Social Impact Leaders — Interview w/ Anaita Sarkar & Vik Sarkar of Hero Packaging™
Not only are the Founders of Hero Packaging, Anaita Sarkar and Vike Davé, composting ambassadors, they’re also simply good at business. With over 20 years of experience in the ecommerce industry, Anaita and Vik are experts in this space and know what works and what doesn’t.
Vik has worked in sales, marketing and ecommerce his whole working life. From starting in door-to-door sales through to the Head of ecommerce of one of the largest online retailers in Australia, where he increased sales by two and a half times in his five year period there. Vik has been involved in every aspect of sales and marketing from both a face-to-face perspective and online. If there’s something you want to know about marketing or ecommerce — ask Vik.
Anaita’s path to ecommerce guru was a bit different. Growing up in a family that owned a small business, Anaita began her working career behind the reception desk and she therefore fully understands the challenges small businesses face on a daily basis. After studying a Bachelor of Commerce, specialising in Accounting, Anaita soon realised the accounting industry wasn’t for her and moved into media. Within her first year she was promoted twice and began presenting at meetings whilst a junior, which at the time was not standard practice. In 2013 Anaita began guest lecturing marketing subjects at Macquarie University and whilst pregnant with her second child, Anaita started her first ecommerce business. Anaita is also author of the digital marketing book Sell Anything Online.
Social Impact — What meaning do you personally associate with this term?
Imagine this: If a small business ships, on average, 10 orders a day, it can prevent the size of two championship-sized tennis courts worth of plastic from entering landfill or our oceans. One small business making 10 orders a day produces about 367.5 square metres of packaging waste every year.
The sheer impact of eradicating plastic from online retailers in their shipping process, is set to grow as the founders Anaita and Vik Sarkar, set their sights on global expansion.
Anaita: Online retail is growing exponentially fast, partly fuelled by Covid, and we think e-commerce packaging is a really key issue that is flying under the radar simply because the volume of online retail packaging is not as visible as the use of plastic in physical retail stores, restaurants and supermarkets. So, that’s where we’ve decided to focus our energy: on the packaging and shipping process for small to large e-commerce businesses.
Vik: We have learnt along the way that recycling is not enough. 90% of plastics and food scraps end up in landfill, and in that environment, they produce methane which is a deadly enemy of our Planet. So, we decided to specialise in mailers that were certified home compostable, but also made from such materials that if they ended up in landfill, they would still break down with no micro plastics and no waste.
Social Responsibility — What is your best practice to integrate it into your daily life?
The answer is actually in your question. The key is to integrate social responsibility into everyday life and for it not to be an ‘extra’. Social responsibility is a way of being and an attitude. It’s about having a positive impact on people, on the planet and speaking up for others that don’t have a voice. The best practice is to shift our mindset so it’s not something we have to think about, instead our actions happen organically.
Purchasing Power — What is it all about, and why is it real power?
Monday talks, that’s why purchasing power is real power. A lot of consumers don’t realise that they have all the power because the choice is theirs — to purchase or not to purchase. Whilst a lot people may think they can’t make a difference as a single person, it’s amazing the difference that can be made when people vote with their wallets. Now more than ever, if a product doesn’t align with a consumer’s values, consumers aren’t purchasing from those companies, instead they’re researching and finding companies that match their values. That’s why it is important for companies to evaluate their values and then share those values, so many companies don’t do that.
Conscious Living — Why is it important to live our life consciously? And how do our actions influence and affect each other, and therefore connect us?
I think it’s important that we live our life consciously so that we stop and ask ourselves ‘why?’. Why do we do the things we do and why do we make the decisions we make. Is it because that’s how our family has always done it, is it because that’s what we think society expects us to do or is it because we think that’s the norm. When we live consciously, we turn off our autopilot and habitual behaviour and instead make decisions that are based on our values and what’s important to us personally. By doing so this can then connect us with like minded people and it can also inspire others to follow in our footsteps.
Conscious Consumerism — Why, now more than ever, it is important to reflect on our buying habits, and research the brands we are consuming?
Conscious consumerism is important now more than ever because of the amount of fast fashion and fast beauty industry items that are ending up in landfill and because this is the last decade for us to make a positive impact on the environment. If people aren’t sure if it’s a fast beauty/fashion product they should Google the brand. If they’re a reputable brand they should be mentioned, in a positive and value add way in some articles. If we can stop ourselves from purchasing fast beauty and fashion products and we’ll be able to reverse our over consumption.
Commercial — From your point of view, what are the commercial practices that are unhealthy to humanity?
Hmm, where to start… I think to answer this one you have to look at social impact and what the collective actions of an industry is doing or not doing. For example, unethical sourcing and practices in the fashion industry and the unrealistic body and beauty images portrayed by the magazine industry. Whilst consumers have a choice whether to purchase or not to purchase from commercial brands, it’s the social and wellbeing impact some industries have that are unhealthy to humanity.
The Future — What is your personal outlook on the future?
Our predictions for the future in terms of sustainability is that we, as a society, need to make a positive impact within the next 10 years. Everyone needs to work together, otherwise there isn’t going to be a proper planet to live on. Our natural resources are going to be completely eliminated. It’s no longer a case of should you or should you not, it’s now how to do it. I don’t believe it should ever be a question of schools or when discussing climate change with friends that you ‘believe’ in climate change. It’s now a fact that we are living in a precarious time where if we don’t work on fixing it now, our environment is not going to cope and recover.
Change — What do you personally think needs to change — from a consumer perspective and within the corporate world?
In terms of from a consumer perspective when it comes to reducing landfill, I think it’s up to the wider community to understand more in depth the requirements around how to dispose of different products. I think that’s a really key issue. Unfortunately it can be complex and households generally have the best intentions but some don’t seem to care and will put plastic that is perfectly recyclable in their waste bin. The community can better help by properly recycling what can be recycled and having the dedicated bins in their home to dispose of the different waste products.
From a corporate perspective, there can be a lot done in this space of product design. At the moment a lot of the responsibility is landing on the consumer, however if products were better designed with sustainability in mind, then a lot of the complexities and consumer confusion would be removed.
Connect with Hero Packaging™ on Instagram.
Demee Koch about the MEDIUM interview series on Social Impact:
Hello! I am a serial entrepreneur practising conscious entrepreneurship. This is an interview series about social responsibility and the best practices in incorporating it into our daily lives.
Every day, we make an impact consciously and subconsciously. It is implemented through our actions.
A great example of this is the practice of our Purchasing Power where we can actually direct our impact by consciously deciding which brands and companies we nourish.
I interview change advocates about best practices for incorporating social consciousness into our daily lives, and practices in the business world that need to change for the benefit of social responsibility.
With this interview, we invite the reader to reflect their every day actions. We all have an impact, and if we are consciously aware of that, we can be empowered to start the change for a better future.
Thank you for being the change. I’m looking forward to learn from each one of you. Reach out to me via LinkedIn.