzzle for sustainability right.

August Vega:

I think that it has to come in the the ethos of the brand. Whether you can achieve it initially or not is a separate thing, but having that in the core of the aspiration is that we source 50% of our ingredients from a regenerative Farm or we use upcycled ingredients. Or if you start to look at everything that goes into, let's say you're making an ice cream and I've worked with Straight out of milk. I consulted with and then went to work for a company that's actually in food tech, all based around sustainability, which was very different from the milk ethos but very much aligned with my personal ethos and what I had done previously Professionally.

August Vega:

From that perspective, everything was looked at because the core ingredient was Sustainable and more sustainable, and that was the key fiber of why it existed. Everything in terms of like packaging, ingredients. It's what we're evaluated before you know, moving forward with something that's very unique. I don't think that that's really possible for most small you know CPG brands. It requires an intense amount of funding. I consult with and work with an ice cream brand, sacred serve. Who she? The woman's name is Kaylee.

August Vega:

She's amazing and from the ingredients that she puts in her product it's upcycled ingredients to the packaging, which is compostable. She has thought of every single piece along the line. She's had a really hard go, though. It's been really, really challenging. You know it's been a more expensive product. It's, it's amazing the paradigm and I think there has to be a shift, and I believe we're on the cusp of it, where consumers not just and I use this word loosely because it's probably not the right word to use, but not just elite or Consumers that prioritize certain things and spend a lot of money.

August Vega:

But when a mom of four that's going to the grocery store that's on a budget, starts to prioritize and think about earth when she's making decisions, that's when things will start to shift, because more brands will Invest, and then the packaging costs come down and everything starts to normalize and that's becomes, you know, the new norm. We're just not there yet, and so right now we need hero brands and hero people to tell the story, to explain to Consumers why this is important. Like that, these small acts, choosing one ice cream over another, choosing one butter over another Actually can make a huge impact to the planet.

Vai Kumar:

So I see this mainly as an education issue, right? So once you are able to better inform the consumers about the why and how of Everything that's happening and why the cost is high and things like that, right, and it's all right, I feel it's all tied together, it's all interlinked as well. Saying, in lieu of a Plastic jug for, say, like a milk, you know, you put it in like a more sustainable packaging. You also are able to stay away from any hormonal disturbances or what not coming from the use of plastic, right? So does it then call for certain processes to be implemented at the grassroots level, august, or is it a matter of increased Environmental social governance? Reporting? What systems do you think? I know you're a huge proponent of systems and clean tech, and so how then do we go about it?

August Vega:

I think that there needs to be a really good accountability system that's not pushed almost like an organization, it's a nonprofit that really starts to help and becomes a seal that says and there are some that exist, but maybe not as comprehensive as what we're talking about, but really start to raise funds around educating and Look for this that it equals X, right, like by this, this seal equals this in a very Concise and clean and just straightforward way. I think that oftentimes Explanations of how some of these things work or you know, we get into too many details, that gets it can confuse and distract people. There's like, ah, whatever. So I think that cleaner and more concise that we can make this and understanding the teaching of like it's this simple you make this choice over this choice and it equates to this, I think is really important, and so there needs to be some kind of an organization Established that's really just 100% focused on educating, I think yeah, that seems like the need of the hour.

Vai Kumar:

and Increasing a company's positive impact on society, say, even if they truly you know their intentions are good, they come from a good place, the how and why of it again, is that revolving around this education aspect, or do you see something more to it than just educating?

August Vega:

from your own experience With whatever you were able to do with mall can, being on the advisory of a couple of other big brands- again, it has to be part of the ethos and part of what's driving the business and so, early on, establishing kind of making it a goal. That doesn't mean you have to achieve you know Every single box from day one. But making it a goal and a priority to do better and provide something better. It becomes easier than it seems if it's not a goal and it's just something out there that could be a nice to have. You can't prioritize it because in this space in particular and consumer packaged goods it is really a slog every day. It's a very challenging environment and so you have to prioritize it or your other priorities will jump up.

Vai Kumar:

Right there, you pointed out challenges and even as a primary challenge, cost. That's a huge underlying aspect, right? What other challenges do you see for brands to be able to keep these priorities at the top of their list?

August Vega:

In this space, it's well known that funding is critical and key right. You can't create a product in the consumer space without ample funding.

August Vega:

That was really probably the biggest lesson I learned was around funding and how much it takes, and there's so many lessons there we won't go digress into that, but the people that you bring on board. I think having these goals as part of a non-negotiable right, no matter what these are important to the brand. This is important to the consumer. The education piece is important, and really establishing that from the outset of even taking on investors, part of the pitch deck should have you know that this is the ethos of the brand. This is something that we can't budge on, and the more that brands start to make it a non-negotiable again, it all impacts. Another thing is that the more brands that invest in sustainability and packaging and ingredients, the cost comes down right, and so, until that starts to happen, it's just this weird conundrum.

Vai Kumar:

Yeah, when a bunch of people you know birds are the same for the flock together, they say so. It's almost like when several people start to do it, then it almost becomes like a norm and obviously it drives down the cost and that really helps. Of course, the impact from the consumer side being ready to pay premium for sustainability is that like a mental shift that needs to happen? Or, again, is that like an education issue, again just like we focused on earlier?

August Vega:

The education piece has to come first, and I think that's happening. I think another thing that's been really interesting that I've noticed is that retailers are tasked with sustainable objectives, and so, from that perspective, when you have goals at a retail level that trickle down to the brands, you're starting to see it all throughout the complete ecosystem. That can be really helpful, because once you have retail partners that are on board with sustainability, whatever it is you're doing, and they help you tell the story to the consumer, that helps with education, and I think we're on the cusp of some really interesting things happening. It's just we're not quite there yet. You know, like we're right, we're close.

Vai Kumar:

Like we talked about, so, with several brands and several retailers, having this almost, like you know, happen like a paradigm shift is when we can possibly even decrease the whole cost of this packaging and everything the cost of sustainable living, right, and so that's when probably it's easier to get more consumers on board as well, don't you think?

August Vega:

I think so yeah, so it all kind of feeds the cycle.

Vai Kumar:

And the recent IPCC report came out right. So how can we clean up and protect our planet? It still looks like their emissions curve is not bending yet, and so how better can we clean up and protect our planet, and what could be the different solutions and approaches that one can adopt?

August Vega:

Again, it comes down to really clear goals and it can be really confusing. You know, if you just even go on LinkedIn and read arguments between different sides of different positions of things and stuff, it can become very confusing. And so that's what really frustrates me is that the IPCC is really outlined exactly what's happening and what's going to happen and then you have people arguing over the best way to get there. But there's some really common sense things that make a lot of sense right.

August Vega:

We know for sure that factory farmed cows emit methane. It is what it is. There's absolutely no argument to that. So is the goal to completely convert every single person to becoming a vegetarian or vegan? That's probably unrealistic. Could we establish some kind of guideline that says if you eliminate eating red meat four days out of the seven days a week? We need to break down the goals for people so that they can understand what to do.

August Vega:

I believe in my heart that everyone on this planet wants to be able to do something to help. I think that there's less of an argument whether there's a problem or not, especially in this country anymore. There used to be a big argument. I think everyone can identify that there's a problem. I think that the frustration comes from the lack of understanding of what to do Like. What do we do? Like how can I make a difference? And so that's when I was talking about. You know, let's stop using plastic bags. Let's eliminate meat at least four days a week.

August Vega:

The company I'm working with that caps the wells and prevents methane from leaking into the atmosphere. There's so many companies like that that you can support that. It just takes a little bit of research If we know for sure, like you could have a goal, a personal goal. I want to help mitigate X amount of methane this year because I know that the goal for globally is XYZ. Whatever right you can find ways to contribute. You just have to kind of look and try not to get overwhelmed Like make one goal an achievable goal, get that accomplished and then move on to the next goal. I would say it is an extremely overwhelming problem, even for experts. Right, it's not a simple problem, but it also doesn't have to be that complex. I think focusing on achievable goals and accomplishing them would really give us all a lot of momentum.

Vai Kumar:

Again, it's an education issue. If you make them realize that everyone needs to contribute, no one is going to walk away. But it almost seems like people are just shying from that ownership aspect right now. So it's like, right from that plastic bag, right, it's okay if I just bring it back in plastic one more time, just one more day, right, but the one more keeps adding up and we just seem to fill our oceans still with plastic and everything is just contaminated. I guess the methane emissions that you talked about, the food, water efficiency and, more and most importantly, eliminate food waste, right, we all don't realize how much food we are wasting. How is all of this contributing? I know you already touched upon vegetarian or veganism is perhaps not highly realistic, although cutting back, scaling back on the number of days that one needs meat is very much an achievable goal, and that's where goal setting is important, right? How then, can we at least take like a first step in terms of the methane emissions, the food waste and also achieving more water efficiency? August?

August Vega:

It's extremely overwhelming, I would say, because I have a level of education in a lot of these things. It's really frustrating and it can be really, really disappointing and like depressing in terms of seeing water systems watering people's flowers in your garden when it's raining outside. It's just like this is so common sense and easy. I just can't handle it. I literally can't take it, but it's so hard to tackle all of these things. I think that it definitely what everything points back to is education, because when you look at food waste, we have food waste and then we have food deserts, right, and food insecurity. That's not an equation that fits like it doesn't make sense whatsoever.

August Vega:

Who is the body that figures out how to solve these things? And I don't think it's one body. I think it comes from all of us being conscious of the issues that exist and what our part can be. So I would say, from a water efficiency perspective, I've also seen a lot of this, like online, and it's really frustrating. It's like well, it's not the almond milk that's the problem.

August Vega:

It's the cows and it's not watering your lawn, it's a problem. It's factory farms, it's not this and it's not that. And it's like yeah, yeah, yeah, okay, but what can you control? What can you control today? I can control that I won't buy meat. I don't eat meat. I won't buy meat. Okay, I can control that. I'm not going to do that.

August Vega:

I can control that I don't water my lawn and I have more than zero scape lawn. That's something I can do If you must have green grass, if that's something that you can't compromise on don't water your lawn when it's raining outside. It's like these little common sense things where so much waste happens from neglect and silly behaviors. It's special.

Vai Kumar:

Back in a moment with our guest on Fresh Leaf Forever. When we focus on amount of food that is wasted, do people even realize that when they waste food, what happens down the road? And do you think there is that awareness even in the first place that they are contributing to deterioration of planet earth?

August Vega:

There's a complete lack of education, and I don't know how you would receive this education, but even from taking food and placing it in like a disposal in your sink and processing it there and sending it through the water system, that's degrading planet earth, right? Throwing your food waste in a garbage bin creates gases, you know, that emit into earth. There are so many things that need to be changed, educated and changed at a core level, where throwing things in a plastic bag and tossing it to the side and expecting that nothing happens from that is completely wrong, right? Like if you go to a landfill, there's a layer of gas underneath all of that garbage that sometimes it's converted to energy, so that I guess that's interesting, but not the best if it weren't. That emits into air.

August Vega:

You know, everything we do has an impact, and so until we start to look at it that way and try, not to get overwhelmed, but understand that each action that we take, that maybe there's a smaller action, a tiny bit harder, but really not that unachievable that we could do to make it better. I think it's a mindset shift that we have to get to pretty quick.

Vai Kumar:

Definitely seems like every home can adopt at least minimally retangible goals to begin with, right, even from a personal home level standpoint, or from an individual level standpoint. You have pointed out several solution areas, so to speak. Say, the plastic bag not wasting food, just consume or buy only what's necessary and consume all or most of what you can. And then other things like throwing food in the garbage bin, not throwing food in the disposal, you know, watering the lawn only as much as you can. Even from these one can on a personal level, at the grassroots level, can pick at least like a couple of things to start with, because takeaways from this podcast, right, and when we finally you know, put it out to the world.

Vai Kumar:

People can do that, but do you think people know what other sources form methane emissions, where from it's coming? Is it just the animal products? Where else is this all emanating from, and do people realize that?

August Vega:

I don't think so I mean I don't think that an average consumer or someone in a different field is focused on understanding, and so that's again. It all points back to this one centralized issue, which is the education piece, and so who's going to do the educating Like who's actually? It's very challenging for a brand of any kind, whether that's a consumer packaged good or you know my friends who are packing wells and they're going to be selling tokens.

August Vega:

Anyone can buy a token to retire a well, like really interesting stuff. That's going on. It's a heavy lift for these individual companies to educate everyone, right? So you have to kind of be looking for it. You have to. Number one want to learn. Number two we do need to have better resources to teach.

August Vega:

Very simply, teach people this equals this, equals this, like it's that simple. If you do this, it turns to this, which turns to this. It's almost like an infographic would be helpful for people, because when you're listening to the reports or the governmental agency speaking about it, it just starts to become very nuanced and challenging to follow sometimes. So I think understanding maybe the three basic components of what the problems are and then how you're contributing is critical, and that I don't know how we reach everyone with that.

Vai Kumar:

I think maybe start with elementary schools and you know, do town halls at workplaces, things like that, right? It's critical.

August Vega:

Even cars. You know, like my family, we have one gas powered car and one electric car, and when I was going to purchase a new car, I've always been a vehicle person. I like vehicles. I used to race cars when I was younger. I just have this weird affinity for vehicles and I just made a conscious decision I will not buy another gas powered vehicle period. And so when you put the parameters around yourself, you go like this all of this is not tangible to me anymore, because I've made this my goal.

August Vega:

Then you just have this pool to choose from, and if everyone did that imagine if every single family that was about to purchase a new car, instead of purchasing a gas powered car, purchased an electric car. Maybe they still have a pickup track or a suburban or whatever. But that other vehicle is taking it. You know it's preventing emissions. That's another way. Like there are, you can make changes that aren't so overwhelming that you feel like I mean we shouldn't all be changing our lives 100%. But if you can't do that, there are little nuance changes that do add up to big impacts.

Vai Kumar:

Through offline. Before we started this, you and I were talking about, you know, the weather at your place today and the weather at my place today and turns out, you know, we both live in the southern region of the United States and doesn't seem like we are getting anywhere because there's so much change in or the shift in weather pattern than what is supposedly experienceable at this time of the year. Right, I definitely want to focus on your advocacy, but before that, if we could focus, you already started about the blockchain technology and this one organization that you are involved with, carbon Path, right. So then, prematurely shutting down oil and gas wells, helping in that and offering tokens? So, in terms of utilizing technology to solve climate crisis, where are we at? What else can we do and how is all that going to pan out in the future?

August Vega:

Yeah, I mean I think, speaking from my experience with Carbon Path, you know when I got involved. They're an amazing group of guys and gals, and so they prematurely shut down wells that are underperforming. And then they also go and use a mitigation process for abandoned wells. So I think what most definitely most average consumer unless you're in the oil and gas industry, you would know this.

August Vega:

But oftentimes when a well runs dry or when it's not producing anymore, the oil companies will pick up and take off and they don't cap the wells in a way that's sustainable, and so they continue to emit methane for many, many, many years to come. And now one oil well emitting methane is probably not going to impact climate change too much but imagine how many oil? Well, there's millions, right Like millions, and they're all emitting, and so this one company alone has found a way number one.

August Vega:

they have a drone technology that can detect and measure methane. They have a way of caping, sustainably capping these wells, and then they're using a blockchain and Web 3 to mint tokens so that an average consumer first of corporate sustainability as a person can go and offset whatever they want to offset. It's a very tangible solution.

August Vega:

Like I said before, I got started in carbon offsets back in 2006 is when I first started in that field, where it was really just plant a tree and hope that it grows. Nothing happens to it. And so this is an extremely tangible, measurable and verifiable way to understand like I paid for this and here is what it did for Earth. Right, and so they have a big education piece ahead of them and, first of all, explaining to average consumers that this is a problem and then there is a solution, and how you can use blockchain to acquire these tokens that you can either retire or you can hold on to them. They increase in value, all that good stuff To me when I think about it from a consumer branding perspective when I look at their model and talk with them about it and advise with them.

August Vega:

If you know there's an abandoned well or a low producing well near a school, why not get the parents of that school to pitch in and buy tokens and shut that down and prevent methane? You know there's so many community based. As long as you can get the education out there, I think there's so many ways to get communities around. Some of these solutions that would make people feel empowered and once you feel empowered, you have momentum to keep going and searching for other ways to feel good. Because it does. It should make you feel good if you're doing something you know, so it's an interesting way.

August Vega:

I think that people are a bit confused by the Web 3 blockchain piece of it when it comes to this one business, but it's really just a vehicle to give you something tangible that says you actually shut down a well right, like that's the only thing that that is. It's more about preventing methane from leaking into the atmosphere.

Vai Kumar:

And what other ways you think technology can help solve this whole climate crisis?

August Vega:

Probably so many right, there's just from a detection and understanding perspective. I think technology has really brought us leaps and bounds from where we were 20 years ago, so I think that the possibilities are limitless. I believe that there are slews and slews of people that are completely focused on trying to do better and trying to change the trajectory that we're on right, and so that's a combination of human activity combined with technology, combined with all sorts of stuff, right, I think that we can't wait for policy to make the change. That's what I know, and so the more companies that are out there whether that's a consumer package, good whether it's a company like Carbon Path who's actually really tangibly doing something pretty major that's what it's really going to take to make the shift.

Vai Kumar:

And, in terms of CPG brand success and your advisory role, how a woman founder's lens is making a difference. Why don't you just take us through that side of August Vega?

August Vega:

Yeah, I mean that's a whole topic in itself, but I think women are experiencing it's a really interesting time to be a woman in business, and especially depending on whether you're just now entering your business trajectory or you are a bit more seasoned and have some experience. I happen to think and this might be frowned upon, but I don't think that anyone intentionally sets out to discriminate. Let's just say, as a woman, I can get angry about something or say, oh, that guy talked to me this way, he shouldn't have done that.

August Vega:

Or this person or any minority or person that isn't a minority group. I think that there are a lot of dynamics that come into play when you start looking at power shifts, or having a woman founder's lens, or having there's so many dynamics and you have to kind of dissect all of them and none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes and how it's handled. I think the difference between how mistakes or issues are handled.

August Vega:

When it comes to women in leadership versus men in leadership, there is kind of a gap, and that's where we need to be a bit more conscious and understand that that's an area of focus. It's not that women don't have opportunities these days they do and it's not that you can't make it happen, because you can. I think it's when issues arise there is a different lens that's placed upon a woman or I'll just speak for women because I am a woman that it's potentially a bit more harsh than when it comes to a man making the same kind of mistakes.

August Vega:

So, that's the lens that I try to bring, not to any specific situation, to every situation. Is that like, hold on a minute like I think we've all been in situations where we've made mistakes? The other piece to it is and I'll speak more to my own situation with Malk is there's just a lot of dynamics when it comes to the food industry and it's an interesting space because the barrier to entry is really low, like you don't really have to have experience, you don't if you have a good idea and you know how to hustle, you can really make it happen.

August Vega:

But the flexities of the food industry and the ways in which the amount of capital that it takes and the ways in which things can go wrong on an hour to hour basis are so complex more so than any other business I've ever been involved in that it's kind of a weird dynamic in that you have a great idea.

August Vega:

You don't really know what you're doing. You're hustling, you bring it to market. You think you're doing really well. You're going to get hit with so many challenges on a day-to-day basis that I'm thinking. What I'm feeling is that the shifting that's happening in the market right now, I think the barrier to entry is going to get a bit harder, and it probably should, because it's a very, very challenging industry.

Vai Kumar:

I'll just say so you're trying to say, if the barrier is harder, rather than someone finding the entry point to be very easy but then not being able to cope up with the challenges, it's rather easier to handle the initial tough entry, but then that way you're well positioned, so to speak, in terms of when challenges crop up, right? So yeah, I think that's that's yes, and taking on capital.

August Vega:

There needs to be a whole masterclass in what that means and how to do, the dynamics that, the shift that happens and what you need to be prepared for and how to manage through it. I've been contacted by so many women that have really had a lot of challenges recently and.

August Vega:

I think that it's a hard market, things are uncertain, people are scared and that people start to react in that situation. But we really need to educate people, no matter who it is I'm focusing on women but to understand that taking on capital, first of all, shouldn't be a celebrated like you're such a success. You raised money. Like well, okay, that's just one part of it. And what does that actually mean? Like how do you what's required of you after that? Right, I think people really need to be educated on that a lot more than they are.

Vai Kumar:

Okay, fantastic. And in terms of your personal journey, you said, yeah, you had to wrestle with terrier allergy and then you later found out your son had one and that all that led to creating this wonderful product. Malk and I personally have had health issues and I know what is involved in finding ways to eat clean. I guess when we eat clean we also contribute to the environment. But overall, in terms of advocacy efforts and in terms of the betterment of our planet, what would you say from the sheer lens of food that somebody puts on their plate?

August Vega:

Like what would be best In terms of eating practices.

August Vega:

yes, yes, I mean, it goes without saying that avoiding factory-formed animal products is critical. That's very critical. You know, I have people in my life that I never thought would become vegan, that have. I don't know that. Like we said, I don't know that that's a realistic goal today, but trying to fill the primary like your plate being primarily vegetables and grains and if you are a person who is going to insist upon eating meat, don't buy factory-formed meat and try to limit it. That's a very easy, simple way to make a big difference.

Vai Kumar:

And also from an animal welfare standpoint as well. Right, so right there. You're targeting your personal health, you're targeting animal welfare and you're targeting betterment of planet in terms of all the methane emissions and whatnot, and in terms of takeaways for a more sustainable future. If you were to pick out whatever we talked and anything more and in terms of advocacy efforts, what would you say August? And what would you say, hey, why do this at the Paris minimum tomorrow and have listeners do something as their next step? What would that be?

August Vega:

Well, I think it depends on where you are in your journey, right, but I would say at a bare minimum. I'll go back to where I started, which is stop using plastic to the extent that you can. Instead of using, take your bags to the grocery store every single time. Keep them in your car. Don't ever use plastic bags. Take Ziploc bags. Do away with them. Start using lunchkins. There's so many different ways you can store food without using plastic. Just stop the plastic. It's hideous. It's when you see what it's doing to the ocean and maybe not everyone has seen it, but when you see the critical mass of plastic in our ocean, it's really traumatizing.

Vai Kumar:

So that would be one.

August Vega:

Number two would be definitely limiting me. Those are two very if you're just conscious of it and you go okay, I have two goals. What are they going to be? Those are the two goals that I think can make the biggest impact. And once you accomplish those two goals, you're incentivized to keep moving.

Vai Kumar:

Perfect and in terms of someone not realizing hey, how can I volunteer, how can I contribute? What would be their starting point?

August Vega:

I think, just starting to educate yourself, because there's not a great education system. You can start to read. There's plenty of materials accessible to all of us these days. All you have to do is get it on your phone. You can read from any place, any time, anywhere. So start by understanding the critical points, like what is it that's the most making the most impact? So let's start with methane. What is your contribution? What is your personal contribution to methane? How can you personally start to reduce your personal contribution to methane?

August Vega:

Like just educate yourself on your family and what you can do. Try not to worry about everyone. You can't impact everyone. But once you start making changes and you're educated and you talk to your neighbor or your brother or your sister or your family, whatever, it kind of starts to spread. But if we become overwhelmed to the point of stagnation and do nothing, we're in big trouble.

Vai Kumar:

Very well said, and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today and, if there is anything else that you would like to add in terms of putting out your efforts, your contacting for any such Thank you.

August Vega:

Yeah, I mean I'm accessible online. I'm on all the social channels and the companies that I support are very much visible. On all of those I'm always welcome. I welcome anyone to reach out if someone has a question or whatever. I can be reached at August@ August Vega. com, and I appreciate the conversation. We need to all be having these conversations. It's really important.

Vai Kumar:

Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today. We thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to connecting back with you again in the future.

August Vega:

Thank you so much. Have a wonderful rest of your week.

Vai Kumar:

Thank you to listeners as always. Follow the podcast, rate the podcast and leave a review from your podcast app of choice, and follow me on Instagram @vaipkumar. Until next time with yet another interesting guest and yet another interesting topic. It's me Vai saying so long.

Sustainable Packaging in the Food Industry
Increasing Company's Positive Impact on Society
Education and Solutions for Climate Crisis
Power Dynamics and Women in Leadership