Business RadioX | Mike Nilan and Craig Ramsey with TreeZero and Paula Munger with NAA

Business RadioX | Mike Nilan and Craig Ramsey with TreeZero and Paula Munger with NAA

A version of this interview originally aired on Business RadioX.


The Story

Recently, our CEO Mike Nilan and our President Craig Ramsey joined Business Radio X’s High Velocity show to sit down and discuss TreeZero’s origins, its partnership with Wildlife Works and insights the company’s plans for the future.

Below is the recording along with a few excerpts from the interview. You can also find the entire conversation on the show’s website!

 

The Highlights

Business Radio X: What was it like marketing this product early on? Was the idea embraced? Were you laughed at?

  • MIKE: The last paper introduction to the office supply business was in the mid-‘70s, when recycled paper was introduced – that was the last innovation. So, when we came with a 100 percent tree free, carbon neutral paper, they embraced us. Because now they have something new to bring to their customers, and now they have a sustainable paper they can bring to their sustainable customers that can move the needle for them as well.

BRX: Now that you have access to a larger distribution, does that mean you’re done?

  • CRAIG: Oh no, we’re just getting started. What the TreeZero team has done so far that has been incredible is one-on-one calls with customers – making them aware and bringing them on board. Now that we have that, we’re also going to introducing new products that have the same core material, and are also carbon neutral.
  • MIKE: Really, anything you see in an office that is made from paper – notepads, composition books, calendars, ledgers – they can all be manufactured with our tree free, carbon natural paper. After that we’re going to go into commercial printing, as well as the food industry, where we’ll have the only tree free and carbon neutral plates, cups, trays and napkins. on the market. So we have a lot of new products to follow our copy paper, and most of them have been developed already.

BRX: How do you market your paper to customers?

  • CRAIG: What we’ve found is that sustainability is not a program, it’s not a project, it’s not a trend – it’s here to stay. And so buying our paper is one of the easiest decisions a company, university or government agency can make, because it’s a commodity product they know they’re going to be using, it’s great for the environment and its carbon neutral.
  • MIKE: And it’s affordable!

BRX: Can you talk a little about your partnership with Wildlife Works?

  • MIKE: Manufacturing our paper emits about 42 percent less CO2 emissions versus virgin paper, but there is some carbon output. So to make up for this, we buy our carbon credits through Wildlife Works. And we don’t just buy credits just to buy them. We buy credits that affect the very serious deforestation issues in the Congo and in Kenya, and we also impact the local communities through protecting wild animals, as well as helping the local impoverished communities. So it’s a full circle model, and we do it for the prime purpose of protecting the forest.

The Facts

  • Mike Nilan is Co-Founder and CEO of TreeZero, an Atlanta-based sustainable solutions company that markets, supplies and distributes agro-fiber paper and other environmentally responsible products for Fortune 2000 companies, colleges and universities, government agencies and consumers with a passion for sustainability.TreeZero’s flagship product TreeZero paper is the only premium, 100 percent tree free, carbon neutral paper made from sugarcane waste fiber. It is completely recyclable within existing recycling systems and compostable. According to Ricoh, TreeZero paper delivers excellent print quality when compared to regular recycled paper. TreeZero paper is available at major office supply distributors such as Office Depot/Office Max®, Ricoh Canada, Staples®, Veritiv™, Artlite and W.B. Mason, online at Amazon and in-store at FedEx® Office.Prior to founding TreeZero, Nilan was the CEO of an international sourcing company, The MarketSource, which focused on consumer goods for companies like Pepsi and Tropicana for eight years. Prior to The MarketSource’s success, Nilan served as the Founder, Chairman and CEO of One Coast Network, the largest wholesale gift and home accessory company in North America. To learn more about TreeZero, visit their website, and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
  • Craig Ramsey was appointed President of TreeZero in 2016, assuming leadership of the company’s entire value chain.  Prior to joining TreeZero, Ramsey spent over 30 years with Accenture where he was a member of the North America leadership team and headed the Atlanta office – one of the largest Accenture offices in the world during the last ten years of his tenure with Accenture. From there, he oversaw business development and client service for the company’s southeastern region and was a leader in market growth, corporate citizenship and community involvement.Craig has a Bachelor of Science (finance and risk management) and MBA from Florida State University. He has lived in Atlanta since 1982 with his wife and their four children. To learn more about TreeZero, visit their website, and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
  • Paula Munger is Director of Industry Research and Analysis at the National Apartment Association. In Paula’s role at NAA she has established an active NAA research program, to include leading research efforts on topics of importance to the industry and the association, implementing and managing specific research projects, and providing insight in government and other relevant data impacting apartments.Paula has previous experience at Cushman & Wakefield, The Federal Reserve and is a graduate of New York College at Buffalo. Find out more about NAA on their website, and connect with them on Twitter and Facebook. You can also connect with Paula on LinkedIn.

 

Solutions to Climate Change: A Review of Drawdown edited by Paul Hawken

Drawdown, The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reduce Global Warming, brilliantly edited by Paul Hawken, is just what we need. Its a straight forward narrative providing over 100 solutions to global warming. Simply reducing carbon emissions below an arbitrary percentage, from a randomly selected base year, is not enough to stem the impacts of anthropogenic climate change.

Drawdown is the collective work of a qualified and diverse group of researchers from around the world. They were tasked to identify, research, and model the 100 most substantive, existing solutions to address climate change.

The title of the book is derived from an atmospheric term. According to Paul Hawken, “drawdown is that point in time at which greenhouse gases peak and begin to decline on a year-to-year basis.” Hawken’s goal of the Drawdown project was to identify, measure, and model substantive solutions to determine how much we could accomplish within three decades.

Read more: Pedaling to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: Bike to Work Day

Much of the systems, knowledge and technology we need to deploy to create a meaningful drawdown of GHG (greenhouse gases) already exists. Yet, a blueprint to get them to work in unison did not. Until now. Drawdown provides such a roadmap using systems thinking. Hawken sets forth in Drawdown that “we found a plan, a blueprint that already exists in the world in the form of humanity’s collective wisdom, made manifest in applied, hand-on practices and technologies that are commonly available, economically viable and scientifically valid.”

In fact-filled, one-to-three page vignettes, Drawdown offers and ranks its solutions – most feasible today – and projects the potential impact (in gigatons) of reduced CO2 as well as global implementation costs and potential financial savings. Solutions are organized into seven sectors – Buildings and Cities, Energy, Food, Land Use, Materials, Transport and Women and Girls. The solutions presented range from afforestation, electric vehicles and food waste reduction to recycled paper, regenerative agriculture and refrigeration management.

Drawdown is a must read for business, NGO and government leaders regardless of their organization’s sustainability efforts or positioning on climate change. Each solution is described in concise, superb prose that will inspire practical application for any organization interested in reducing its impact on climate change.

What Drawdown makes clear is that no government, NGO, international conglomerate or philanthropist can solve climate change alone. It is going to require an all-of-the-above strategy with worldwide collaboration. Using Drawdown as a playbook, we have an opportunity, as Hawken states, “…to see global warming not as an inevitability but as an invitation to build, innovate, and effect change, a pathway that awakens creativity, compassion, and genius.”

I encourage you to buy a copy of Drawdown, read it and implement relevant suggested solutions. My hope is that, like me, you’ll come away with a sense of optimism and promise dispelling thoughts of doom that we can’t solve the climate crisis.

About Paul Hawken

Paul Hawken has written seven books published in over 50 countries in 29 languages including four national bestsellers, The Next Economy, Growing a Business, and The Ecology of Commerce, and Blessed Unrest. Natural Capitalism, co-authored with Amory Lovins, was read by several heads of state including Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world. He has appeared on numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and been profiled in articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, and Esquire.

His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Orion, and other publications. He founded several companies including the first food company in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agricultural methods. He has served on the board of several environmental organizations including Point Foundation (publisher of the Whole Earth Catalogs), Center for Plant Conservation, Trust for Public Land, and National Audubon Society.

Want to Read More by Paul Hawken

  • The Next Economy (Ballantine 1983)
  • Growing a Business (Simon and Schuster 1987)
  • The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins 1993)
  • Blessed Unrest (Viking, 2007)
  • Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little Brown, September 1999)
  • Carbon, The Business of Life, to be published by Penguin Random House in 2018.

Recent Posts

News Round-Up: Making Climate Change History

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding climate change in the news over the past few weeks.  The climate change debate is not new and unfortunately is not going away anytime soon.

The climate is changing, we have known it for a long time, and we can and must take action to stem the tide.  This Round-Up covers several interesting items related to “the news” on climate change.

 

Feature Story 

 The three-minute story of 800,000 years of climate change with a sting in the tail (Phys.org)

There are those who say climate has always changed, and that CO2 levels have always fluctuated.  That’s true. But its also true that since the industrial revolution, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have climbed to levels that are unprecedented over hundreds of millennia. Here’s a short video to put recent climate change and CO2 emissions into the context of the past 800,000 years. (Tweet about this)

 

Highlighted Stories

  • Thomas Edison – Renewable Energy Visionary (Thought Co) – In 1931, the same year he died, Edison confided his concerns to his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, who by then were retirement neighbors in Florida, “...we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy – sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” (Tweet about this)

Additional News

Important Resources

See you next time!

Jeff Foote

 

 

Weekly Round-Up: Combatting Deforestation

What do you think about when you think of trees?

Technology usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

You think of them for the shade they offer, the fruits they bare or even as a raw material for paper! But UK company BioCarbon Engineering recently revealed how quickly hundreds of trees could be planted – how entire ecosystems could be restored – with the use of drones.

Competing in the Drones for Good Competition, they utilized technology as an enabler showing how to reach difficult places and plant trees where they are needed.

The results are a brilliant and creative way to combat deforestation.

Feature Story

Oxford Based Company Plans to Use Drones to Plant One Billion Trees Per year (BioCarbon Engineering)

Can you plant a billion trees in a year? Oxford-based company BioCarbon says it’s not just possible – it’s already under way.

The company’s system works in two stages: first, a drone flies about and maps out the land, gathering intel on terrain, nutrients, and biodiversity.

Next, a planting drone fires biodegradable seedpods at targeted positions. Multiply that by 150 swarms of 6 drones each, BioCarbon believes it could eventually scale to 10s of billions of trees planted each year. (Click to Tweet)

Highlighted Stories

Additional News

Important Resources

Recent Posts

See you next week!

Jeff Foote