018 - Failing to Save The Planet with Ian Walker of Left Coast Naturals


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Creating a sustainable business is about more than your carbon footprint. Sure, your environmental impact is important, but so is your societal and economic impact, including how you affect the communities you work in and how you treat the people who work for you. Today’s guest is Ian Walker, Founder, and President of Left Coast Naturals, an organic and natural food distributor of ‘better ingredient’ brands like Hippie Snacks, among others. Ian has come a long way from selling nut butter with a friend at a local market. Today, Left Coast Naturals distributes 27 different brands, over 200 organic and natural bulk foods, and manufactures three of their own brands. They have never wavered on their commitment to, not just make great food and serve their customers, but to do it in an ethical and environmentally responsible way too. In this episode, Ian shares the three pillars of a sustainable business and highlights his commitment to “asking too many questions,” as you’ll find out.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • The three pillars of sustainable business: environmental, societal, and economic impact.
  • Learn more about Ian’s background in sustainability, particularly from a business perspective.
  • Why going back to the basics of whole foods isn’t as complicated as others make it sound.
  • The importance of continuous learning and striving to be better than the day before.
  • How Ian arrived at this model, growing a manufacturing branded business in parallel with a distribution business.
  • How knowing not just what you want to be, but also what you don’t, can benefit your business.
  • The unique selling point that manufacturing their own products provides Left Coast Naturals.
  • Ian’s mission to streamline the growing trend towards consuming more whole foods.
  • How innovation has had to evolve as organic products have become more mainstream.
  • The process of creating whole food products that are both price and format-friendly.
  • Some of the biggest obstacles Ian has faced on this journey, including consumer perception.
  • How Ian hopes to combat greenwashing and elevate B Corps in the eyes of consumers.
  • Learn more about the inherent requirements for shelf-stable packaging, namely its seal and barrier properties.
  • Ian explains why the illusion of recycling or composting plastic packaging is a false narrative.
  • Why being challenged is an important part of leading the way in any field, and why businesses should be open to criticism.
  • How businesses are quick to adopt sustainable initiatives when it costs less, but hesitant when it costs more.
  • Ian’s commitment to “ask too many questions” when it comes to their non-GMO promise.
  • Predictions for the future of the whole and organic foods industry: there will be end solutions.
  • How a new generation of conscious employees is shifting companies for the better.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Ian Walker on LinkedIn

Left Coast Naturals

Hippie Snacks

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