Archive for March, 2008

I read a great review of the Tetra Pak carbon balancing programme on another blog this week (here’s the link) which got me thinking of where our carbon balancing contributions are spent.

There seems to be a number of dubious operators out there running carbon offsetting schemes (scams?) and because we didn’t understand too much about the mechanics, we chose an ethical junction member as our partners. Can’t go wrong with an ethical junction member – that’s our experience anyway…

The description of the Tetra Pak carbon offset programme link above is particularly well written, so rather than abbreviate or exaggerate, here’s a pasted extract of where and how our carbon balanced business dues are being spent on 2 particular compensation projects, by our friends at CLEVEL – the ethical carbon balancing entity…

RAINFOREST RESTORATION – CLEVEL’s carbon compensation project in Uganda is replanting deforested zones within key national parks to deliver certified CO2 uptake and full restoration of vital ecosystems.

Ugandan planting sites are managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in partnership with the FACE Foundation and are located in the Kibale and Mount Elgon national parks. UWA was established in 1996 to conserve and manage the wildlife and protected areas of Uganda, in partnership with neighbouring communities and stakeholders, for the benefit of the people of Uganda and the global community. You can read more about this project here.

The other is the UPESI PROJECT to provide ‘energy technology’ compensation through the making and use of efficient cooking stoves. The project concentrates on cooking stoves made by pottery cooperatives, that reduce fuelwood use and indoor smoke pollution.

It is underway in Kenya, with International Charity Practical Action – founded in 1966, as ITDG (the Intermediate Technology Development Group), by Dr EF Schumacher to prove that his philosophy of ‘Small is Beautiful’ could bring real and sustainable improvements to people’s lives.

Practical Action aims to demonstrate and advocate the sustainable use of technology to reduce poverty. I’m sure that anyone whose read this far will want to know the whole story, so here’s the link showing how they are also running programmes specifically to assist those most affected by climate change impact in the majority world.

Remember what I said about Aquapax being guilt free and good for you and your baby too. “small is beautiful” – makes you think doesn’t it?
Happy Easter


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My tooth abcess appears to have calmed down – whether that was the single malt or the antiobiotics is still debatable – the ‘malt’ was for medicinal purposes – I promise…  Anyway, we had the workshop I was preparing my ‘elevator pitch’ for and it was really constructive to get honest and objective feedback from an independent group, on what I previously perceived as a reasonably well defined paragraph to describe our business.

People who listen but don’t have the same personal commitment are the only ones who can be objective and that’s why getting advice from others is so very helpful.

In any case, their core advice was to lose all the technical stuff about Aquapax water quality and to concentrate on the ecologically aware paper packaging innovation – kind of makes sense really, as that way we have something else to shout about whenever a competitor turns up with their ‘me too’ version of our Aquapax.

So, following the feedback, this is our new elevator pitch: –

At Just Drinking Water, we produce and market Aquapax pure natural mineral water packaged inside protective paper cartons. Aquapax water cartons come from sustainable and renewable forests; plastic water bottles come from declining and unsustainable oil reserves.  Aquapax are carbon balanced – guilt free and good for you and your baby too.

The fact that we hate plastic bottles so much we did something about it still seems of more interest to people at a human level, but this way, if I do meet my fantasy elevator buddy – the person who can most help us to make a difference – I’ll be prepared…

ps. Distribution continues to grow positively following our recent exhibitions and we’re getting more direct enquiries to refer on to retail partners too – keep a look out for Aquapax in a store near you very soon; it won’t be long now (in the words of the song)!

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I’ve got an abscess reappeared in the same tooth where I’ve had 3 butchered attempts at root canal treatment over the past 4 years. The last time, I was told there shouldn’t be any repeat prospect of further infection as there isn’t any root left for the infection to get into. It made me feel reassured to a degree that I was charged so much for the privilege of having a ‘professional’ to fix the previous unsuccessful and oh so painful attempts! And now it’s back, I’m in that much pain that I don’t have the energy to feel angry. Thank goodness my local dentist was able to see me as an emergency and give me a prescription for some antibiotics – I don’t normally like taking drugs, but toothache is where I draw my ‘natural remedy’ line firmly in the science of pain relief!

Moving on, I received my electronic copy of the new ‘Business First’ magazine today courtesy of the publisher, Nick Peters. Nick is a driven man and his passion for his new magazine has driven him to produce something with quite stunning quality. He takes genuine delight in sharing positive news within his magazine, where his magazine itself is a positive news story for anyone who knows him.

The fact that it’s available as an digital copy is even better, as that’s one less thing to have lying around the office. – Sorry Nick, no reflection on the magazine but my office isn’t that big… In any case, if you find yourself browsing the electronic version I’ve linked you to (hover over the cover and press Ctrl & click your mouse at the same time) take a look at the article he’s written on us – it’s on page 10.

Yes I know it doesn’t say anything about us being carbon balanced, that the purity of our water makes it suitable for babies, that our innovative package is made from 72% paper from sustainable tree sources, that the package keeps the wonderfully pure water cooler and tasting fresh until it’s opened (because it’s sealed in airtight and light free and bacteria free conditions) but it does give Aquapax some coverage and publicity is positive in any language…

Besides, it’s the only thing that’s really made me remotely happy all day – certainly beats toothache!

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Well Jack came over and we (he) sorted out the spreadsheet to the point where we’ve now got our second set of accounts ready for annotating and sending off to companies house. Who needs accountants when you have good friends? That’s not fair really, as Jack has stepped so far out of the numerical world, he’s recommended I get a proper accountant (one who still works in the profession) to review them with me before sending them off.  There’s still six months before that’s necessary, so I won’t treat that as a priority right now.

Speaking of priorities, I was asked to prepare an elevator pitch in 50 words or less as part of an ‘ambition workshop’ I’m participating in at the Sussex Innovation Centre. It’s a great discipline really; to work with fellow entrepreneurs for a few hours each month and look at their businesses objectively to help them see things they might not otherwise see.

The principle of helping others and helping oneself in the process is long established, but I’m still pleased to have made the time to participate. The typical entrepreneurs’ working hours are 07:00 – late, so it’s a conscious decision to spend any time where you can’t see the immediate pay back for your own business issues. So far, so good though – it’s deeply rewarding to help others, even if the rewards don’t translate into monetary value. Remember that “kindness is for all times, in all situations – not just when it suits you”.

In any case, back to the so called elevator pitch… the principle here is you’re in the ‘elevator’ with the person you’ve been wanting to meet most in your dreams perhaps (keep it clean over there) and you have until the lift makes it to the floor he or she is going to, to open a conversation and communicate what your business is all about.

50 words is a good bench mark, as it keeps the other person from nodding off and if you pitch it right, they’ll give you their card, because they’ll want to hear more.

This is where my 50 words are so far… “Just Drinking Water is an independent, ethical, carbon balanced business. We market Aquapax – pure mineral water in paper cartons. Aquapax pure mineral water is planet and baby friendly; without nitrates or chemical contaminants. Just Drinking Water shares profits ‘Justly’ to create positive change for those least able to help themselves.”

It’s honest and I like it but, there’s so much more to say and already too many messages being included in such a tight space, so I realise it can’t be focused enough. I’m also not sure it says what I need to be saying to my fantasy elevator buddy, or indeed who that person is. We need distribution, as the constant e-mail requests for “where can I buy Aquapax” keep coming in.

I’ll call it work in progress and have another look tomorrow. In the meanwhile, I’m going to try and figure out how many more independent retailers we need to bring on board before we can say we’re available everywhere.
be happy, it’s only time… 😉

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It’s that time of year again – we’ve got Jack, a published author and all round wonderful friend (who used to be an accountant) coming over to help finalise things tomorrow afternoon, so I’ve had to make sure everything balances…

Accountants are funny people – they range from wonderful people like Jack, to strangely negative people who’s names I choose to forget. I suppose they’re just like any other people when you get to understand them better – having books that balance certainly helps keep them smiling.

If you know anyone whose having a ‘down’ time – I strongly recommend Jack’s book – ‘101 top tips on the art of living’. The clue’s in the title…

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Busy weekend just gone, attending the baby show at Excel on Saturday, where we’ve partnered with Debra Clare offering a free Aquapax to anyone buying one of her fabulous ‘baby bag & all’ bags at the show. Then yesterday and again today, we were/are at the Natural Trade Show in Brighton – sharing stands with our distributor friends at Marigold Health Foods and Infinity Foods– 2 separate stands!

Both of these established whole food distributors’ stands were amazingly busy and time simply evaporates as waves of people kept coming through the aisles onto their stand patch. My own experience can hardly be classed as statistically valid for an entire country, but at a human level the shift towards people seeking out reputable quality goods sourced without adverse ecological or ethical impact seems to be gathering energy and a real momentum.

At the NTS / CAMS show (complementary and alternative medicine show) , my wife attended a popular and authoritative talk on carcinogens in food and I guess that means my diet is about to change too. She seemed genuinely shocked at the findings relating to dairy produce in particular and has bought a couple of books on the subject.

I maintain what I consider is a pragmatic ‘all things in moderation’ approach, but there were certainly many people coming onto the show stands yesterday who disagree quite strongly with my ‘cavalier’ attitude. I thought I was relaxed and relatively comfortable in my skin rather than ‘cavalier’, but now I consider myself reprimanded…

Tap water has never caused me any issues I’m aware of, but some people swear on the personal symptoms and damage they attribute to this source. I’m not sure how I would actually live without tap water, as I’m simply not organised enough to constantly have an alternative available to drink but I suppose it would be prudent to moderate my personal views at future events like this – all things considered, this does bode well for Aquapax. – I did chuckle over spooking one self proclaimed bottled water ‘expert’ when I discretely advised him we have over 20 times less nitrate in Aquapax compared to the ‘volcanic’ marketing budgets of the brand he seems to have fallen for and was advocating. He seemed interested in the leaching properties of plastic bottles if not stored or handled correctly too, so let’s hope he becomes a convert…

Remember – do your own research and ‘think inside the box’ – particularly when distinguishing between recycling something scarce and ecologically devastating (oil based plastic) versus using (and perhaps re-using) something majority renewable like the carton we use for Aquapax.

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