Nelson’s Chia Sisters win the Transforming Food award at the 2019 Sustainable Business Network Awards.
The beverage industry is one of the most damaging industries on the planet. It accounts for the disposal of more single-use plastic than any other product type (food or otherwise) in both the developing and developed world at a million plastic bottles a minute.
The Chia Sisters Florence and Chloe Van Dyke have set out to change this with a focus on drinks that stand for sustainability, nutrition and innovation. They have been rewarded for their efforts winning the Transforming Food award at the 2019 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards for their ethos towards their business to have a positive impact on people and the planet.
“Chia Sisters was founded on the ethos of creating products that are good for the consumer and good for the planet. Our sustainability commitment goes hand-in-hand with our view that businesses need to prioritise having a positive impact on the community and environment in which they operate,” says Chia Sisters co-founder Chloe Van Dyke.
Chia Sisters began in 2012 when Chloe, a former neuroscientist with a passion for nutrition set out to discover the world’s healthiest foods. After years of research, the Chia Sisters’ dream was born: a range of drinks containing the richest plant source of essential nutrients on the planet.
The business grew steadily until in 2018, calamity hit. The Nelson brewery where Chloe and Florence bottled their range closed with little warning. They had to make a decision to either move into the brewery or close down the juice business. They took a risk and decided to not only move in but to use the unexpected ownership of a factory as a platform for doing good.
Firstly, just four weeks after shifting into the new space they lined the factory with solar panels. Chia Sisters juicery has the ability to harness 16,000 watts of energy per hour – twice the amount needed to power their factory – so they can send what they don’t need back to the grid. Living in Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand, made this an easy decision.
The second shift the sisters made, was to employ a great team and pay them well. Chia Sisters is Nelson’s first Living Wage accredited employer. This means Chia Sisters pay all the team, including those on the bottling line, the Living Wage which is 25 per cent more than the minimum wage.
Thirdly, Chloe and Florence began the journey to becoming a Zero Carbon and Climate Positive company. This means the overall activity of Chia Sisters has a positive impact on climate change.
Determined to significantly reduce the company’s carbon footprint, through its own efforts, Chia Sisters utilizes solar power, drives electric vehicles, has installed insulation in place of heating via a hot water system, always focuses on reducing waste.
Chia Sisters has been working with EKOS, a nonprofit that assists individuals and small businesses to calculate and offset its carbon footprint. The process consists of measuring the company’s use of fuels, air conditioning, company vehicles, electricity, mileage, taxis, rental cars, waste, freight, and flights.
In total the company produces 22.55 tons of CO2 in a year, which is offset by 120 per cent through contributing to the planting and maintenance of natives trees in the Rameka Forest, a certified carbon sink in Nelson. Further to this, Chia Sisters is transparent, sharing its carbon footprint online, along with updates on how its tracking.
The next step in Chia Sister’s sustainability journey is a packaging-free beverage option for cafes and supermarkets. Watch this space.