There’s been a lot of chatter about green and sustainable business lately with enterprise and high profile corporations adding eco-friendly activities to their portfolio in an attempt to demonstrate their focus on the environment. But with bureaucracy and corporate red tape, those efforts typically become ancillary to the company’s overall strategic imperatives, leaving a bulk of the responsibility to rest squarely on the shoulders of conscious entrepreneurs committed to doing their part in sustaining our planet.
For Terry Godier, Co-Founding Partner at Ocean of Tea, a high quality purveyor of eco-friendly tea, this is not only a responsibility that he happily accepts, but one that he bears proudly as he engineers his start up to save the world.
I had an opportunity to chat with Terry about his planned eco-initiatives, his vision for the first ever sustainable packaging that will help the environment while preserving the freshness of his teas, and his ambitious goals for Ocean of Tea to be completely off the grid within three years, while helping each of his consumers to reduce their carbon footprint in the process.
Meet Terry Godier, a recent college grad and born entrepreneur whose big dreams are aimed at taking a big bite out of the environmental issues that affect us all.
Name: Terry Godier
Title: Co-Owner, Founding Partner
Company: Ocean of Tea
You have lofty goals for saving the world through tea. How do you plan to do this?
Well, the ‘world changing’ will be done vicariously through our customers. We believe that by providing them with the knowledge they need to lead a greener life, and equipping them with a high quality, eco-friendly product that helps in that endeavor, they’ll be able make the impact for us. That’s the difference between a couple of guys in St. Louis who own a tea company selling green products and several thousand tea enthusiasts bringing away knowledge from those products and applying it to their everyday lives. The snowball effect comes to mind. We believe with the right education, all things are possible.
Have you always been committed to the environment?
I have always been eco-minded. Recycling was something that was ingrained in me from an early age, so when we started kicking around the idea of forming a tea company it was a no brainer that we’d have a strong environmental focus.
How is Ocean of Tea trailblazing the eco-effort?
We’re working to provide proprietary sustainable packaging for tea. We’ve had a few misses in our research and development efforts to date, but we’re happy to say we’re on the right track now! We’ve got a lot going on behind the scenes in terms of customer education as well. Can’t wait to see those come to fruition. No one else is going anything like them. That’s where some of the trailblazing comes in. Stay tuned.
What do you see as the greatest environmental impact that Ocean of Tea can have?
Educating our customers and simultaneously changing the industry standard packaging methods. Kind of a two birds with one stone approach. It’s all about the packaging. On another level, we’re working towards 100% organic, fair trade products and hope to be able to provide those very soon.
Why did you decide to go into the tea business?
Myself, I’m a huge tea fanatic. I’m also somewhat of an eco-junkie. I’m not an old guy, 21, but my brief taste of the corporate wold changed everything. Tea is just more fun, period. And if I can help positively impact the world while doing it, what could be better?
Are fair trade and organic teas more expensive?
They are, but ethical business practices form the core of Ocean of Tea. If a tea company doesn’t have good tea, what do they have? Since we don’t really participate in the traditional marketing methods that are standard for the industry, we rely on repeat customers and word of mouth. Both of which, we’ve done very well with so far. I can’t even tell you how many customers will send us an email after their order; “Wow! I used to buy tea from (insert company here) and didn’t know tea could taste like this!”, or something to that effect. It’s certainly good for office morale! Plus, we feel a real affinity for our customers.
Is there a big market for organic tea? Do you specifically target the green crowd? Or does it require some education in opening up the universe of consumers to the benfits of going organic?
That’s one of the fundamental beliefs of Ocean of Tea. We think that tea drinkers are the type of people who would be receptive to organic, green friendly products. We don’t specifically target them though; we target people who want a good cup of premium tea. That’s our primary market. But it’s all inter-connected.
Do you find that there’s something innately community-driven about tea drinkers? Do you try to foster and nurture this element?
I do. When people experience a truly delightful cup of tea, they’re going to share that information. Whether it’s with a spouse or with others through social networks like Twitter, a good cup of tea inspires conversation. That’s why we’re using social media to interact with our customers. We love to talk tea and improve our business based on their recommendations. Transparent business practices are essential to building a memorable brand these days.
How does the tea industry as a whole support the environment?
The tea industry is one of the better industries overall. There’s a really strong fair trade movement with teas that’s really exciting. There’s also widespread emphasis on organic farming as of late, which helps further the effort and give it mainstream appeal.
Do you think it’s the responsibility of every company to take environmental measures and reduce their overall carbon footprint?
Ideally, yes. But, at the same time I realize it’s just not viable in certain scenarios. We’re fortunate that we can build our company on this premis and commit to it.
Do you plan to expand beyond teas at some point in the future to other organic goods?
We don’t. We’d rather do one thing really well than 30 things questionably.
What’s your favorite tea? Why?
Well, I cycle quite a bit. So, one week I’d answer this ‘Silver Needle. For sure.’ Next week, I’ll be into Oolongs. Right now I’m going through a Puerh phase. So many flavors, so little time.
What company do you think is leading the environmental charge the best?
I don’t think I can choose just one company. Many companies excel in one category, but are lacking in others. I’m an avid supporter of the green blogs though. Educating the consumers is the most important process.
What advice do you have for people who want to start an eco-centric business?
Take the time to research what is currently offered but don’t copy. You should be able to come up with a better, more innovative way to provide your products or service. There is ALWAYS room for improvement.
To reinforce Terry’s commitment to introducing quality, eco-teas to the world, he is offering Triple Pundit readers a 10% discount off of their first order at Ocean of Tea. Simply enter the code: ‘triplepundit’ when you place your order, and you’ll help play a critical role in Ocean of Tea’s monumental vision of dramatically impacting our environment, and all you have to do is take a sip.