Ecoman Book reviews and selected excerpts
The thoughtful and inspiring story of ‘ecoman’ Malcolm Rands is out now in his memoir Ecoman: From a Garage in Northland to a Pioneering Global Brand.
Once a year when I was a child, my mother’s mother, Grandma Ruby, would come up from Christchurch to stay with us, and as a big treat she’d take us out to a restaurant. I come from a very frugal family, so in Wellington in the late 1950s and early 1960s the only restaurant we ever went to was the Salvation Army People’s Place on Cuba Street. They had a large public dining room, the full service, nice tablecloths – no alcohol, of course. Ruby, who was a formidable woman, with a 48-inch bust that came out like a platform you could have eaten your breakfast on, took us there for Sunday lunch after we’d been to church. The fare was traditional Kiwi three courses: soup, then a roast, then pudding.
By the time I was eight or nine I’d been there three or four times and I’d sussed it. So when they came around and said ‘Soup, sir?’ I said ‘No, thank you’. While everyone else ate their soup, I just sat there. Then we had our dinner, and then came pudding, and after our pudding, I said, ‘Seeing as I didn’t have soup, I’ll have a second pudding.’
‘No,’ they said. ‘No, you can’t do that.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘seeing as I can’t have more pudding, I’ll have my soup.’
I suppose it was a defeat, and everyone had to wait while I ate my soup. The restaurant was bemused, but my family laughed. They were proud of me: I’d pushed the status quo and they were all very open to that kind of thing. Melanie loves that story. She says it sums me up perfectly.
Kiwis definitely have a love of nature. We love the idea of the beach and the bush – but we treat it as a given. We don’t think we have to work for it. A lot of Kiwis are likely to say: ‘Why do I need an eco product? We’re doing fine.’ Yet in New Zealand our 100% Pure brand is severely under threat from facts such as, in 2013: half of our monitored rivers are unsafe for swimming in, one-third of our lakes are unhealthy, and two-thirds of our native freshwater fish are at risk or threatened with extinction.
What you do makes a difference to the environment – but it has been a hard message to get across. People are not as motivated to act to save the environment as they say they are. And that comes back to the main theme of ecostore. We look after the planet – of course – but we offer more than that, and the second part of our message became very clear very early on. Right from the beginning we received many phone calls, letters and now emails – hundreds and hundreds over the years – and they have all said the same thing.
Since using your products the rash I’ve had for years has disappeared.
I’m not sneezing any more when I clean the house.
My eczema’s gone away.
My asthma seems to be getting better.
That was a huge revelation to us, and that’s why your health became a key part of our message to the market. It has become especially powerful as, over the past decade or two, people have been getting sicker and allergies are becoming not the exception but the norm.
"This book will change the way you think
about business equally as much as it will change the way you
think about the nasties you flush down the sink".
– Mark Godenho
“Ecoman riveted me from the first page and I highly recommend it. Rands runs ecostore as a business that improves the earth rather than trashes it. He sees no profit in making a profit at the expense of his planet. How awesome is that? If you’re having trouble choosing a Christmas gift this year, choose this book. You won’t be disappointed.”
– Emma Abrahams
read from cover to cover will definitely be a worn book on
– Lyds Harvey
"Just finished your
book - I had thought, 'why would you buy a book about
someone you know?’ I was so wrong, the book is fantastic,
congratulations. I never knew that so much had happened, and
the business has been through so many twists and turns.
“There were so many different aspects that really resonated with me, a lot around the way you see building values as central to the business. Also the striving to do what is right; exploring the frontiers of what is possible; stepping into a leadership role…. Thank you Malcolm for following your inner wisdom and helping shift us towards a healthier world.”