Social Impact Leaders — Interview w/ Kateleine Morsink of TEALEAVES
Kate Morsink is working to bridge the gap between for-profit companies, foundations, academics and non profits in order to create dynamic, multi-disciplinary solutions to tackle climate change by raising awareness and sparking behaviour change across sectors.
Prior to starting her Master’s in Sustainability Management at Columbia, Kate received an honours degree from Queen’s University, Bachelor of Commerce, with specialization in social impact and business sustainability.
For over four years, Kate has been working at TEALEAVES, a luxury tea company that serves leading hotel groups such as Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton. At TEALEAVES Kate holds two roles, one as a Business Development Manager traveling internationally for client consultations, and another as an internal sustainability consultant. Kate started the company’s sustainability department and worked to transform their packaging and supply chain away from single-use plastic and linear practices. Kate also co-organized Nature x Design, a pro bono initiative and virtual festival in partnership with the United Nations.
Social Impact — What meaning do you personally associate with this term?
To me, social impact is about creating value on a societal level. It does so through the lens of ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance)
Social Responsibility — What is your best practice to integrate it into your daily life?
I have adopted a plant-based diet to limit my emissions. Reducing meat and dairy consumption is one of the most impactful acts that individuals can take to not only reduce their carbon footprint but to also shift larger societal trends.
Purchasing Power — What is it all about, and why is it real power?
Since becoming vegan over six years ago I have witnessed a drastic increase in the amount of plant based foods, restaurants and products that are now available across the market and at much more accessible price points. This would not have happened if there was not a consumer shift and increased demand in the development and innovation of these products.
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?
Living aligned with your values is an extremely rewarding, and cementing personal practice. It reaffirms your purpose. Modeling the benefits of conscious living makes it more appealing to others. We are greatly influenced by our peers, it’s why ‘influencers’ have become so powerful over the last decade. I have never pushed my practices on others and believe that these choices need to be intrinsically led. However, the majority of my closest friends and family members have now adopted much more sustainable eating and living practices as a result of osmosis. The ripple effect is real but it only works if it comes from a place of compassion and respect. A lifestyle that works well for one person may not serve someone else.
Conscious Consumerism — Why, now more than ever, it is important to reflect on our buying habits, and research the brands we are consuming?
We are at a turning point as a society. Large brands are desperately pivoting to try not to lose market share to the growing demand for sustainable consumerism. At the same time, brands are not doing enough. We are not on track for our targeted 1.5 degrees of warming and we need everyone working at full speed and full commitment to make that happen. While the responsibility shouldn’t fall heaviest on consumers, embracing the abundance of choice they now have access to on the market and investing their money with intention will help to accelerate a societal shift away from our current linear practices.
Commercial — From your point of view, what are the commercial practices that are unhealthy to humanity?
Industrial agriculture that utilizes mono crops and tilling, as well as deforestation for livestock is destroying our planet. These practices also increase the risks of health crises like pandemics. Fast fashion is creating endless waste while greenwashing to consumers and exploiting developing and low income communities.
The Future — What is your personal outlook on the future?
I am currently studying my Master’s in Sustainability Management at Columbia while working, and I have never been more optimistic about the future. Being in this current seat, I can see all of the incredible innovations and solutions available to us. I now realize that the only obstacle we will face in reaching our goal of 1.5 is ourselves and our willingness and readiness to adapt.
Change — What do you personally think needs to change — from a consumer perspective and within the corporate world?
Embracing practices like the circular economy model can help ‘business as usual’ companies rethink the way that they design and create. We need to start accounting for the true costs of products in their price tag — in rich developed countries. It is those the least resilient that will be affected by climate change the most because of the actions of a small few. It is up to us to change that trajectory. Consumers need to reflect on their own purchasing habits and look at the easy swaps they can make in their life without sacrifice! Eating less meat can be delicious. Shopping second hand can be stylish.
Is there anything you would like to share that we have not asked you here?
We need to change the narrative and make sustainable ‘cool’ and desirable. To celebrate wearing the same outfits over and over and to be more open minded to trying new things.
Connect with Kate Morsink 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.