6 Questions with Christina Bellis, CEO of Thankyou Payroll and conscious consumer!

We're connecting with Conscious Consumers from across New Zealand to ask 6 questions and find out who they and learn more about how they think we can all change the world for the better. Register your values and payment cards and help us grow the Conscious Consumers movement here! 

 

1. Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?

I'm Christina Bellis. I originally hail from Canadian lands, been in Aotearoa over 10 years and have been working towards positive change in the social, environmental, and enterprise worlds. I'm currently the CEO of Thankyou Payroll, a social enterprise with offices in Dunedin and Wellington, offering free payroll intermediary services to charities and SMEs around the country, and giving a proportion of revenue back to the community via Thankyou Charitable Trust.

2. What does conscious consumerism mean to you?

To me, conscious consumerism means having a consideration for the things one acquires, and making sure they match ones values as much as possible - or at least that they don't directly oppose them. We can't always know the exact conditions of where or how something is made, but with information so accessible these days, it's not hard to find out a baseline amount. Conscious consumerism is drawing conclusions from knowledge that directly influence ones purchasing power. For example, palm oil is associated with the destruction of rainforests which in turn is threatening the survival of orangutangs - conclusion, avoid products with palm oil. However, palm oil isn't always labeled as an ingredient, which is where conscious consumerism becomes difficult.

3. What are the most important social and environmental problems you think businesses can help to solve?

Businesses interact with most parts of society and can therefore have positive impacts on a number of things. I think the most important thing is to set your business up with social and environmental responsibilities threaded through it. For example, having supportive and holistic health policies, like mental health and family violence leave for employees, offer better outcomes for people, and also open the space to talk about it, which is really important. In respect for the environment, having low impact procurement policies, and looking at how to mitigate or reduce emissions, and offset where you can't. It's not the biggest emitter, but a pet peeve of mine is seeing the lights illuminated on every floor of our office buildings when there's no one in them.

4. What do you think consumers can do to have a bigger influence in our world?

I think consumers need to consume less - which can sometimes be pretty hard with lifestyles and habits and with marketing thrown at us telling us to buy! buy! buy! Purchasing things second hand is great, and if you can't find it, have patience until you do. It's like, if you can't find cookies that don't have palm oil in the ingredients, then don't buy any cookies! Don't settle for the lesser of the evils, just go without. Or better yet, make your own cookies!

5. The last time you made a ‘conscious’ purchase decision - what did you buy and where did you buy it from?

I think I make conscious purchasing decisions all the time, but a big one recently was for home renovations. Half our house has laminate flooring and the other half was carpet. I recently ripped up the carpet and discovered original Matai flooring which was exciting. I also found a large area where a number of floorboards had been replaced with chip board. The easiest thing to do would be to put new flooring on top - and laminate was the cheapest. But I knew there was an environmental cost that wasn't being included in that cheap price. The next step up was a bamboo flooring - double the price, but much more sustainable. So I bought boxes of that, dragged them all home, looked at the floor and decided to go the hardest route instead which was to rip up the chip board and replace the floor boards. So I returned the bamboo flooring, and headed to the No. 8 Building Recyclers in Lyall Bay where they've got a ton of Matai floorboards taken out of old houses (among millions of other household joinery and plumbing bits, etc). It was a conscious and the best decision, not only as it restored the charm of the old house, but because it was reusing an existing product that came from within the region (at least in its last house!) and didn't come with any packaging. I also recognise that many things that uphold certain environmental ethics tend to be more expensive and in order to 'put my money where my mouth is' I need to make some sacrifices. Buying the recycled floor boards meant our next 'holiday' was a working staycation to rip up chip board and figure out how to lay flooring!

6. What consumer-oriented technological change are you most excited about seeing in the future?

Hugh (TYP's founder) has mentioned dog translators which would be pretty cool considering most of us have dogs at Thankyou Payroll!! But that breakthrough aside, I'm pretty excited about the consumer-oriented changes we're making to Thankyou Payroll's latest software. Things like an employee kiosk which gives more freedom to employers, and more accessibility for employees will be great. And native mobile so the platform has a greater functionality and performance on our mobile devices. These tech changes are making our dev's pretty excited to be building, and I'm pretty excited to soon offer them to our clients!

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Thankyou Payroll is a New Zealand based software business that is growing fast. They are currently open to new shareholders via PledgeMe equity crowdfunding. If you're interested to learn more - check it out! 

 

Register your values and payment cards and help us grow the Conscious Consumers movement here! 

Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant Make The Change to Free Farmed Pork

Written by Lucinda Staniland. Lucinda is a freelance writer and the editor of The Yoga Lunchbox.

Southern Cross Garden Bar Restaurant is a true stalwart of the Wellington dining and social scene. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed countless coffees at its cosy tables, attended community gatherings and birthday parties in their function rooms, celebrated special events with drinks in the courtyard, and danced the night away to local bands.

But there’s much more to the Cross than good coffee, tasty food and a reliably awesome atmosphere. Behind the scenes, Southern Cross is actually an undercover Conscious Consumers superstar.

Yup, that’s right, over the years Southern Cross has been awarded a truly impressive number of the Conscious Consumers operational and product badges—BYO, Composting, Eco-packaging, Recycling, Supporting communities, Organic, NZ made, Carbon Neutral, Free Range, Vegetarian/Vegan and Fair Trade—the Cross is seriously onto it when it comes to their operational and product standards.

Southern Cross have an impressive assortment of Conscious Consumers operational and product badges.

Southern Cross have an impressive assortment of Conscious Consumers operational and product badges.

Attaining and maintaining such high standards takes work, what’s the motivation behind it all?

Tim Clarke, Strategy & Development Coordinator at Southern Cross says that it all comes down to the values that drive the business—when you’re values-driven, constantly upping your standards is an obvious and straightforward decision to make.

“We’re quite proud of our accreditation,” says Tim, “It does take time to accumulate all the necessary information to apply for each badge, but our feeling during the reaccreditation process was simple: if it’s achievable, we should try and become accredited for it, which is what we did.”

And they’re not stopping there. Southern Cross has just made another move towards better business by switching to Free Farmed pork.

Tim says, “Animal rights have always been something that the owners have felt strongly about, and after some research last year it became clear that we could be using a supplier that better aligns with our values when it came to pork.”

This process began when Southern Cross went through a re-accreditation process with Conscious Consumers and were surprised to discover that their free-range pork supplier, who was Pig Care accredited, couldn’t be approved by Conscious Consumers for the Free-Range badge. This kick-started a deep-dive into the intricacies of the pork industry.

What they discovered was that, “There is no legal definition of what constitutes “Free-Range” in the pork industry. There are only guidelines & best practices available to farmers & suppliers to follow.”

With assistance from Conscious Consumers, Southern Cross further investigated the difference between free-range and free farmed pork and searched for an independently audited supplier that they could trust.

They felt that Freedom Farms was the best option because, “As best as we could tell Freedom Farm's ‘Five Freedoms’ are well monitored and most importantly, independently audited by AsureQuality,” says Tim, “so we’re not just taking the farmer or suppliers word for it, it’s actually been independently verified to a high standard.”

Making changes like this entails effort and compromise.

The team at Southern Cross put a lot of time into untangling the complexities of the pork industry, looking for a trustworthy supplier, and training staff to be able to communicate the change to customers. Southern Cross also had to change the cut of bacon they had been using, not a big deal, says Tim, but it still involved a shift from the norm.

There were some unexpected bonuses though: “Surprisingly, the cost of the Freedom Farms pork was actually less than our previous supplier,” says Tim, “that’s always a bonus when making changes, especially when they’re the moral choices, they tend to go in the other direction and be more expensive.”

Southern Cross are a great example of a thriving, values-driven business—exactly the kind of business that the Good Spend Counter encourages and supports.

They do what they do well—make great coffee, run gigs, serve yummy food—and they are constantly striving to do it in a way that respects people, animals, and the planet.

When you register your values and your payment cards with Conscious Consumers’ Good Spend Counter, you let businesses like Southern Cross know that you support their good work and the effort that it takes to make positive change.

Have you joined Conscious Consumers yet? It’s free, completely secure, and takes less than two minutes. What are you waiting for?

Want to feel great about chocolate? Join Conscious Consumers and win!

Wellington Chocolate Factory are a Conscious Consumers accredited business with 9 of our badges. The team at WCF are pioneering amazing practices for ethical, sustainable chocolate production and we’re really proud to be able to support their work.

WCF.jpg

Join Conscious Consumers before Friday April 28th, pop #WCF into the referral box and you’ll go in the draw to win a $100 voucher to enjoy some of the very best (ethical!) chocolate that money can buy.

Click here to sign up. https://goo.gl/MG0OJb


You can find all the nitty gritty on our Wellington Chocolate Factory competition below:

 

Competition period: The competition runs from Tuesday April 18th 2017 to 11.59pm Friday April 28th 2017.

How to enter: Sign up to Conscious Consumers via countmein.nz. Enter #WCF in the referral box. One entry into the draw per signup.

You agree: By entering, you agree to be bound by and comply with these terms and conditions.

Who can enter: This competition is open to all New Zealanders aged 18 and over. Employees and contractors of Conscious Consumers or Wellington Chocolate Factory and their immediate families are ineligible to enter.

Winners: 1 winner will be selected through a random draw on Monday May 1st.

Prize: Winner will receive a $100 voucher to be spent at Wellington Chocolate Factory.

Announcement: Conscious Consumers will notify the winner by emailing them on the email address used to register with Conscious Consumers.

No correspondence: Conscious Consumers’ decisions in relation to this competition are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Facebook release: You acknowledge that this competition is run by Conscious Consumers and not Facebook. You agree to release Facebook from any claim or liability in relation to this competition.

Cancellation: Conscious Consumers reserves the right to cancel this competition at any time by posting a notice on our Facebook wall.

Privacy: When collecting personal information Conscious Consumers complies with the Privacy Act 1993. You can contact us about privacy by emailing director@consciousconsumers.org.nz

Extension: Conscious Consumers reserves the right to extend the competition period by posting a notice on our Facebook wall.

How can your values change business behaviour?


Why your money matters

Our work at Conscious Consumers is to make sure every single dollar you spend helps to vote for the kind of world you want.

Why? Businesses have huge power (and responsibility!) to make a positive impact on our environment and our society. The decisions they make can change what ends up as pollution and waste, how animals and workers get treated and how local communities get supported.

As consumers, our money fuels these businesses. When we spend money we are voting for that business to exist, to grow, to thrive. We are voting for their supply chain, we are voting for the decisions they make about how the treat their workers, how they deal with their waste and how they support the communities they depend on.

In short, if we like it or not, every time we spend our money we are voting for the world we are living in.

This is why we want the money you spend to represent your values. We believe it’s critical that businesses big and small recognise consumers beyond the money they spend. We want your values to help drive business decision making.

This is why we want the money you spend to represent your values. We believe it’s critical that businesses big and small recognise consumers beyond the money they spend. We want your values to help drive business decision making.

How can do we do that?

It’s actually really simple. We have created a platform that connects business decision makers with the values of all consumers that spend money with them.

As a consumer you just need to register your values and the 16 digits of your spending cards. Then, when you spend money at any Conscious Consumers business, your values will be represented with every dollar you spend.

It’s free, takes 2 minutes and totally secure. We don’t hold your card data, our technology works directly with existing financial infrastructure that manage EFTPOS transactions and simply signals to businesses that every dollar you spend comes with values attached.

You can sign up here.

We even support an app that connects you with vouchers and rewards from accredited conscious businesses.

Who is listening?

Conscious Consumers works with a growing list of businesses big and small who are actively seeking to improve their social and environmental impacts.

Our insight businesses from across different sectors of the economy, get to view the values of consumers and we support them to improve their practices.

Our accredited businesses have been confirmed to meet our strict, transparent standards and given a badge to signal they operate to a certified standard.  

Check out the full list of our businesses here. Our work is to help grow this network of businesses and ensure your values help influence business behaviour. 
 

The movement is growing.

We launched our Good Spend Counter platform in October last year, and in just 6 months thousands of kiwis are sending a message to hundreds of businesses across the country.

They’ve already spent over $600k, and every single dollar is directly signalling to business owners what they care about.

The good news is, it’s just good business.

We are already seeing the positive impacts for business owners who embrace the values of their consumers and improve their businesses. They have happier, more engaged workers, they generate less waste, they use better quality, ethical suppliers, they have loyal advocates as customers. In short, they grow and thrive because they listen and they care.

In the future we believe there will be two types of businesses.

  1. Businesses that are conscious of their consumers values and make good decisions accordingly.

  2. Businesses that are ignorant of their consumers values and make decisions based on money and profit alone.

We know that building the business case for positive change isn’t easy, and the changes are not immediate but the work starts by ensuring your money speaks for your values. Together, our values can ensure that conscious businesses grow and outcompete those that are ignorant to what their customers care about.  

Have you joined us yet? Are your values being made visible? It’s free, totally secure and it takes less than 2 minutes. Sign up, give your values a voice and help choose the world you live in.

5 Compelling Reasons To Care About The Good Spend Counter

Written by Lucinda Staniland. Lucinda is a freelance writer and the editor of The Yoga Lunchbox. She is passionate about food, words and living well.

 

Why should I care about Conscious Consumers’ Good Spend Counter? In a hectic and overwhelming world, I ask myself these kinds of questions on daily basis. 

I’m the kind of person that cares. I make an effort: I recycle and compost; I practice yoga daily; I buy local, free range food; I ride my bike and take public transport; I read and write voraciously about the issues that fire me up.

But I can’t care about everything. So when I heard about the Good Spend Counter my thought process went something like this—There are so many businesses, apps and organisations calling out for my attention, why should I pay attention to this one?

You might be wondering what the Good Spend Counter is. In fact, it’s a very simple creature. The five steps below sum it up nicely.

  1. Choose the issues you care about.
  2. Register your credit cards and EFTPOS cards.
  3. Spend at registered businesses (businesses that do good, or want to do good).
  4. Your spending motivates businesses to do good.
  5. You get free things.

Sounds pretty good right? But for me, just knowing how the Good Spend Counter worked wasn’t quite enough to convince me that I should care about it, or that I should devote some of my precious time and energy to signing up. I needed more; I needed to see proof that the Good Spend Counter mattered.

And then I found my evidence. Five compelling, relevant reasons why the Good Spend Counter matters, and why I’m saying count me in.

1) It makes your values visible (to businesses that care)

Let’s take an everyday example: you decide to go to Southern Cross Restaurant and Bar for an evening out, because you know that they are committed to only using free range meat. You know why you chose Southern Cross over the rest of the Wellington restaurant scene, but they have no idea.  

As far as Southern Cross know you chose them because you have a weakness for their delicious stone grills, or because you saw a good review on Tripadvisor. Your values are invisible to the business that you have chosen to support, and even though you care, they don’t know that you care, and they don’t know what you care about.

The Good Spend Counter radically changes this dynamic and transforms your values into a powerful force for good.

Now, without any extra effort on your part, you can let the businesses that you support know a) That you care, and b) What you care about. This information motivates businesses to truly embody the values of their customers and to make decisions that are in alignment with what their customer's care about.

2) It transforms consumerism into something empowering and impactful.

While our individual spending may be small, together conscious consumers have spent over $500,000 since the Good Spend Counter launched in September 2016.

In my own experience, being a consumer isn’t an empowering experience. The word originally referred to, “one who squanders or wastes,” and while its modern usage has shed some of its initial negativity, it’s still not an inspiring experience to be labelled as, “a person who purchases goods and services for personal use.”

The Good Spend Counter changes all this. When you sign up to the Good Spend Counter your consumerism becomes powerful. How? Because now every dollar you spend contributes to large-scale and lasting changes for good. Your individual consumerism becomes our collective purchasing power, a power that supports and motivates businesses to change for the better.

3) It motivates businesses on the edge of change to take the next step.

The Good Spend Counter sends business on the edge of change the message that they need to hear. The message is this: Consumers are more than just dollar figures—consumers care, and what they care about matters.

No business is perfect, but every business can improve. Some of the businesses on the Good Spend Counter are accredited—meaning that they have fulfilled Conscious Consumers' accreditation standards—but others are not. These businesses are not yet able to meet the standards, but they are passionate, curious, and, most importantly, they recognise that what consumers’ care about matters, and they are working with Conscious Consumers to improve their practices: We call them Insight Businesses.

Insight Businesses are where big, truly transformative change is possible. Among our Insight Businesses are big fish, like Z Energy, Kathmandu and Green Cabs. When consumers start to influence big businesses like this, in the mainstream economy, our purchasing decisions start to have powerful and far-reaching impact.

Insight businesses are businesses on the edge of change, and they need support. The work that needs to be done is hard. Committing to being a business that does good for people and planet is not quick, easy or cheap work. It’s a brave and risky choice to make. 

When you add your voice to the Good Spend Counter, you are directly supporting the people who are willing to take risks, like the team at Mexicali Fresh who, since joining Conscious Consumers, now only purchase free range meat to use in their tasty tacos and burritos. 

Your spending sends businesses like this a powerful message—that you care!— and gives them the information and motivation they need to up their game.

4) It’s not just about your morning cup of coffee

The Good Spend Counter isn’t just about hospitality businesses; it’s relevant to every aspect of your life. Conscious Consumers began as an accreditation system for hospitality businesses, but it has since expanded (and is continuing to expand) to include a wide range of businesses and suppliers.

So now, when you buy a pair of yoga pants from WE-AR, sign up with Meridian Energy, purchase a new jacket from Kathmandu, call a Green Cab, shop for gifts at big high street brands, pick up groceries at New World or fill up with petrol at Z energy, every dollar you spend can be transformed into a vote for better business in New Zealand.

No matter where you are, or what you’re doing, you can contribute to the Good Spend Counter, and to the better world we know is possible.

5) And yes, you get some free stuff too.

This makes it in at #5 because for me it’s not a core motivating factor for caring about the Good Spend Counter. But it’s certainly a nice bonus: Fancy a $2 coffee in your BYO cup? How about two for one vegetarian meals? Or a free side salad with your main?

These freebies are a great opportunity for businesses to showcase the awesome work that they are already doing, and for us conscious consumers to treat ourselves to some guilt-free goodies. 

As for me, I did it! I signed up to the Good Spend Counter and I’m so glad that I did. It was a simple, straightforward process, and now every dollar I spend communicates my values to businesses that care. I’m not a lone consumer anymore; I’m part of a powerful movement for better business in New Zealand.

When we live in such saturated environments, both online and offline, it’s hard to find and pay attention to the things that really matter. I’ve come to see that the Good Spend Counter is like a jewel shining through the noise and dust of contemporary life: it matters, and it needs to be cared about. 

So go on, pick up the jewel. Sign up, and transform your spending into a vote for a better world.

Welcoming Meridian Energy to Conscious Consumers!

We’re delighted to announce that Conscious Consumers has partnered with Meridian Energy to help grow the movement of kiwis that are using their wallets to help choose the world we live in.

Our work at Conscious Consumers is founded in the belief that everyday consumers and ethical businesses have the power to transform the world we live in.

Meridian Energy is New Zealand’s largest electricity generator, and holds the same values we do. Working with great businesses like Meridian sends a great signal to businesses and consumers across the country that our values can make a difference.

meridian lockup

New Zealand’s first accredited power company.

Meridian has been awarded four Conscious Consumers badges for recycling, composting, eco-packaging and supporting communities.

* Composting and recycling diverts an estimated 13,200 kg of organic waste and 12,500 kg of recyclable waste from landfill every year.

* Online invoicing and bill payments eliminates the consumption of over 3 million items of paper every year.

* Through their social and environmental community funds and principal sponsorships, including KidsCan and the Kākāpō Recovery Programme, Meridian gives an estimated $1.5 million each year to help those in need.

meridian badges


These positive steps represent just the beginning. Most importantly, Meridian are now listening to the values of all Conscious Consumers signed up to the good spend counter.

Using your wallet to give your values a voice.

By combining your everyday spending with your values on our good spend counter, we can ensure the money you spend sends a message about what you care about to businesses big and small across the country.

Thousands of kiwi consumers have registered their values and their spending cards and as a result over $500,000 of values-based spending has been recognised already!

As our membership grows our collective ability to influence businesses and decision makers grows stronger, in turn improving their environmental and social impacts.

Click here to join us and help your money make a difference.  

 

Kathmandu stepping forward

What you care about can change the way businesses operate.

We believe businesses have a big part to play in making our world fairer, cleaner, safer and better for everyone.

As a consumer, you are powerful. By making conscious choices about where you spend your money you can help change the world for the better.

At Conscious Consumers our mission is to ensure your values matter to businesses, just as much as your dollars. We want to see a world where your values and what you care about helps to inform business decisions and change the world for the better.

Kathmandu steps forward and listens to customers.

We’re stoked to announce that Kathmandu is part of a growing group of businesses in New Zealand who have joined us as an insight partner. These businesses are listening, celebrating and -most importantly- taking steps to make improvements and changes based on what their consumers care about.

Now, when you join Conscious Consumers and shop at Kathmandu, you’ll be seen as more than just a dollar figure. Every dollar you spend will be giving your values a voice.

Over the past 2 months, 176 Conscious Consumers have shopped at Kathmandu stores across the country and spent $20,979.43 in participating Kathmandu stores. Making these dollar figures visible is the very beginning to businesses changing their practices to better align with consumer values.

What do these Conscious Consumers care about?

KMD

As well as promoting responsible travel, Kathmandu are very transparent on how they measure and reduce waste. They recently implemented soft plastics recycling into seven of their stores in New Zealand as part of the new plastics recycling program. They also have a customer clothing donation program for unwanted clothing which they then donate to the Red Cross. You can read more about waste in the retail sector on their website.

 

Widening our reach, and your impact.

NZ is full of business leaders who understand that the ‘conscious economy’ is already here, and that it’s time to take it seriously.

We’re working with a growing list of businesses big and small across the country who genuinely care about engaging with their customers values. We’re working to help these businesses make practical steps towards changing their practices and improving how they work - starting by listening to what their customers care about it.

If you haven’t signed up in Conscious Consumers yet - do it today. It's free, 100% secure and takes just a couple of minutes. When you register with us we ensure every dollar you spend sends a message to these businesses about your values.

Give your values a voice and help choose the world you live in!

 

Win this month with Kokako!

Let’s grow the movement of Conscious Consumers changing business for the better.

Great news! When you help your friends and family sign up to Conscious Consumers before March 31st and you’ll go into the draw to win a year of specialty coffee with a subscription from Kokako!

It’s easy to win!

  1. Send your friends to Countmein.nz

  2. Get them to put your email address in the ‘who referred you box’ when they register.

  3. Every friend you refer will get you an entry in the draw for a year of delicious Kokako coffee.

WIN this March with Conscious Consumers and Kokako!

 

Haven’t signed up yet?

Register your spending cards and give your values a voice today! Register here

Win this month with Kokako coffee

Our friends at Kokako have built their business championing sustainable processes, Fairtrade relationships with their suppliers and supporting local communities - as well as of course, delicious world-class coffee beans. They roast their own specialty blends and Single Origin coffee in Grey Lynn, Auckland - pop in and visit Mike, Olivia and the team at their cafe 537 Great North Road, next time you’re in Auckland!


The nitty gritty on our competition:

Competition period: The competition runs from March 1, 2017 to March 31, 2017.

How to enter: Refer a friend to sign up to Conscious Consumers via countmein.nz. Get them to enter your valid email address in the referral box. Each referral will earn one entry into the draw.

You agree: By entering, you agree to be bound by and comply with these terms and conditions.

Who can enter: This competition is open to all New Zealanders aged 18 and over. Employees and contractors of Conscious Consumers or Kokako and their immediate families are ineligible to enter.

Winners: 1 winner will be selected through a random draw on April 3rd, 2017.

Prize: Winner will receive a 12 month subscription including shipping to their address.

Announcement: Conscious Consumers will notify the winner by emailing them on the email address used to register with Conscious Consumers.

No correspondence: Conscious Consumers’ decisions in relation to this competition are final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Facebook release: You acknowledge that this competition is run by Conscious Consumers and not Facebook. You agree to release Facebook from any claim or liability in relation to this competition.

Cancellation: Conscious Consumers reserves the right to cancel this competition at any time by posting a notice on our Facebook wall.

Privacy: When collecting personal information Conscious Consumers complies with the Privacy Act 1993. You can contact us about privacy by emailing director@consciousconsumers.org.nz

Extension: Conscious Consumers reserves the right to extend the competition period by posting a notice on our Facebook wall.