Sounds Good is the weekly podcast that hosts hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers about the headlines we can be hopeful about — and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Being an Imperfect Conscious Consumer

About This Episode

Being an environmentally conscious consumer means shopping smarter, not harder. But with so much information and products in the world, it can be challenging to know where to start making choices that are good for the planet. Thankfully, our guest is doing the good work to help everyday folks make small, but valuable choices that benefit the environment. Laura Wittig co-founded Brightly — an online community and content platform that puts the environment first — to help consumers shop well for themselves and the earth. 

Before she co-founded Brightly, Laura worked in the world of tech: Adobe, Amazon, and Google. She used her expertise to create an online platform to educate people on sustainability. In this episode, Laura talks about how anyone can make gradual steps towards becoming more sustainable in a way that works for them. She also shares what it means to be an imperfect environmentalist that continues to make progress, and how to shed the cycle of unnecessary waste that’s so prevalent in our culture. 


Guest: Laura Wittig, co-founder and CEO of Brightly
Visit Brightly’s website, listen to their podcast, Good Together.
You can follow Laura on Instagram and Twitter.

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Listen to the podcast Breaking Glass at breakingglasspodcast.com/good.

Transcript

Branden Harvey

Shopping sustainably is easier said than done. The world is filled with very real, very bad news about the climate crisis and also a whole lot of misinformation and green washing about how we can help. Fortunately, it's not just you and me that feel overwhelmed about this and even more. Fortunately, it's not just you and me who care about making a difference in this problem. So many of us truly believe that we can make a difference for the climate crisis and that changing our shopping habits can be a part of that even more. Fortunately, I guess one more layer of fortunateness, today's guest is helping all of us on that journey.


This is Sounds Good, I'm Branden Harvey. Today's guest is Laura Wittig, the co-founder and CEO of Brightly. Laura is no stranger to creating things on the World Wide Web. Prior to Brightly, she spent her career building, designing, and creating for companies like Adobe, Amazon and Google. But her true calling came when she used her tech-savvy skills for good by solving global issues like climate change. From there, Brightly was born, and now Brightly is this incredible online community and content platform that puts the environment first, helping everyday consumers make shopping choices for the better of the planet.

I have personally been a fan of Brightly for a long time. Brightly helps their community discover new sustainable brands picked authentically and organically by the Brightly team. They also work to educate shoppers on how to be sustainable through their podcast Good Together, which offers 30 minutes episodes with weekly actionable tips. In today's episode. I loved getting to talk with Laura about the role of conscious consumerism in playing a role in fighting back against the climate crisis, how we can make a small but real choice for the good of the Earth every single day, and how anyone can free themselves from a seemingly endless cycle of consumption and weights.

I also loved two more things we talked about. I just thought about this one. I just loved getting to talk with another founder who created essentially a community platform and a media space that works towards good. It is so good to get to connect with other people. So I've done something that I have been working towards and I think you'll hear that connection and I hope that you enjoy it too. The other thing that we talked about is just the idea that sometimes it's hard when you are one of the only people in your circle who care about making thoughtful choices in your everyday life for the environment.

And Laura had some really good advice. I thought on how you can bring, say, your parents or your friend into the fold and kind of not turn them off in the process. I just love this episode. I thought it was great, so without any further ado, let's just jump straight into my conversation with Laura.

Branden Harvey

I'm just so excited to dive into the work that you're doing to, I guess, fight back against maybe these heat waves through climate change and sustainability. And I'd love to start off just by asking. In a world where so many people are fighting for sustainability, there are a lot of different ways to tackle this problem, and I think all of them are important, and everybody has a role to play. It seems like you've specifically chosen to focus your mission around empowering conscious consumers. Why did you decide that this might be your central focus?

Laura Wittig

That's such a good question. I love it. So you're totally right. There are so many different solutions and ways that we, as human race, can come together to fight back against things like climate change, against negative impacts to the world around us as we know it. But the reason why Brightly focuses on conscious consumerism is because I believe it's something that you can do every day that makes a difference when we add up billions of actions by individuals and it can really empower you. So we definitely need to hold our government accountable.

Right? Like our local, national and international governments and NGOs, activism, all of those things have an awesome place. But when we think about stuff that we can accomplish in small steps in a daily basis, conscious consumerism, for me, is the way to go. And I think it's often a question of curiosity as well. Right. So a lot of people kind of come into the world of conscious consumerism simply by asking the question, Well, where was this product made or what is this product made of? Maybe I'm not crazy about the chemicals that make of it.

And so it starts with a spark of a question, and then it kind of leads into maybe an overhauling of your entire life if you end up going on that path, but really more realistically for most people, I think it leads to small decisions that make a big difference, such as Meatless Monday once a week or choosing to purchase organic-derived laundry detergent, right? There's so many different things that we can do that can collectively add up to a lot of difference.

Branden Harvey

I really like that mentality, because it's one of those things where it's hard to make a big life change, big, huge decisions. But you can just slowly start implementing small changes here and there, and those truly add up. And I've also found that they're super contagious. My wife was way more sustainable than I was, and she started implementing things into her life. And then I liked those things where I started leaning into it. And then I started eating less meat. And then she started eating less meat and the same as kind of spread to our friends. I love that it is a very low-stakes way to make a difference. And it's kind of fun. Like it's almost like a little bit of a hobby.

Laura Wittig

Absolutely. And it's funny my husband all the time will be like, he's huge into hobbies. That's his thing. And he's like, what's your hobby? In addition to running a company, which there's not a ton of room for a lot of hobbies. But for me, it's totally conscious consumerism as well, right? It's discovering new brands. It's having those conversations with friends and family. It's figuring out how to have those conversations with friends and family and not freak them out or make them feel overly judged. I mentioned earlier that I'm originally from Dallas, Texas, and I think a lot of people, whether we think about different regions of this country of the world, don't necessarily live in areas where conscious consumers are activities like recycling or giving back our day to day activities.

We can kind of get really used to living in our bubbles. I'm on the West Coast now. And so when you think about having these conversations with friends, family again, if you can lean back to that curiosity piece that I just talked about, so maybe having an interesting conversation about why you chose to use this laundry detergent, for example, or you can think about what gets them excited, right? So there's always that old kind of stereotype of your dad being cheap. I know that's terrible. But we have all these memes.

And maybe your dad used to yell at you for not wearing a sweater in the house in the wintertime and you complain, dad, turn up the heat. But your dad was kind of accidentally eco as we like to call it back then. So maybe it's a frugality conversation, right. Maybe you can talk to your friends and family about how using the eco-friendly alternative actually is cheaper and last longer. So there's just so many ways we could talk about it. And I think again when we consider the small changes or sustainable swaps so we can do in everyday life, the more we make a difference and the more we don't get paralyzed.

I feel like by climate anxiety, climate grief. I mean, as we record this, we are faced with flooding from a hurricane that took Louisiana and the south by surprise, went all the way up to New York. We're facing continued wildfires over here in the West Coast, in California, there's absolutely a lot going on that's negative in the world when we think of the climate. And so rather than getting paralyzed and kind of wanting to hide under the covers, which, by the way, we all have those days.

So please take that day if you need to. But we can feel empowered by the actions that we take every day. And that's really why we do what we do it brightly. And why I decided to found the company.

Branden Harvey

One thing that also comes to mind is at Good Good Good, we are always trying to drive from our good news stories to inspire action. And sometimes in the newspaper, we do this through a good, better, best situation where good is something that's low stakes and an easy thing to do sometimes like tweet this thing or research this thing or watch this video or you buy this, like make this sustainable swap in your life. And the cool thing about this idea is that then the next thing, the better maybe takes a little bit more time.

It takes a little bit more energy and then the best probably takes a lot more time and a lot more energy. And I don't have an expectation in the world anybody would jump into that third category right away. You've got to start with those small things and those kind of give you the energy and the motivation and the excitement to keep on going and create bigger changes down the road. So it's also a great on ramp to the other action steps that people can take.

Laura Wittig

Absolutely. I totally agree. And I love that you have that we talk a lot about actionable steps at Brightly too, in our community of millions of people who are now interested in what Brightly has to say and what other people like them have to say because we are very community-focused, is also super excited about understanding so yes you're right. These are kind of step changes we can all make together. So I love that Good Good Good does that as well.

Branden Harvey

On a personal level, when do you feel like you first started to care about sustainability and maybe even specifically, that conscious consumerism hobby?

Laura Wittig

Absolutely. I'd say even as a child or at least like in junior high, I was trying to get my mom to go to the only Whole Foods in the entire city because I've always been kind of for better or for worse, very curious borderline sometimes obsessive about the chemicals, I think that go into daily things that we put in our bodies. I was always really interested in the cleaning part of it. Everybody used to see bleach is best type of thing, and you're kind of like, is it really that necessary to be using kind of toxic chemicals around the house?

I've always been interested from that perspective, but fast forward to my first real job, if you will. Out of college was at Amazon, actually here in Seattle, and my husband and I were high school sweethearts, and he went into the Navy. So he actually was a submarine officer, and we were stationed out here close to Seattle. And I thought to myself, I love shopping. I love being online. This is kind of relative early days in the area, not that old, but relatively early days. And I said, I'm gonna go work for Amazon.

So I actually ended up working in their fashion area, specifically focused on email marketing in marketing in general. And I was judged there based on how many shoes and handbags I could sell. I actually ended up running the best marketing program in the company at the time. In terms of conversion, I was really good at it. As in my early 20s, this was something that was really exciting from a career growth perspective. But I started to notice that I myself was acquiring so many cheaply made shoes and handbags and outfits like my coworkers and I would find deals.

So we'd all get the same thing. And it was just kind of like this system where I found my closet overflowing. I also sat in front of the Fashion Editor's closet. And I would get headaches from -- if you've ever opened a new product that comes from, it's made of a lot of kind of noxious plastics, you smell it. And so she had just this big closet full of all these brand new plastic PVC shoes and handbags. And so I actually was getting headaches from sort of those off gassing activities. And I didn't realize at the time I thought I was just stressed out, right?

It was my first job, got a lot going on. So that's kind of what made me stop and think, "Whoa, wait a second. Not only am I myself contributing to a cycle of waste when we think about purchasing things, that's not making me happy, and it's costing me money. And the system is not great." But then I also thought about what I was doing with other people, like kind of feeding into the cycle of purchase, purchase all the time. And so I myself have stepped back and said, I'm going to go the other way and be minimalist.

So I did a capsule wardrobe, which is if you haven't heard of a capsule wardrobe, I highly recommend checking one out. It's just a system where you create you pick a few pieces each season and you can create a bunch of outfits out of it. It's amazing. And I found myself very freed from the concept of endless consumption and waste. So that's kind of when I found myself really interested in the power of an individual to create change through buying things or through not buying things even.

And so I kind of had the idea for Brightly. Then being that I was in Amazon, of course, I was also very in tune to shopping and things of that nature. But I also was really interested in continuing my career in tech. So I then went on to lead social impact search initiatives at Google, which was quite a different experience. But I got to work with crisis hotline operators around the world. I get to connect them to people who were in need of help, which that actually showed me the impact of tech and social good, right?

Like how technology and using these collective ideas that we all have in a creative fashion, how they can really help change a world in a scalable way. And so this is kind of what I thought. "Okay, there's definitely something to conscious consumerism." I didn't call it that at the time, but that's what we're kind of talking about. And there's definitely something to run in a tech company, like a large scalable business around that. And so a lot of people sometimes ask why Brightly or other similar organizations to us, aren't nonprofits.

And for me, again, using a profit-based business to have Wall Street sit up and listen, right? To have a business that's scalable in reaching as many people as possible. I think that's also really exciting. So, anyway, I could talk about this all day long, but hopefully that gives you and the audience a little bit of a preview as to kind of how I got started.

Branden Harvey

Yes, this is super helpful. And I do love that it came from this personal standpoint of, like, oh, this is interesting to me. But you also had this career where you could see this from a different perspective. And I think everybody has that to some degree. They've got things that they notice or that they care about in the world. And then because of their background or their friends or the conversation they've had at their workplace, whatever it is, they're able to see it from a different perspective than others.

And then what I'm curious about is what did that gap between noticing that there was a problem and that it was also not a personal problem, but maybe a systemic problem that needed a scaled solution. What was the gap between noticing that and then deciding, oh, I should be the person to create that scaled solution?

Laura Wittig

Because I was in Silicon Valley, I was very much a part of startup and founder culture. I loved it. I had the chance to go to talks at this place called Y Combinator. If you're familiar with tech, it's kind of the holy grail. So because I was interested in the space, I had the chance to really plug into it. And so I saw peers around me starting companies. I was part of this kind of hustle culture, and it was really interesting to me. But I was also a product manager in my day job.

And product managers in Silicon Valley are responsible for, well, they're basically many CEOs of different features that you would see in tech, right? So if you're a Gmail user, for instance, at Google, there's a few product managers that are in charge of Gmail, right. As part of this bigger company. And so in my experience in that role, I got to really again act as a CEO. I got to figure out how to talk to customers. I got to figure out how to build products. I myself do come from a bit of a technical background.

So I do know how to code and design. So I was kind of like, back here, tinkering, you will. And for me, one thing that really stuck out as a differentiator. And it's something that now we see left and right, like, I think Brightly is pretty new with this idea. We see some competitors talking about this left or right. But that's okay. I want it to be talked about, which is talking about sustainability and eco-friendly living from a nonjudgmental positive perspective, very similar to what you do at Good Good Good.

And as I was doing some competitive research and looking at other people who were other companies in the space who are, for instance, launching an eco-friendly product marketplace, I felt like a lot of the messaging around the call to action was negative. It was like the world needs you. It's burning, help. Or you're eating meat, you're terrible but come join us to eat this meat alternative, right?

Branden Harvey

And kind of gatekeeper-y, too.

Laura Wittig

Exactly. And even the people that I think would put themselves in the bucket, it's being even more eco-friendly. They were getting piled on from other people if they made a mistake. And so I felt like there was a lot of negativity in this space. So at Brightly, we like to talk about this from a very realistic perspective, like you and I were just chatting about earlier, right. In addition to showing up and helping you solve problems through your purchasing decisions or through your research, we like to do it just from a nonjudgmental space.

And we also apply that logic to companies, too, because I mentioned earlier, I really believe in the power of companies small and large to create change. Specifically, think about the society that we operate in right now in the US, right? Capitalist society. If you can get somebody like a Walmart to launch a fair trade denim in which they're in the process of doing, think about the reach of that rather than a small mom and pop shop, which we love. But the amount of resource it would take for that small company to reach the amount of people that Walmart does on a daily basis.

Just it's almost impossible, right? So I like to think about applying that same not overly judgmental thought to these bigger companies. Now, can a Walmart, can an Amazon or companies like that, can they make a difference and do better? Of course they can. And I think the more you're curious and the more we all continue to support fair trade coffee when we go to Walmart for instance, the better. But I've always thought about, like, again, this scalable question, because to me, that's what's really going to impact people in a meaningful large way and in a fast way because you and I both know we're kind of running out of time right to get it together. So let's figure out a way to get it together and do it in a positive way, right.

Branden Harvey

I love that. And I'm always holding that tension with these big brands where I'm like, I will absolutely celebrate when Amazon does something good. But I also want to make sure that I'm not letting them just pretend that that good thing is enough or that it's everything or that it's coming from the goodness of their hearts, because all of these companies are profit-motivated, and that's the opportunity is if we can change the demand, then it changes how they have to operate. And we get such a cool opportunity to scale up positive, sustainable brands because Walmart puts in a big order because more people want it.

And Walmart wants to make more money. That's great. And then that removes shelf space from something that's less sustainable or less ethically made.

Laura Wittig

Exactly. It's the old-fashioned term. They say money talks, right. That's really what gets people to sit up and pay attention regardless of where you are, right. So the more that we can make these companies stand up and listen, the better. And like I said, we actually do. And I'm sure I think Good Good Good does this as well, but we do a series where we highlight what companies are doing in a space on a recurring basis. And so for me, it's really cool to be able to see what's going on there. We also occasionally will rank companies on sustainability-related criteria. We just did one about coffee.

Branden Harvey

I just saw your coffee one. Yes!

Laura Wittig

Yeah.

Branden Harvey

So good.

Laura Wittig

That was really interesting, too. Like we took a few coffee chains that we thought our audience goes to on a daily basis, and we ranked them according to whether or not they had reusable cups available, whether or not they had fair trade or organic coffee available. So we kind of did it from a Brightly perspective. Of course, you can do it from every, like, data intense critical analysis perspective. But we like to think about it more about what are people actually benefiting from and seen on a daily basis.

So again, the more we we can have more information the better so we love it around Brightly.

Branden Harvey

We are going to take a quick break and we will be right back.

Sounds Good is supported by Moon March. Moon March is the agency that partners with causes, campaigns and companies to create a better future. And as you know, I got the chance to work with Moon March on the process of building Good Good Good's new website. And I had the best experience in the world. I think I can speak for the entire Good Good Good team when I say that Moon March was an incredible creative partner because I think many agencies just kind of tell you to trust the process.

And there really isn't a process. But Moon March had an incredible process and really a journey that they took us through. They didn't just you know say, "Hey, okay, cool, we'll build you a website. You need a website?" No, they took us from why do you want to build a website? How do you want to serve your community? How can this platform fulfill x, y, and z roles in your mission to help the world feel more hopeful and help people do more good? And they guided us through that journey.

And I didn't just come away with a new website for Good Good Good. I came away feeling more hopeful about our mission. I came away feeling like we have better tools to support our community. It's such an exciting thing. And of course, I'm not surprised at all because Moon March has an incredible team that they work with. Their team, before creating Moon March had experience working with brands like Nike, Disney, Pfizer, Puma and Google, and I would truly recommend them to anybody if you are a brave soul running a company, cause, or campaign that dares to rethink cultural establishments. Moon March is here to ensure your story earns the participation it deserves.

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Branden Harvey

Maybe we should jump into the very beginning of Brightly when you founded it. What was your first goal? Because I know that companies evolve over time. Good Good Good, I would have never guessed from day one where it would be today. What was your hope in the very beginning of Brightly? And what were those first actionable steps you took to bring this to other people?

Laura Wittig

So my hope was always that my hypothesis around having a judgment free space and one that really allowed people to apply grace to themselves and other people as they went through their eco-friendly journeys was going to resonate with people. And so for us, a really good way to test this out was actually to create a podcast. And so we also have a podcast. It's called Good Together, and--

Branden Harvey

It's great.

Laura Wittig

Thank you so much. I appreciate it. So we launched that in July of 2019, and that was actually my co-founder Lisa and I were still full time at our other jobs, our day jobs. But it was a good way for us to test this. And I'm a big fan. If you're looking to be an entrepreneur and start a company, think about the easiest, cheapest, fastest way you can test your idea before you allow a bunch of time and money into it, because it's going to save you a ton of stress. And it's going to give you some indicators as to if it's going to work. So if you're going to make a physical product, you can start a waitlist.

There's all sorts of things that you can do. So anyway, for us, it was a podcast. And so starting out in July of 2019, my brother actually went to school for audio editing in college. So he was like editing the podcast for us.

Branden Harvey

Use what you have. That's perfect.

Laura Wittig

There you go. It was a very DIY approach. So that was in July. By the time we got in November, Apple had picked us up as a podcast that they really loved and wanted to promote to their audience.

And so that was so exciting. Like, I remember sitting at my desk. I was working at Adobe at the time, and that team was amazing. They were so supportive of me. And I remember just like getting the notification from Apple that they had featured us. And I was at my desk, like, refreshing seeing all these downloads come in and like, oh, my God, what's happening? So it was really exciting, and that continued to happen. So Apple had that feature up for a while. Our downloads and our influence continued to grow.

We started getting more followers. And so for me, that was was a really good indicator that people really were responding well to what we were doing. So we actually made the decision, my co-founder and I did to quit our full time jobs in February of 2020 of last year.

Branden Harvey

Terrifying.

Laura Wittig

Well, I would tell you so literally. Snapchat or Snap Inc. as they're called, now, has an accelerator program called Yellow, and that's for companies that are kind of at the intersection of media community commerce, really similar to what Brightly was trying to do. Accelerator programs if you're not familiar are ways to kind of incubate new businesses. So typically, the accelerator will give you a small amount of money to kind of get the company started, start to make money, et cetera. So we actually got accepted into that program with Snapchat, which was awesome.

And that was like, okay, we're going to be able to take the small amount of money and pay ourselves a tiny amount of money for a few months. We're going to be able to get the company off the ground. And we got into that in December. And so this is kind of when COVID was just rumbling, rumbling, and February came, and it was the very beginning of February. And so I had already set the wheels in motion, quit the job, moved to Santa Monica temporarily, where Snap, Inc. was located.

And we were only there for a few weeks. And then everything shut down because of COVID. So it was a really unfortunate time to be risky in terms of career decisions. But, you know, Lisa and I just kind of looked at each other and said, you know what we believe really strongly in this. We're going to figure out a way to make it work. So we really doubled down on our offering that is Brightly today, right. We have all sorts of amazing media components to what we do.

We partner with brands who we know and love. And so we've really just leaned into it. We were like, failure for us is not an option. It's not an option for us personally, but it's also not an option for the planet. So we were like, we're going to figure out how to make this work. So we did. We've been growing ever since. Like I mentioned, we now reach over 2 million people a day. That is growing by the day. So for us, it's just it's been a long ride.

It's been bumpy, totally. The pandemic threw us for many loops. We're female founders, and we did raise a small investment round. And that was difficult, like, not very much venture capital goes to women. So we had a lot of things, I think thrown our way. But the fact that we've been able to continue to do this and stay positive and stay motivated is entirely back to the fact that we believe truly in what we're doing and the power that it unleashes on behalf of the planet.

Branden Harvey

I just think what you're doing is so important and so exciting, and I hope it's appropriate for me to celebrate this fact. You guys have raised over a million dollars, I believe, for Brightly and well, yes, you guys need a lot more money. That's super exciting, because from my experience, at least, environmentally conscious brands that are focused on community that are women founded are not necessarily the top of the list for investment, but they should be. And so I'm really glad to see that you've had progress on that.

And now that you're getting a lot of attention, well-deserved for it. And I'm hopeful that all of the investors who said no will be regretting their decision very shortly.

Laura Wittig

Thank you so much. And yes, I did say small, and, of course, a million dollars to most is not small. Of course, I'm in this sort of hamster wheel of Silicon Valley. You've seen this craziness going on left and right. But thank you so much for saying that. And I think for us and I actually just gave, there's an interesting podcast I just did specifically about fundraising with a company called Card, so definitely check out that if you're interested in more of our fundraising journey. But, you know, in general, I think talking to investors was so similar to the way we talk to our community and to people who are kind of doubters of what we're doing, right. So my whole thought was like, I need to convince people to come on this journey with us. And if I can't do it in the first, I think at five minutes, they're probably not our people, right. But they probably don't get it. And so I think that's one thing that can be applied kind of across the board, which is we have people all the time, for instance, that might be really hardcore plant-focused in their diet. And that's great, good for them. I love that they've got that that passion in their life.

But if we post about something that is about maybe a meat recipe with some chicken that was locally grown and produced, right, they might get really upset about that, those people. And they might come and they might leave some really negative comments on our Instagram and ask us, why on earth, how could you do this Brightly? Like, what's the matter with you? I feel the same way about talking to people who don't understand what we're doing from an investment perspective. So we as a company have taken the stance of, we understand that we have a broad reach, and we want to continue to broaden that.

However, there are always going to be people who don't agree with what we're doing, and we're okay with that, right? They'll come along eventually, right. Or they can also go live their happy life in another way. But I think having that perspective, of course, was not one that I always had when I had investing conversations. Of course, I was nervous as heck, they are really difficult to go through. You get so much rejection, it can be very mentally taxing. But I think the second I had that mindset shift of being like, you know what? If they don't get it pretty quickly, they're never going to get it. Oh, gosh, it was so free because I didn't focus on the negative, right.

Branden Harvey

I think that's so encouraging because I think about that all the time with Good Good Good. We have gained a lot of followers recently, and the reality is not all of those people are our people, or at least not yet.

Laura Wittig

Yes.

Branden Harvey

And our goal is to serve a particular group of people and help them feel more hopeful and do more good. And if we are serving our community and some people outside of that community don't love what we're doing, then we've got two options. We can either help them join our community or we can say, I'm sorry, there's probably a different community that they can help you with what you need. And we're always here if things change. And that is just so free. And honestly, I think I was just talking about this with a founder of another kind of social good company last week, and they were just talking about how disheartening it's been to kind of face some rejection and especially cynicism.

The cynicism is, I think one of the hardest parts. And she is having that exact same experience of recognizing, oh, my job isn't to please that person. I get to choose who I pay attention to and who gets to stay in my life. And it is such a breath of fresh air. When you can do that. It's like flipping a light switch. And now I'm forever good. I have to continually remind myself of that. But it's so good to hear you're on the same page with that.

Laura Wittig

Absolutely. And unfortunately, we are now in a culture of a lot of very passionate people who are trying to kind of put their opinions on everyone else. And if you don't agree with them, then there's a lot of kerfuffle, a lot of interesting conversations that happen. And so if you as an individual or even as a company, allow every single troll or hater to influence your life or your strategy, you're never going to be able to stand for anything. And so I absolutely believe in having an open in mind and saving space for conversations with folks that are outside of your community bubble.

We all need to do that. We all, of course, need to do better at that, too. But we do also need to realize that you can never be everything to everyone. So just having that mantra, I think, can be really helpful, but it's not easy, right? Our team, one of our sort of secret sauces. I think at Brightly's, we have these discussions and debates all the time internally before anything that we post goes live. And so they're not easy conversations. We debate. It really reminds me of the old school newsrooms, which I kind of wish they do that now instead of focus on click bait.

But that's another conversation. But I think I actually went to school for journalism, and I have a writer's heart and really love that at the core of my being. But I think a lot about critical thinking. I think a lot about debate that I think is missing in the country in the world today. So it's not easy. We're not going to be perfect. But we'll figure it out along the way.

Branden Harvey

As you kind of look forward in the next few years, and especially just in terms of what's happening to the planet. What are your hopes for Brightly and what are your hopes for your community and how they can meet this very unique and challenging moment?

Laura Wittig

So from a Brightly perspective, I want us to continue to be at the forefront of conscious consumerism. So we see ourselves in the business of helping people solve problems in that space. And as we grow and scale as a company, we'll probably be more of that shopping portal for you. So we probably will offer more of those products to you. You're still going to get that same Brightly care and love into the space, but we're going to do it in a different way. We're going to think about let's do away with this fast two-day shipping that's causing insane carbon emissions everywhere.

Let's get consumers to kind of rethink the way that we've been trained to operate from an e-commerce perspective. So that's kind of a big ask. But I believe really strongly when we think about the waste and the impact that that's happening on the planet. We also want to continue to show up and be educational and useful and in service to our community, right. So having these conversations, which is the most eco-friendly coffee chain or thinking about how we can push people to shop more responsibly during the holiday season.

We're really interested in continuing those conversations. And I would say from a community perspective, I would just love to have it grow. And it's not because I'm trying to be this like, I have a community of billions of people. I just want people to be more critical thinkers and again, conscious consumers on behalf of the planet. Like, I want people to show up and say, you know what? Why do I have to get all these random presents for my family every holiday? Like, why don't I create a wish list so that I actually get what I want and I don't have to go return stuff to the store in January because unfortunately, a lot of our returns don't end up where we think they do.

They end up in a landfill, they end up not back on the shelf. There's just so many misconceptions that we have as a consumer, whether it's that or recycling or the more that we learn, the more that we can try and adopt different behaviors. And so that's my greatest hope. And then I hope that our community continues to come back to Brightly, continues to come back to places like Good Good Good, for more of this information, because it's the old phrase like knowledge is power. And I think as we become more educated as a consumer base, I think the plan is just going to continue to benefit positively.

Branden Harvey

I am 100% with you. And in terms of you mentioning wanting to grow and to reach a lot more people, if you believe the way you're doing actually helps people like you would want to shout it from the rooftops. And I'm really glad you are, because, frankly, it has been really helpful for me. And of course, so many other people as we kind of close out this conversation, you mentioned at the beginning of the show this idea of like helping kind of change some of the ways that our friends or family think about sustainable living and conscious consumerism.

And I'm wondering if you have a closing encouragement or piece of advice for people who are baby struggling to do that in a tactful and helpful way. What's the best way to make sure that environmentalism doesn't just stop with us? But it continues to impact the people around us.

Laura Wittig

Yes. So my main tip for this is show up in the way that that person responds the best, too. So if your friend is really into fashion and she is obsessed with going to fast fashion like Zara, H&M, Pickett. And she's kind of used to this throwaway cycle, if you will, rather than going to her and saying H&M is terrible, they have bad wages, they're really not good to their workers, blah, blah, blah. And going on from that perspective, it's important that we know this right. But your friend, because she loves that company so much, might not really respond well to that.

She's going to feel like you're attacking her personally. One thing that you can do is showcase an awesome outfit that you just put together from a thrifting app or from going to the thrift store and saying like, Look, I look awesome. You can too. You can thrift this outfit and you can do it in a way that's better for the planet. And it's probably going to be cheaper for you too. It's fine, whatever that is. Or maybe you're going to get a unique look that no one else can get.

Everybody else is in this fast fashion look, and they all look the same. But if you want to have a look that's similar but unique, then you can go thrifting. So just like that's one example, right? You can think about, like, we talked about earlier, frugality. When you talk about things with your parents, a lot of our parents are boomers. And I think a lot of boomers care a lot about local businesses and thinking about their neighborhoods and the impact that they have locally. So just thinking about whatever way your friends or family show up from a passion perspective, you can entail your message that way and also be vulnerable.

Say, like, hey, I know I just told you about all this thrifting stuff that they do, but, hey, I actually like to go to H&M myself, too, every once in a while and just letting them know that you're not this perfect person and that we're all in this journey together because that was one thing. When I started this company, I did not want to start a company where I felt like if I was spotted in a grocery store that wasn't 100% organic, like, let's pretend there's like a paparazzi and they took a picture and they're like, look, the CEO of this eco-friendly company, and she's shopping for something that's terrible for the environment.

I never wanted to be in a situation where number one, hopefully I don't ever have paparazzi. That's terrible. But number two, I would not want my community to feel disappointed in me if they saw me doing something like that. I'd want my community to be like, well, she probably tried to find it in a better way, but she couldn't. Who knows? There's an emergency. She's got to go pick up an extra outfit or something. So I think I I just wanted to not live with that kind of anxiety over myself.

And I would never want that for my community members. So that's another piece to it, too.

Branden Harvey

That's Laura Wittig, CEO and co-founder of Brightly. You can find out more about their incredible work by heading over to their website. It's brightly.Eco. Yes, it's like dot eco, very cute, very fun. And you can also listen to their podcast about how to be a conscious consumer, it's called Good Together. You can find it wherever you listen to podcasts. Don't forget to follow Laura on social media @lauralexwit, she's on Twitter and Instagram and of course, follow Brightly on social media. Oh, my goodness.

I love their TikTok so much. I told Laura after the show. Please tell whoever runs your TikTok that she is amazing, and I love everything she creates.

This podcast is created by Good Good Good. We help you feel more hopeful and do more good. You can find more good news and ways to make a difference in our weekly email newsletter, our beautiful print Goodnewspaper, or online at our all-new website, goodgoodgood.co. This episode is created by Sara Li, Megan Burns, and me, Branden Harvey. It was edited and sound designed by the team at Sound On Studios. You can find out more about their work at soundonsoundoff.com. Make sure to hit the follow button wherever you listen to podcasts so that you can get a new episode of Sounds Good delivered straight to your phone or your computer or tablet or whatever you do, your Apple watch -- I don't know -- every Monday while you sleep. If you have a favorite episode of the show, if you love this episode, share it on your Instagram story.

Just go to Spotify, that little share button to make that cute little pop up preview. And of course, you can also view the full episode show note and an entire transcript of this podcast at goodgoodgood.co/podcast. And with that that is the wrap of this week's episode. Go out and find one way to make environmentalism more inviting for someone in your life and we'll be back next week with more good news and good action.

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Episode Details

September 13, 2021

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Sounds Good is the weekly podcast that hosts hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers about the headlines we can be hopeful about — and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Every week, Good Good Good founder Branden Harvey sits down with the people driving positive change against the world's greatest problems. Each episode will leave you with a sense of hope about the good in the world — and a sense of direction on how we can all be a part of that good. Episodes are released every Monday.

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