The ways in which this simple company is improving it's own community while impacting the world for the better is nothing short of inspiring! I learned some really valuable lessons from Wanaka Wastebusters and I hope you can, too:
First, some background. Wanaka Wastebusters (WW) is a nonprofit that was started just over 10 years ago by a group of community members. At the time, the mayor bet $100 that it wouldn't last a year.... Over a decade later it is the largest employer in the beautiful town of Wanaka, and it's initiatives are reaching all the way across New Zealand - with plenty of PR to support it. Note: I was told the now un-reelected mayor never paid up.
But WW also does more than just eliminate waste... It also employs special-needs individuals, provides valuable on the job training, conducts publicity stunts to push producers of waste to be more conscious (the Unpackit award is brilliant), and partners with local and national governments to help reduce the environmental impact of tourists. Oh, and their trucks run on biodiesel, too.
While visiting, I was invited into a planning meeting where I had the opportunity to ask a question: "What is your core competency?" to some team members. A few answers came out, but the overarching theme was this: WW is a passionate company determined to change the world with its ridiculously good innovative problem solving and behavior modification skills. They just happen to focus those skills towards eliminating waste. Not bad for a company that wasn't supposed to last one year...
There were countless leadership, business, and entrepreneurial lessons that I picked up in the 2 short days I spent with Sophie, Simon, and Sue from the WW team, but I leave you with a few quotes that, while spoken over the course of 2 days, tie together quite nicely:
"So as it turns out, most people just use business as a way to make money. But really, it's just a tool" (Sue)
"But we want to change the world" (Simon)
So you have to "do the best possible job with what - and whom - you've got" (Sophie)
"We found people with passion, set them on a direction, and let them create their own path" (Sue)
"And it has turned out to be an #epicsuccess" (Simon)
"At the end of the day, you can't get enough grants to change the world... You have to pay for your own revolution - that's why we use business as a tool... after all, how hard can it be?" (Sue)
Considering they're changing the world by playing with what other people call trash, I think they have a point!
Wanaka Wastebusters uses trash to change the world... That should give the rest of us hope and inspiration to change the world by focusing our own passions in making the world a better place... "Afterall, how hard can it be?"