Ecoman - Malcolm Rands
The first time I learned that not everyone cares about the environment was when Melanie and I moved with our two daughters to the big city from our Eco village. It was an eye opener for us to realise what sheltered lives we'd had, surrounded by like-minded people that shared our concerns about the environment. It was such a good lesson for us to wake up and see how many people actually didn't care about the chemicals in their homes and that we had a real challenge ahead to enroll people in our cause. I remember that the word sustainability was not really used much back then and we were actually considered a bit weird by many of our peers (mind you that hasn't really changed…)
The catalyst for me to start ecostore was when I realised there were so many unhealthy chemicals in the everyday cleaning and body care products I was using inside my home and around my family. At that time I was growing my own vegetables organically and setting up a permaculture food forest so I knew I didn’t want unsafe chemicals anywhere near our food. It took me a while longer to figure out that chemicals could be just as harmful to our health if they were absorbed through the skin or breathed in.
My proudest moment in ecostore’s development is owning our own state of the art manufacturing plant which is now ISO14001, carboNZero and Diamond Enviromark certified - and devising all of our own plant-based formulations. At that moment we could put our hands on our hearts and tell the world that every aspect of ecostore products from sourcing raw materials to using untreated pallets to transport our products - were the very best they could be.
I was inspired to write the ecoman memoir because I wanted to show people that if you believe in something wholeheartedly and give it everything you’ve got then just about anything is possible. When we started ecostore we had two small children and a half-finished house. We were living a life of voluntary simplicity which might sound kind of ‘worthy’ or idyllic but in practical terms it meant that if our car broke down or we needed a trip to the dentist we were in big trouble financially. Overcoming our financial circumstances and many other obstacles to achieve my dream of creating a business that not only helps others to be more healthy and sustainable but also provides funds for my not-for-profit foundation is what this book’s about.
The most rewarding aspect of working with an eco-friendly brand is working for something that I believe in – it’s a privilege to know that we’re making a difference for so many people. Over the past twenty years we’ve had hundreds of letters and emails from people with health problems like eczema, dermatitis or asthma who have told us that their symptoms have improved or disappeared altogether after switching to ecostore products and that still feels so incredible.
My wife and I helped set up New Zealand’s first permaculture eco-village because we were lucky to be part of a group of fairly like-minded people that cared a lot about healthy and sustainable living and wanted to see if there was a better way to raise our kids together and co-own land, be involved in active neighbouring and just help each other out a bit more than people tend to do in the suburbs. I learned how to resolve conflict and to reach decisions by consensus and I’m glad to say that I'm still learning a lot from the people in our community – a couple of our neighbours have just built a root cellar to store the produce from their garden, others have become beekeepers, there are goats cheese makers – I'm pretty sure there will always be plenty to learn!