The power of the reusable glass bottle with Caren McNamara

Did you know that 75% of glass bottles in the US end up in landfills?

Did you know we are facing a serious glass shortage?

Have you ever stopped to think about the carbon footprint of a glass bottle? And how easy it is to decrease it?

Today I’m chatting with Caren McNamara, Founder and CEO of Conscious Container, a benefit corporation bringing the refillable glass bottle marketplace back into the US economy.

Something that is desperately needed – from a supply chain, environmental, and financial point of view.

We talk about how and why Caren went from working at IBM, to creating a start-up, and living out her life’s mission.

We hear about the surprising challenges she’s faced along the way.

And the next phase of this exciting adventure.

Caren has seen and experienced a lot on this journey, and she shares some beautiful insights on this episode. And leaves us with so many nuggets of incredible inspiration.

So grab that favorite beverage or throw on those running shoes, and enjoy this chat with Caren.

00:00:02:04 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving light around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:01:01:11
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed. Hello and welcome to episode 38 of TIE Unearthed. Today I’m speaking with my friend and powerhouse social entrepreneur and change maker Caren McNamara, founder and CEO of Conscious Container, a benefit corporation bringing the refillable glass bottle marketplace back into the U.S. economy. And today, we’ll be talking about the incredible power of this reusable system.

00:01:01:12 – 00:01:29:07
Philippa White
Now, many of you will probably remember years ago that the return and re-use of glass bottles was common practice. However, when convenience began to dominate the messaging around packaging, this went straight out the window. Some countries have returned to the reuse system, but the US seems to be well behind the curve, meaning that 75% of glass bottles end up in landfills.

00:01:29:18 – 00:02:01:16
Philippa White
Caren is doing everything in her power to change this. Today we talk of the vital importance of this reuse glass system. We touch on supply chain issues, the impact on carbon emissions and the financial benefits. We hear of the surprising challenges she has faced along the way and the exciting next phase of this game changing adventure. You will get goose bumps listening to this episode, so grab that favorite beverage or throw on those running shoes and enjoy this chat with Caren.

00:02:04:06 – 00:02:10:24
Philippa White
Hi Caren. It is lovely to have you with us today. Thank you for joining TIE Unearthed. How are you?

00:02:11:00 – 00:02:14:13
Caren McNamara
I am doing well, PHILIPPa. So wonderful to see and hear you.

00:02:14:17 – 00:02:28:01
Philippa White
Yeah, it’s so great to see you as well. It really is. It’s wonderful to have you here. Tell everyone, please, before we get into conscious container and everything. I just love you to please bring to life you in your background.

00:02:28:12 – 00:02:29:23
Caren McNamara
All right. Where to starts?

00:02:29:23 – 00:02:30:09
Philippa White
Yeah.

00:02:30:18 – 00:02:52:06
Caren McNamara
So what’s. First of all, thank you so much for inviting me into this forum. I love what you’re doing and what TIE represents. It’s so aligns with me personally, and I love listening to your podcast, so thank you for the invitation. First of all, and just a little background. So I was born in California, in San Francisco, raised in Northern California.

00:02:52:07 – 00:03:19:10
Caren McNamara
I grew up in let’s just truth be known in the sixties in a small rural town. And and I have two other sisters. My dad is from the UK, my mom is a native San Franciscan and really had a lovely childhood and upbringing. One relevant point to what I’m doing now is when I grew up, my mother was always talking about doing reuse.

00:03:19:10 – 00:03:41:24
Caren McNamara
So we had a garden. She had nonfat dry milk, which I couldn’t stand, but because she would reuse the containers. And so the environment that I was brought up in, it was fairly rural and really it was a lot about not wasting things and we always had to have leftovers. And sometimes it was like, Oh my God, Mom, you know, another another leftover evening.

00:03:42:00 – 00:04:08:09
Caren McNamara
So I grew up in Northern California, got married. I have two boys, two young men. Lovely. They’re lovely. Lovely. And as I got into my career, I worked in various jobs while the kids were younger. When they’re when they’re busy growing up, you really can’t travel a lot. But I eventually started working for IBM at one point, and that was a 20 year journey.

00:04:08:10 – 00:04:27:15
Caren McNamara
It allowed me a lot. It allowed me to travel, work with all different kinds of sectors and clients that I really did project and change management for them. And it was was really a lovely and insightful journey. Really. Northern California is my home. Always has been. I do love it here. I live up in the mountains now. Yeah, it just snowed.

00:04:27:17 – 00:04:36:14
Philippa White
You mentioned IBM, 20 year journey. I thought it was 18, so it’s a long time. What was the catalyst then to jump ship?

00:04:36:19 – 00:05:01:17
Caren McNamara
Actually, I didn’t jump ship. What happened was I was working on I would work on projects. And this particular project, project and change management is typically overhead. And so they laid off a whole group of us. And I have gone through this once before with IBM and they give you an opportunity to interview within the company. But I said, you know, it’s time to go.

00:05:01:20 – 00:05:30:05
Caren McNamara
Kids are off the payroll, as I say. And I had already started on this conscious computer journey. The other piece of that was the previous five years, both my parents had passed away and they were one of my greatest inspirations, both of them. But they had left my sisters and I a little money. So I said, okay, one door is closing, the other one’s opening, and let me go see what I can do.

00:05:30:07 – 00:05:59:18
Caren McNamara
That allowed me the space to go through that transition. When you work for a large corporation, you have everything. You got your salary. You got your benefits. You get your stock options. And after I left, I realized how much they actually had provided for me for those 20 years. So very grateful for that time. And the timing was really a bit divine in that I had already started to turn the wheels on what this whole cognitive container idea.

00:05:59:18 – 00:06:01:02
Caren McNamara
And so away I went.

00:06:01:08 – 00:06:15:24
Philippa White
So what would be interesting business? Let’s back up a little bit to 18 years into IBM and you’re working there. But something triggered something happened that you thought, hold on a second, I’m going to juggle this in a full time job. So, I mean, what happened there?

00:06:16:00 – 00:06:40:17
Caren McNamara
That’s a really great question. I do distinctly remember I have traveled around the world and seen returnable, refillable systems. They’re everywhere except in the United States. Seriously, I’ve seen these systems and I’ve often wondered, why don’t we do this here? And I do distinctly remember throwing some glass bottles, whether they’re peanut butter jars or mayonnaise jars, wine bottles in the refillable container and going, Why are we doing this?

00:06:40:17 – 00:07:00:12
Caren McNamara
These are perfectly good containers and wherever that place was, and that was still while I was at the end of that IBM journey, I said, Well, why are we doing this? And what can I do about it? And the other piece in my head was, Well, this is really great, Caren, but I have no idea about how to start a business, how to run a business.

00:07:00:12 – 00:07:22:17
Caren McNamara
I have no experience in these ecosystem things that I’m talking about. So what was brilliant was locally there’s small business development centers. It’s a program throughout the United States and even in our small town here in Truckee, they had a class three where you can go and they really take they bring local experts in on marketing and how to start a business and entrepreneurship.

00:07:22:17 – 00:07:41:14
Caren McNamara
And you can go a ton. And then at the end, they choose several of the companies to go into a pitch competition. So I thought, here we go. Let me just dove in and figure this out. It was fantastic. It really helped frame what it was that I had to go do, even though I didn’t know everything that was okay.

00:07:41:14 – 00:07:56:19
Caren McNamara
And those resources remained a support system for me as I moved forward and I actually made the short list for the pitch and there were five companies and it was the first time I pitch and speaking was not my thing. I definitely developed that skill a bit more, but I got up and totally froze.

00:07:57:03 – 00:07:57:17
Philippa White
Speaking.

00:07:58:07 – 00:08:15:07
Caren McNamara
And it felt really terrible to like, I was just I lost my way completely, although when I went back to look at it and if my partner David said it didn’t sound as bad as you felt it was, but I totally froze on the stage. It took me a little while and I said, okay, I have a lot to work on in this space.

00:08:15:11 – 00:08:33:02
Caren McNamara
That really gave me the confidence and the insight to begin to start that process of starting a business. So I started at about the beginning of 2015. The course came about and while I was in the courses when when IBM went through that series of layoffs.

00:08:33:07 – 00:08:34:19
Philippa White
Serendipity is such a funny thing.

00:08:34:21 – 00:08:37:09
Caren McNamara
Absolute. Absolutely. Absolutely.

00:08:37:09 – 00:08:59:24
Philippa White
So extraordinary how the stars start to align. And in retrospect, you look, you think, okay, the universe was telling me something. You know, that’s extraordinary for our listeners because obviously they will have heard the intro to Conscious Container, but bring to life what this is and what was it and where have things evolved to?

00:09:00:00 – 00:09:19:11
Caren McNamara
It’s been an amazing journey. I started, like I said, in 2015. Then as I went through that course and then left IBM or they they let me go, so to speak, which was fine, I said, okay, I don’t know anything about this category. And what I learned in that course is you need to go through some due diligence.

00:09:19:11 – 00:09:43:23
Caren McNamara
That’s usually your first step in regards to if you’re going to create a business, you need to have the background or you need to go do some due diligence. So that’s what I spent a year doing due diligence, looking in the beverage industry. I went to conferences, I sat on calls about recycling and with syllables and looked at industries and really allowed myself that space to understand what the marketplace looked like here, what it looked like around the world.

00:09:43:23 – 00:10:04:17
Caren McNamara
And there’s always kind of those milestones where you take that big next step. And so I moved into 2017 and Earth Day was coming up. I looked at Dave and I go, My partner, I said, That’s it. I need to incorporate and launch his business on Earth Day. So that’s exactly what I did. So I went and figured I went to a legal guy new in town and as we incorporated, we incorporated as a benefit corporation.

00:10:05:05 – 00:10:31:17
Caren McNamara
And what that means is that corporations, at least within the United States, whether you’re a seer, an S corp, you are bound by making all of your key business decisions based on profit. They’re shackled, but in a benefit corporation, the leadership team can balance decision making between benefit and profit, whether that’s environmental benefits, social benefit, right. But what was important for me, for right from the get go, I had the opportunity just make a statement about how we do business.

00:10:31:17 – 00:10:51:06
Caren McNamara
Because what this journey has opened up for me is what we’re doing is very important and we’ll talk about the refillable system, but how we do business is how things are going to change and this benefit corporation gives us the upper to the platform right from the get go to follow that vision and that mission.

00:10:51:09 – 00:11:05:07
Philippa White
And I love that how we do business is how things are going to change. I could not agree more private sectors and if everyone has that as the mission of how you do business, then of course things will get better.

00:11:05:12 – 00:11:20:13
Caren McNamara
It allows the business to make those decisions here in the States. Patagonia has always practiced that. Yvon shivered, started the business. He would make decisions on certain items, even though it didn’t show profit. He’s going to. It’s the right thing to do and he would go do it.

00:11:20:14 – 00:11:25:15
Philippa White
So just again, backing up a little bit. So if you can, what is conscious container?

00:11:25:20 – 00:11:50:16
Caren McNamara
So conscious container is a business that collects, washes and resells refillable glass bottles at its core. This system exists, this business system exist around the world already. It did exist here in the United States. It went away. But the value propositions that have occurred over the five years I have been building this now are so powerful to get this business rolling.

00:11:50:16 – 00:11:55:21
Caren McNamara
I mean, I can’t begin to tell you the transition that the marketplace and the environment and just the.

00:11:55:21 – 00:11:57:09
Philippa White
Whole talk to us about that.

00:11:57:11 – 00:12:28:01
Caren McNamara
I’ll start at the top. And again, these systems exist around the world. So there’s a lot of data around how they operate and really the customers, our customers are beverage and food manufacturers, folks who package and we are focusing in the beverage category, specifically the wine category for a variety of reasons and I can talk about those. But really what it boils down to is a refillable glass bottle has an 85% lower carbon footprint than a single use glass bottle.

00:12:28:02 – 00:13:00:11
Caren McNamara
Now, this is in a mature system. It has a 70% lower carbon footprint than a single use bottle, and it has a 57% lower carbon footprint than a single use aluminum can. So out the gate refillable bottles from a carbon emission perspective trump all other substrates. So the environmental value proposition is huge if you take it another step further for beverage and food producers in particular, beverage first of all, this bottle will cost them less money over time because it’s circulating.

00:13:00:11 – 00:13:13:04
Caren McNamara
Right. And this is a this is proven. That is why Coca-Cola invested $400 million in their pet returnable system in South America, because these systems have a gross margin in them.

00:13:13:09 – 00:13:13:17
Philippa White
Yeah.

00:13:14:01 – 00:13:18:11
Caren McNamara
And they are. They are. This is all volume. There’s a lot of bottles that have to come through your system.

00:13:18:17 – 00:13:24:08
Philippa White
The other piece. So just really, really quickly, how many is it? Eight. How many times can a bottle be reused?

00:13:24:18 – 00:13:48:08
Caren McNamara
So you’ll hear different numbers out there. The challenges note there’s no real data on this. And actually we’re going to innovate in that space. But typically you’ll hear people say 15 to 25 times. I think really where based on the on the research we done is about 8 to 15 times then where the CO2 footprint and economics really balance out best is probably about eight turns for that bottle.

00:13:48:20 – 00:13:49:03
Philippa White
That sort of.

00:13:49:03 – 00:14:12:12
Caren McNamara
Thing on average. The other pieces that are our real drivers and I think this is evolved over the past five years I’ve been working to create this marketplace essentially, is that the consumers are saying enough, right? Consumer demand. And I give full credit to David Attenborough when he put Blue Planet out there seriously and showed the world the plastics problem.

00:14:12:12 – 00:14:42:18
Caren McNamara
So everybody knows about plastics in the ocean problem. Right. So consumers are going enough already. And what’s happening here in the States and in other Europe is a leader in this is that what’s happening is producers are becoming mandated legislation says you are responsible for your end of life packaging because now it’s just you and I are paying for when when that package goes wherever if from a waste perspective the other drive this is a driver where these producers know what’s coming down the line.

00:14:42:19 – 00:15:05:18
Caren McNamara
They are going to have to pay for that end of life packaging waste. And what I often say about what a refillable container represents and is that it’s not waste, it’s an asset. So a lot of what I try to do is kind of change the narrative because this package is not waste. And what that says to a producer and they know this is coming, we have had enough conversations.

00:15:05:18 – 00:15:27:15
Caren McNamara
I mean, I’ve talked with all the big global producers is they know what’s coming. And this is a way to minimize the risks of the mandated packaging legislation. And so they all know that and see the real benefit of that. And then the last thing is the drivers in the marketplace and we’re all experiencing this around the world is we have supply chain challenges.

00:15:27:20 – 00:15:49:03
Caren McNamara
Yes, right. I mean, it’s front and center everywhere around the world. And it here in particular in United States, a good portion of our glass that comes in the United States comes over from Asia into California. And the cost of those bottles and the backlog of supply that’s sitting out there in the Pacific Ocean off the coast has raised costs.

00:15:49:14 – 00:16:10:20
Caren McNamara
We’re hearing the cost of goods is 3 to 10 times as much. And so the supply chain of glass in particular is constrained, so much so that we even before we’ve turned on our business, which is at the beginning of of 2022, where we’re going to turn on the washing operation. We are getting calls for glass. Hey, do you guys do have glass, especially in the wine industry?

00:16:11:00 – 00:16:25:11
Philippa White
And actually I think just really, really quickly so for our listeners because obviously I know kind of where you’re at, but Conscious Container has not launched yet. You’re in the funding stage, is that right? Maybe just bring that and then we can talk about 2022.

00:16:25:14 – 00:16:47:10
Caren McNamara
Yeah, we we have that formally launched the business. We were in an accelerator program with Anheuser-Busch. They invited us in and we ran an accelerator. It was very much delayed because of the pandemic in 2020. So we ran that accelerator program earlier this year. Quite frankly, the results weren’t as good as we would have wanted. The consumer insights side was fantastic, but we didn’t really get those results.

00:16:47:10 – 00:17:11:18
Caren McNamara
So what we did is we stepped up our capital raise and we’re looking to close out our seed round that at the end of this year. And we’re getting very, very close to doing that. So with that, we will launch the business at the beginning of of the year and the capital raise was again, there’s all these ecosystems that I dropped into and that was another one that I’m very comfortable for the most part talking about it now.

00:17:11:23 – 00:17:13:13
Caren McNamara
But that was a journey in itself.

00:17:13:14 – 00:17:14:06
Philippa White
The capital.

00:17:14:10 – 00:17:37:18
Caren McNamara
Raising, raising kept female founded. We don’t have a sexy app in the front end, although we’re partnering with others. On the consumer side, we’re manufacturing heavy CapEx because this equipment is literally millions of dollars. And so it’s just been a really interesting I think I’m going to I we could do a whole podcast on female founded working with venture capital.

00:17:37:18 – 00:17:43:09
Caren McNamara
I mean we California we sit right in the middle of that ecosystem, right so anyway, that’s a whole a whole nother part of the journey.

00:17:43:10 – 00:17:48:16
Philippa White
I can imagine. I can imagine. Where do you see all of this and kind of what’s the vision?

00:17:48:19 – 00:18:08:11
Caren McNamara
So startups running like starting up a business and even in business there’s been a lot of pivoting back and forth as I’ve traveled this journey. We started out in the beer category, quite frankly. Beer has moved to aluminum cans and so so we did a little bit of pivot. The gentleman I brought in as our president actually stood up a wine bottle washing operation here in California.

00:18:08:21 – 00:18:36:14
Caren McNamara
He made a very bad bottle washing machine buying decision. It it failed right out the gate and it was late. So we had to shut down that opportunity to to actually start it. So one thing that’s been really interesting is if you think about it, wine makers are farmers at heart. They work with the land. And if anybody in any industry is absolutely out front in regards to sustainability and actionable sustainability, it’s the wine makers.

00:18:36:17 – 00:19:01:11
Caren McNamara
And you can see this all around the world. They get it here in California, they see it literally. And the wineries, we’re sitting right in the heart of the California wine region, our business businesses launching in the San Francisco North Bay, and they are putting sustainability standards out there and commitments and targets that are far exceed any other industry as far as I’m concerned.

00:19:01:11 – 00:19:28:14
Caren McNamara
So they get it and they know that the last mile is the carbon emissions in a wine bottle. So any time I sit or moderate on panels in the wine industry about sustainability and I’m called in quite a bit these days, is the glass. The question that looms over is what are you going to do about that 18 to 30% CO2 footprint in that one in the glass bottle?

00:19:28:19 – 00:19:52:02
Caren McNamara
So the largest portion of the carbon emission in a in a bottle of wine is in the manufacturing of the glass alone. And so we say to that they’ve been trying to lightweight that’s only 4%. But when you look at a refillable bottle, I gave you the statistics earlier is it just trumps it. And so they are all saying we need to move into a returnable system here.

00:19:52:14 – 00:20:12:03
Caren McNamara
And so we have the most sustainable winery there, fairly large here in the North Bay. They are going to be working with us. We are also going to be we’re going to be launching a pilot. They are they’re going to also do a test market with one of their brands in India, Sysco North, but they are the world’s largest is fantastic.

00:20:12:03 – 00:20:25:24
Philippa White
And so that that means that you will be looking after the glass container part of the process, the operations. And so they’re looking at the wine and you come in with the glass and the ability to refill it.

00:20:26:21 – 00:20:49:10
Caren McNamara
Right? So we’ll we’ll eventually probably be selling refillable glass bottles. But what we’re going to be doing is as we launch the business, which is going to collect the actual the wastage bottles used in the wine industry, which is about 1.5%. So we’re going to grab those bottles instead of going to recycling. A portion of those are going to be washed and refilled and sold to the secondary marketplace, which is absolutely screaming for glass.

00:20:49:10 – 00:20:53:22
Caren McNamara
Right. They’re already reaching out to us. Say, hey, do you have glass bottles? Yeah, right now.

00:20:54:06 – 00:21:25:02
Philippa White
Yeah, that is fantastic. Talk to us about the sort of the surprises and challenges that you faced in this journey. You touched on a few of them. I mean, even just female founder and you sort of through that, it could be a whole podcast, good and bad, but maybe you can touch on them just because our listeners, you know, we have such a mix of people who are really passionate about the environment, passionate about gender equality, passionate, you know, they might be entrepreneurs.

00:21:25:12 – 00:21:32:20
Philippa White
I think it’s just really interesting to hear from someone who has been you know, you’ve been doing this for a while now and you’re we’ve seen a lot.

00:21:32:20 – 00:22:02:23
Caren McNamara
It has been an absolutely amazing journey. And I have grown as an individual throughout this process for the for the challenges and for the high notes and the low notes. Right. As you go through this, some interesting things have appeared during this process. So in all transparency, I started this journey at 55. I’m 61 right now. I said I’m going to give myself ten years to do this because I wanted to allow that space and I had no idea what I was getting into.

00:22:03:00 – 00:22:31:05
Caren McNamara
And what’s interesting is I have two adult boys now. One of them’s kind of in the startup industry. The other one is is a computer science engineer. And what’s been really interesting is watching my children watch their mother, who really should be retiring at this point, start working in a startup, trying to get this going and their concern at first like, how are you going to pay for things?

00:22:31:05 – 00:22:51:24
Caren McNamara
Obviously, I had a little bit of a safety net with some money. My parents had left my sisters and I. But watching them really begin to transition and looking at me as more of an India of the individual right and how the two of them, even my older one, still says, when are you going to go get a job, mom?

00:22:53:04 – 00:23:17:07
Caren McNamara
But my other son, who’s startup, he actually started to ask questions about what I was doing because he’s familiar with the startup. He’s worked on several of them, and so actually offering advice and asking a lot of questions. Have you thought about this? You’re watching me go through that process when that’s not maybe the normal thing for your 60 year old mother to be working on.

00:23:17:17 – 00:24:05:02
Caren McNamara
So I think that that has been really insightful watching them and myself go through that transition and that you can do anything at any age. And I keep saying with Fortune magazine, do we have the 60 over 60? Yeah, right. I really enjoyed that personal transition with them. I think one of the the challenging thing is, as you know, is moving with the ebbs and flows and looking back at yourself and being a leader and how you need to lead by with your team, science, inspiration and and listening and being humble, also inspiring them and keeping them moving because my team is working on sweat equity and so how do I used to call it

00:24:05:02 – 00:24:25:12
Caren McNamara
at IBM when I would manage project is managing without authority, right? I would be managing people who didn’t report to me. And so that’s how I navigated through all of that. The ups and downs. Yeah, there’s definitely been that’s been a really I’ve learned so much about myself.

00:24:25:12 – 00:24:30:12
Philippa White
Yeah. Now you talk about you needing to be inspiring for your team. Who inspires you?

00:24:32:01 – 00:24:54:18
Caren McNamara
Well, as I said, my parents are really probably my biggest inspiration. And my mother was way ahead of her time she to get married till she was 29. She had a masters from UC Berkeley. She wanted to be a journalist. She was a journalist all through her younger life. When she got to Berkeley, they said, well, women aren’t journalists can’t get a masters and that you can go be a teacher, an English teacher.

00:24:54:18 – 00:25:19:05
Caren McNamara
She was an English. It ended up being an English and French teacher, but she was so far ahead of her time and just a real inspiration. And she made sure that my sisters and I, that we did go to college. And she understood that because her she went through some challenging things with her parents. And she was she felt education was really important for women to make sure you were self sustainable, so to speak.

00:25:19:14 – 00:25:41:01
Caren McNamara
And and there was a whole lot of other things that my father was from, from, from Britain. He was from Liverpool, he’s a Scouser and he grew up extremely poor. And he left home and he was in the British army for a while and traveled around the world and then he said, I want a better life. And so he emigrated through Canada, actually into the United States, and met my mom in San Francisco.

00:25:41:07 – 00:26:05:00
Caren McNamara
And that’s where they got together. And I just always admired his sense of adventure. And that’s definitely deeply instilled in myself, and particularly when I traveled to the UK for the first time in 1972, I just blew me away and forever. Then I was just inspired by travel and people and different ways of living and thinking and to be very open minded.

00:26:05:00 – 00:26:26:06
Philippa White
So I can relate to that because of my accent. North American. But I also have my family in the UK and I as well just, I just always I felt such a connection to the UK the whole time growing up and whenever, you know, I lived in Canada, but I have to say my heart just always felt there were South Africa in other places as well.

00:26:26:22 – 00:26:33:00
Philippa White
Yeah, I mean, we’re coming to the end of the podcast. Is there anything else that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

00:26:33:00 – 00:26:55:14
Caren McNamara
This whole journey and life’s journey? I believe very strongly in trusting yourself and trusting your intuition. I have traveled this whole this my whole life in particular. It’s come into play as I’ve been building and starting up this businesses is really allow yourself the time and space to be guided. I don’t always have the answer. A lot of times I don’t.

00:26:56:08 – 00:27:22:23
Caren McNamara
But just staying open and creating space for what’s next, you know, don’t hang on to your I’ll have a really challenging day where someone comes back and says, Hey, we’re not going to invest in you. Or whatever it may be is to feel that, allow that to pass through, but then let it go. This is a bit a journey about constantly letting go so you can allow the right things to come in.

00:27:23:07 – 00:28:01:23
Caren McNamara
And I believe very, very strongly in following your hearts and listening to what is important to you and discovering as you go along that journey and especially as women in this world. I IBM was very much a man’s world when I knew that whole corporate structure is we need more space to allow for creativity and allowing intuition to guide us and to really, you know, I sit sometimes I’ll have a bad point and I’ll just sit quietly for a little bit and allow that to pass through so that I can continue with really what the larger vision is.

00:28:01:23 – 00:28:42:06
Caren McNamara
I mean, our vision, a conscious container is a world of we use economies and cultures. That’s the vision and you’ll never achieve that vision. But that’s where your north north stars send. One of my favorite other pieces is, and I saw this quote, it was from Jane Fonda, who was definitely an activist in her own right, is coming into conversations with people and be interested not interesting ask questions and that this whole journey has been about me asking the questions, being very authentic and people I cannot begin to tell you some of the how people have supported me.

00:28:42:07 – 00:28:59:06
Caren McNamara
I have felt so supported because I come to them authentically and I don’t know this or can you help me with this? And that part isn’t amazing. When you come with an open heart and authentically we’re trying to do the right thing that the universe just opens up.

00:28:59:06 – 00:29:21:18
Philippa White
God. I mean, I’ve taken a lot from this conversation listening to you and I’m thinking, Yeah, absolutely. And the importance of just stopping. I do need to do that work 100%. I really need to do that sort of to young children at home and kind of trying to sort of slut everything and running off to sort of karate class or whatever that you’re like, Oh God, I need to do this.

00:29:21:18 – 00:29:46:22
Philippa White
And it’s that time to just reflect. We need to make that time. You do, because like you say, you know, there’s so many ups and downs running your own thing and particularly in the space that should be a priority, which the future of this planet and it should just be so obvious, but it’s so much harder and you need to have that resilience and you need to have that self-belief.

00:29:46:22 – 00:30:04:23
Philippa White
But the resilience but also that love and the sort of, okay, pick myself, just keep going and thank God for people like you that are doing it because there’s obviously a business case for it and there’s an environmental case for it and it just makes sense. And so it just needs to happen.

00:30:05:02 – 00:30:14:19
Caren McNamara
Absolutely. I listen to the the the first hour opening of the COP26 session in Glasgow and David Attenborough. I would invite everybody to go take a.

00:30:14:19 – 00:30:15:03
Philippa White
Look.

00:30:15:13 – 00:30:41:01
Caren McNamara
At that man and how he what he’s done and how he brings forward the fact that it’s now and we need to we need to move forward. And he is a big inspiration to me. Yeah, he’s 95 years old. He gets up on stage, no notes. It’s just absolutely inspiring. And I look for those inspirations because he is so spot on and you can go do it.

00:30:41:01 – 00:30:47:03
Caren McNamara
It’s resilience about resilience, like you said, and take them as learnings, not failure, not failures.

00:30:47:03 – 00:31:08:10
Philippa White
Richard Jones, who is definitely going to be listening to this at some point, he’s a very, very old friend of the family, good friend of my dad. So my dad since passed away. But he you know, I grew up with Richard and and he sent me actually following one of my previous podcasts he sent me this is the story of the Starfish, and I’m not going to be doing it justice because these are centered on an email.

00:31:08:10 – 00:31:31:00
Philippa White
But basically the idea is there was a boy and he went to the beach and there was a whole beach full of starfish and he was one by one putting these starfish back in the sea. And someone came across him and said, The beach is full of these starfish. Like what? What are you doing? And he said, Well, at least I’m saving the starfish that I can save.

00:31:31:03 – 00:31:46:15
Philippa White
I won’t be able to do all of them, but I’m doing my bit. And, you know, I think that I think a lot of people right now are probably in the face of COP26. There’s just a lot that everyone’s facing. A lot of people aren’t even watching the news anymore because it just feels a little bit too much.

00:31:47:04 – 00:32:07:08
Philippa White
And I think it’s so important that all of us just take a step back. We think, okay, what can I do? What can I do with the power that I have in the situation that I’m in? What can I do? And I think your mum as far ahead that she was, you know, she taught you this however many years ago, which is crazy.

00:32:07:08 – 00:32:22:02
Philippa White
Right. And it sort of that light bulb moment went off as you’re at IBM and you’re like, hold on a second, this is crazy. My mum’s been you know, she was talking about that many years ago and I need to do this and you’re doing it and I’m doing it in my way. And so many people. And I think that’s the thing.

00:32:22:02 – 00:32:43:05
Philippa White
I think rather than feeling overwhelmed, we just need to remind ourselves it is possible we can do what we can within the power that we have resilience, taking that time to reflect and if everyone does that and back to what you said as well, you know, it’s the way you do business. If the way you do business makes sense, then the world will be better.

00:32:43:11 – 00:32:50:04
Philippa White
But there’s so much that you’ve talked about today that’s been so inspiring. I am so, so honored to have you. Thank you for joining us.

00:32:50:11 – 00:33:11:09
Caren McNamara
Well, it’s actually been a pleasure. And we’ve we have a connection already. So and I love the work that you do. And it is about inspiration. You know, I love to be inspired. I love inspiring others because we have so much possibilities. Yeah. And I love what you said. Just do what you can within your own.

00:33:11:09 – 00:33:19:05
Philippa White
Space to bring back to conscious container very quickly, before we sign off, what can you give the sort of general consumers as an option to think about in this space?

00:33:19:05 – 00:33:44:12
Caren McNamara
I did run many pilots and as we turn this business on. So there’s two things as we turn this business on. What I found out in the past is people will change their brand. They’ll move to a different brand of kombucha. That’s when they know what they’re doing. So once we turn this engine on the business on, then we’ll be doing marketing out with these companies, marketing to consumers.

00:33:44:12 – 00:34:03:16
Caren McNamara
So as we move forward, you’ll pay attention and look for this and we will begin to get a lot of press. We already have some some press. And then on the other side, we were successful this year in moving legislation and we got a lot of press for that legislation in California that said a returnable bottle can. Now flow within our redemption system.

00:34:03:16 – 00:34:25:15
Caren McNamara
We have a deposit scheme system here in California. And so as we begin to move forward, consumers can participate in buy. I’m going to go buy this bottle of wine or I’m going to go buy this particular brand of kombucha because it’s in a refillable, returnable bottle. So consumers are really, quite frankly, waiting for us to turn this on totally right.

00:34:25:23 – 00:34:32:07
Caren McNamara
And so when we turn it on, it’s is participation. You know, if you’re cool with moving to another brand that’s returnable.

00:34:32:07 – 00:34:46:03
Philippa White
Do you have a once this is turned on? So for people who are living, I mean, I have listeners who are in the California area in the same way that you would have the three the three arrows for recycling. Is there something that you’ve created for returnable?

00:34:47:15 – 00:35:11:23
Caren McNamara
So what will probably do it first because of how we’re launching the business is our customers, our wineries, the wine industry is where we’re launching is they’ve boosted this in the past. The gentleman who did this before the neck tags say this is a bottle that has been washed and refilled. So from a marketing perspective, eventually we’re that so that the consumer will see that eventually we’re going to have branded industry standard bottles.

00:35:11:23 – 00:35:32:01
Caren McNamara
That’s where this needs to go. So the wine industry will be ten industry standard bottles based on your varietals. And they will. We’re looking to brand those bottles actually the glass, because we do work with glass manufacturers. We’re starting sort of with the low hanging fruit. And but I can tell you, the vision for the next ten years is this we are going to scale.

00:35:32:01 – 00:35:40:03
Caren McNamara
This is a big scale proposition. And we talk to all the big global producers. They want to do this. All of them that I talked to.

00:35:40:09 – 00:35:55:15
Philippa White
This is so exciting. We need to have a follow up podcast in like a year at the end of late 2022. And we’re going to a follow up podcast. You’re going to tell me where things are. I’m so excited for you. We have come to the end, but honestly, you are such an inspiration. I’m so honored to have you.

00:35:55:15 – 00:36:03:09
Philippa White
Thank you so much for your time and good luck. I mean, this is you know, this is an exciting moment for you. You’re going to make your mom and dad proud.

00:36:03:17 – 00:36:17:13
Caren McNamara
You’re going to make me choke up here, my bladder and my eyeballs, as we’ve talked about before. So, so lovely. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share and hopefully inspire because it’s what I always look for.

00:36:17:17 – 00:36:22:06
Philippa White
Yeah, amazing. Listen. All the best. Thank you.

00:36:22:17 – 00:36:25:03
Caren McNamara
Thank you, my dear.

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