Sustainability is the driving force behind Excio and our Fair Trade Photography programme. As avid photographers, we care about the people and places we capture, and we strive to align our practices to their well-being. As mindful citizens, we realise that how a product is consumed has an impact beyond the given industry and stakeholders. Hence, on this mission to make the buying and selling of images more transparent and fair, teaming up with enterprises and organisations that champion a sustainable mindset is crucial for keeping the momentum going and growing.
Sustainability 360 is just that kind of partner. Founded and directed by Caroline Thalund, this Christchurch-based start-up was born with the aim to accelerate the sustainability in businesses of all sizes. Like Excio, Sustainability 360 sees sustainability as an essential component – not an add-on. They address the root of the issue, helping companies understand what lacks in their approach, how to structure an effective plan, and how to optimise actions and reap benefits.
Can you please tell us a bit about your new product, S360?
S360 is a sustainability platform that makes it simple for businesses to act on, track, and report on their sustainability journey. The idea came from a solution I created while working for Christchurch International Airport which was very successful and frequently requested by other companies. That idea has now grown into an even simpler and more powerful platform. Time is the number one barrier for businesses to becoming more sustainable, and S360 will drastically cut down the time-consuming admin required. That means that the business can spend the time on creating bigger impact instead. We are currently trialling the beta version with early adopters and are super excited to launch S360 later this year where it will be available to all businesses.
Prior to joining Excio Fair Trade Photography, what platforms did you use to source images? And what were the main downsides/challenges of these databases?
When possible, we used to take our own photos. But we primarily sourced images that were either free to use or from your typical stock photo websites such as Shutterstock.
I guess the main issue was the lack of transparency. As a user, I have no idea what they pay their photographers or who the photographers are. I didn’t know much about the photographers or the photo except for tags. I like to know who produced the product I buy. I like to support local businesses, to know that everyone who was a part of producing and getting this product to me has been paid fairly for their work. I imagine that, when buying photos, the priority for most businesses is price. However, sustainability – including fair trade products and services – is moving into the spotlight. So hopefully this will become more and more important in business procurement decisions.
What other sustainable practices do you implement in your daily life – both personally and as a company?
I spend all my working life helping others accelerate their sustainability journeys. I see myself as a connector, bridge, enabler, motivator. When it comes to sustainability, there is a huge need for education and simplification, as being sustainable often feels too big, too expensive, and too overwhelming. So I spend a lot of my time working on breaking down these barriers.
At home, as you might expect, I am a bit of a sustainability nut too. I do all the little things that many environmentally-conscious people do. On a higher-impact level, I only have one car, an EV (a 24 kWh Nissan Leaf that covers 95% of my trips), and, living semi-rurally, I walk when possible. I purposefully bought a car from a place (EV City in Christchurch) that lends you a hybrid for free if you need to go out in the sticks. I also run my house as energy-efficient as possible. I moved my Kiwisaver to a sustainable alternative, CareSaver (which doesn’t invest in fossil fuels etc). I buy Fair Trade and local when I can… just to mention a few things.
What advice would you give to other organisations considering joining the Excio Fair Trade Photography? And to photographers?
Get involved! I think most people simply do not realise the potential unintentional consequences of buying products that are not Fair Trade. I didn’t look into issues regarding photography until recently. I like that Excio is run by local photographers here in New Zealand, that I know how much money goes where, and that I can select a charity to receive a part of the fee. Yes, it costs more than I would usually pay. But the quality of amazing photos and the fact I know it’s fair and sustainable make it worth it. For photographers, I imagine it would be a no-brainer as you get paid more – that is, what is fair.
In what ways does Excio Fair Trade Photography influence S360 and your clients?
We are a sustainability start-up, so for us, it is important that sustainability flows through our business, that we walk the talk. Joining Excio Fair Trade Photography is one way to do exactly that.
Finding sustainable solutions is a joint effort – but it all starts with individual action. Therefore, whether you are a photographer wanting to use #PhotographyForGood or a company looking for top-notch and fair-trade images, standing by your values is a good place to start. Don’t know what to do next? Check the Excio Blog for more tips on sustainable photography practices and insights from innovative organisations.