Waste = Wasted Opportunity for Change

Crann Goods Ltd.

7. Affordable and Clean Energy 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

The company has taken several steps to address environmental issues, such as eliminating the use of harmful chemicals, lowering carbon footprints, assisting the nation in economic growth, increasing employability worldwide, and so on. We have chosen four UN SDGs and described how Crann contributes to a more sustainable world.

UN Sustainable Development Goal Work of Crann

UN SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth: The company produces the products in Asia but only collaborates with ethical factories that treat their employees well, showing that the company's owner cares about economic growth and that the production process is ethical and humane.

UN SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities: Crann collects waste materials such as stainless steel, plastic, and wood from households and transforms them into fashionable sunglasses and watches. This helps families in waste disposal and promotes sustainability in cities and communities.

UN SDG 12 – Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production: Crann creates timeless sunglasses and watches made from 100% recycled materials such as stainless-steel PE plastic and wood that otherwise most likely would have ended in a landfill or polluted the seas. By using materials that are already existing instead of further exploiting the earth, the company doesn't add to the environmental cost while remaining trendy and fashionable. The company has a lifetime warranty on all the products; this policy further reduces excessive production and consumerism.

UN SDG 13 – Take Urgent Action to Combat Climate and its Impacts: The company donates €2 from every sale to the Native Woodland Trust. The organisation focuses on the maintenance of the woodland estate, leading to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Author

Conor McHugh

Conor McHugh

School

Dublin City University Business School

Dublin City University Business School

Professor

Gavin Brown

Gavin Brown

Innovation

Glasses and watches are not innovative products on the market; however, the production process by Crann is a very creative and forward-thinking process. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree in the National College of Ireland, Eoin McGuiness, the owner of Crann, decided to take a gap year after selling his previous Marquee Hire company, McGuiness Marquees. Eoin moved to Thailand and taught in a local Thai school during this period of his life, and it was here that he was exposed to a different approach to sustainability and recycling. This life-altering period changed his perspective on the environment and the direction in which our planet is heading. The use of sustainable products and the attitudes of the Thai people towards sustainability became the basis of Eoin’s inspiration for a business venture.

“I suppose a part of me changed while I was over there. I was watching people being way more conscious of what they were using. And I don’t just mean that in terms of what they’re consuming, I really mean by what materials they were using, how they were crafting, what were they making things out of”

After Eoin returned to Ireland, he decided to join the tech industry by securing employment with Qualtrics. However, he now had a longing to find a job with more purpose and meaning, something that would make his future children proud. Thus, he decided to start his own business in Ireland, applying all the knowledge he gained during his time abroad.

Eoin was always a big fan of watches, ever since he was a little child; thus, a progression into fashionable accessories came naturally to him. This led to the creation of Crann, a brand of watches and sunglasses with a focus on blending sustainability with function, style and design. The brand is also concerned with reducing carbon emissions during transportation, with one of Crann’s big goals being to manufacture 80 per cent of his products in Ireland and other European countries. For the Product delivery, Crann collaborates with DPD to lower carbon emissions through the cars. The DPS courier uses an electric vehicle to deliver the products.

Crann also finances clean energy projects all over the globe. Currently, the lack of expertise and high cost of production in European countries forced the brand to carry out the production process in Asian countries. Eoin also made packaging simple by avoiding the usage of plastic.

Waste = Wasted Opportunity for Change

Inspiration

In the interview, Eoin's stated that his main idea behind the business is "turning waste into fashion". During his stay in Thailand as a high school teacher, he observed that people were more cautious about what they used, how the products were crafted, and what materials were repurposed in the production process. In Thailand, most products were based on wood and recycled materials. He also noticed that government initiatives were to collect plastic products and pay people for recycling them. He was fascinated to see a developing country like Thailand performing better in using sustainable materials than a developed country like Ireland. This time in his life provoked thoughts for him on the amount of excessive consumerism taking place in the world.

During his career as an account executive in Qualtrics, he acquired marketing, business, sales operations, and customer support skills. Finally, in 2018, he decided to follow his passion and launch his own fashion brand for watches and sunglasses, with sustainability the prime motive.

McGuinness admired Patagonia’s business model and adapted some of it. He keeps out business offers that do not comply with his business motive, sustainability. “Around 4 per cent of world’s waste materials are contributed by fashion brands. I am trying to do better for the environment”, he said. He also believes that the world does not require more products but more solutions to solve the existing problems. So, his creations are wholly made from recycled and sustainable materials to solve the problem of waste that damages our planet.

Overall impact

Crann wants to showcase to the world how businesses can be built sustainably. Keeping this motive in mind, McGuinness tries to provide a few solutions to solve the waste management problem through his company.

Crann collects waste from households and transforms them into fashionable sunglasses and watches. Homes often find it challenging to dispose of their plastic waste in proper ways, and these, in turn, end up in landfills or the ocean. To solve this problem, Crann collects stainless steel, PE plastic, and wood from households and converts them to workable materials to make their products. This initiative helps maintain clean and sustainable cities and decreases water pollution.

Crann also minimizes the formation of new waste materials. The production process uses 100 per cent recycled and recyclable material to avoid creating new waste materials. Also, they have a 90- day return policy and offer a lifetime warranty for the products purchased. They charge only a restocking fee, a minimal amount, and send the customer a new pair of products or repair the broken one. Therefore, customers are assured with quality products which they can use for a lifetime. They also have simple packaging, mainly using recycled materials to avoid the usage of plastic.

Crann also promotes afforestation through its partnership with Native Woodland Trust. They donate €2 for each product sold in the market. McGuinness considers this a small step to safeguard our planet from drastic climate change, one of the world's top concerns. He is also trying to manufacture more products in European countries to decline carbon emissions during the transportation and shipment of products.

McGuinness also believes that he could influence some businessmen in Ireland and other European countries to focus on sustainability. He also impacted customers to think about the product they buy and provided them ways to be responsible consumers. The customer reviews on its e-commerce platform and the RSVP Magazine award 2019 give us evidence for this. Eoin aims to inspire people by appearing on different podcasts, such as the Book of Leaves podcast, where he made an appearance in May 2021. He is also launching his sustainability podcast later this year.

Business benefit

Eoin McGuiness rightly said that the concept of a start-up company is firstly based on revenue generation. Making money out of the business model, which is purely based on sustainability, is a bit difficult, but in the long run, it can be beneficial. It usually takes around 3 to 4 years for a company to find the correct balance of focusing on sustainability whilst making enough profit to be successful. Before setting up Crann, Eoin took inspiration from the book ‘The Responsible Company’ co-written by Yvon Chouinard, founder and owner of Patagonia, which states how a business can run sustainably and still make a profit.

During the initial stages of the business, Eoin started implementing his ideas which were mainly focused on sustainability goals. For him, there are two potential paths when starting a business: sustainability or profit. Most firms choose the path that leads to the business process being solely about making money. The second path leads entrepreneurs down a much different approach, one of ethics and sustainable practices. Eoin chose the latter, which led him to create products that were deemed waste to the society and out of which, he made a product that defines the market trend in the eyeglasses and watches industry. As a company, they tried to look for raw materials at cheaper rates and, if at all possible, also looked for free material. However, the manufacturing process is costly, and as was previously mentioned, takes place in Asia. They avoid using plastic for the packaging, which enables them to maximize the eco-friendly products used from the start of production to the end product.

Eoin McGuiness is firm with the idea of sustainability. Eoin hypothesizes that mission plays a crucial role in such business as if a clear mission is absent, firms cannot enter the sustainability market. Eoin often posed the following question to his colleagues at Crann: What does Crann mean to you? The answer he hoped to receive was something surrounding the concept of sustainability. Fortunately, the most common response he received typically incorporated some interpretation of trying to do better for the environment. Certain potential partnerships have arisen but as a company focused on sustainability goals, Crann had to refuse lucrative deals as these retail companies do not match Crann’s mission.

“One of the hardest things for me to do as a founder is I have to say no to retail companies all the time that want to stock our product. And I say no to them because they don’t have the same mission statement or concept that we have. I can go in, I’ve been asked by many fast fashion brand, and other gift style businesses that have been trying to stock our products and no, my answer is always no because what they’re trying to focus on is too much on making money and less on the actual environmental practices”.

These retailers are mainly profit-centric and less interested in environmental practices. For Crann, sustainability will always come first. As the founder of Crann, Eoin feels good waking up in the morning and knowing that the people working with him have the same mission, drive and ambition for the company as he does.

By focusing his firm's operations on ethics and sustainability, Eoin ensures that every employee on the books of Crann and involved down the supply chain is fairly compensated for their work. He hopes that giving employees proper wages for their living leads to a healthy, happy life for everybody involved at Crann. Ultimately, looking after employees can only increase employee retention. This gesture showed by Eoin McGuiness towards the employee wellbeing can boost the productivity and the performance and help improve the employee morale.

Due to Eoin’s dedication to the business mission, the company is currently in a position where they have got several people working for Crann, which can significantly influence what they do every day to scale and spread awareness about the product.

Social and environmental benefit

Having spoken to Eoin for only thirty minutes about his innovative sunglasses and watches, and his enthusiasm for their influence on the environment and nature shone through. Minutes before he checked in on our Zoom call, Eoin had been walking on a beach in his hometown in County Sligo in Ireland to connect with nature for the day. For Eoin and Crann, sustainability is not just a business but a way of life, and for Crann to be successful, he must practice what he preaches. As already mentioned, although Crann aims to manufacture their products in Ireland by 2025, they currently manufacture their goods in Asia. However, to ensure Crann are still impacting the drive for sustainability in Ireland, they have pledged a donation from every purchase to the Irish environmental non-governmental organisation, Native Woodland Trust. Crann has committed to sustainability throughout its supply chain, from the raw materials used in the creation of the products down to the packaging. They have a philosophy that they must take the responsibility away from their customers and embrace this responsibility themselves. This is vouched for by the OECD (2001) research, which created the Extended Producer Responsibility Approach (EPR). This approach places more significant responsibility on producers, both financially and physically, to improve the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products. For example, Crann’s packaging is made from recycled and sustainable materials; however, it also doubles up as their mailer to limit any opportunity for potential waste. Additionally, Crann offers a lifetime warranty on all of its products and don’t allow the customer to throw their product away as waste. They see this as a wasted opportunity for change.

Although the work of Crann mainly impacts the environment, it also has a modest impact on society as a collective. During our interview with Eoin, he told us about an anecdote from 2018 when he set up a stall for Crann at Electric Picnic, an annual arts-and-music festival held in Stradbally in Ireland.

“When I started the business back in 2018, when we officially launched the business, I did Electric Picnic. We had a stand at Electric Picnic, and I’d say one in every three people thought I was crazy. And genuinely, thought I was nuts. I was driving back to, I’m from Meath, so I was driving back from Sligo to Meath at the weekend and I counted in an hour how many ads were talking about sustainability. So out of the 10 ads…7 of them had focuses on sustainability. And that, if I was jumping in the car and driving to Stradbally in 2018, there wouldn’t have been one ad on the radio about sustainability”

However, there have been huge strides in promoting sustainability in the last three years in Ireland, and subsequently, societal changes have occurred here and globally. This societal change over three years is evidenced by Eoin’s weekly drive back home from Sligo to Meath, where he listened to an Irish national commercial radio station, and seven out of nine ads had a sustainability focus. This would have been unfathomable for Eoin in 2018 when Crann commenced its venture. Are Crann naïve enough to think that this societal change has occurred solely because of them? Certainly not. But have they helped some people think more about the products they buy, their quality, and their purchase volume? The answer is a definite yes. The awareness was definitely created by Crann. To address climate change, Crann has developed tactics such as partnering with the DPD to deliver items using electric cars. The nicest thing about Crann is that they do business with other companies who share their commitment to sustainability and to contributing to the nation's economic progress.

Interview

Eoin McGuinness, Managing Director at Crann Goods Ltd.

Photo of interviewee

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Crann Goods Ltd.

Crann Goods Ltd.

County Meath, IE

Business Website: https://www.crann.co/

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Eoin McGuinness is the founder of CRANN Goods Ltd., an Irish sustainable fashion brand specializing in sunglasses and watches. The brand focuses on expanding sustainable fashion trends. CRANN uses 100 per cent of its materials from recycling, such as metal and wood. It also offers a lifetime warranty.

The company focuses on contemporary environmental issues the world is experiencing, such as minimizing plastic usage while keeping economic development in mind. Because plastic usage is ubiquitous in this business, it is essential to discover an environmentally responsible way to limit or eliminate the use of plastic while maintaining the current trend. The firm uses Acetate plastic, often known as Bio-Plastic. With a focus on sustainability, RSVP magazine awarded Crann's product the 'Best Sunglasses of 2019', a significant honour for the brand. The brand is increasingly concerned with environmental and business challenges, and they are working hard to overcome them. The goal is to develop an environmentally sustainable product that is also in line with current fashion trends.