Zoey Henderson is the founder of Fungtn, the UK's first range of adaptogenic non-alcoholic beers. Fungtn is a 0.5% craft beer range with a difference — vegan, gluten-free, and brewed with functional mushrooms.
Zoey believes in a more sustainable, planet-forward mindset. And she thinks there are some really exciting opportunities for society to change what and how we consume.
1. Describe your journey to learn more about sustainability and sustainable living.
My increased awareness of how we can all become better custodians of this planet started when I became vegan.
Animal agriculture is responsible for more Co2 emissions than all of the cars in the world combined. More deforestation has been caused raising animals for food with animal waste runoff polluting wetlands, rivers, and deltas worldwide.
So as this became front and center of my lifestyle choices, I had an increased empathy towards all living things on this planet and seeing more the delicate symbiotic balance that keeps us all in place.
We’ve upset this balance and sustainability is at the core of trying to readdress that.
Is what I am doing / eating / making sustainable? Due to our population growth and resource demands, it’s hard to do anything truly sustainable. We must, where we can, look at the changes we can make in our personal and professional habits to tread softly and leave as little impact as possible. Everyone has their focus and for me it is very much around our food systems and food production.
2. What are some resources you look to so you can learn more about sustainability?
For me, I believe we can all make a huge impact three/four times a day and vote with our forks. There is no longer truly sustainable meat or fish on the scale we need and so by eating more plants we are actively contributing to a more sustainable food system.
Demand forces change. Food production and food waste is a huge global process that is not sustainable. The West is over producing and wasting food whilst regions of the third world are starving. This imbalance is a humanitarian atrocity and one that has to be at the forefront of sustainable living.
Documentaries such as Cowspiracy, the recent Seaspiracy, and Tristram Stuarts Waste have been real eye openers. Find your angle — food, packaging, transport — and then research around the topic to become more knowledgeable.
Knowledge is power.
3. How have you built sustainability into your life?
Adjusting my food, becoming a more compassionate consumer, and trying to reduce the impact my daily food consumption has on the planet. I try, where possible, to buy my produce locally and organic (I am fortunate to live in the countryside) and try to buy in bulk with less packaging. This is certainly not always easy and this is where retailers and community leaders have a duty of care to help local residents be able to support local producers.
4. How have you built sustainability into your business?
My business, as my lifestyle does, has to be a reflection of my values.
Our ingredients are simple, traceable plants.
We do not use any plastic in our packaging.
As we scale globally, we will contract brew in territories to reduce shipping and freight, use local (national/regional) core ingredients where possible, and ensure all our partners share our values.
We have registered with the B Corp program and are growing our business into their framework too, we hope become B corp certified within the next 12 months.
5. What advice would you give businesses who want to become more sustainable but don’t know where to start?
There are many ways you can look at sustainability:
Energy use / Co2 emissions
Firstly, sustainability should not be used as a marketing tool. Don’t use it unless you are backing it up with an action, a promise, or a pathway to show how you are trying to make a difference.
We can’t be perfect at everything all the time and with so many areas to consider I would suggest making a list and creating a business audit of your product, process and packaging (or how it is delivered if a service), and then focus on optimizing each area.
Little wins all add up!
6. What are some common misconceptions of sustainability living and work?
I’ve noticed two big myths when it comes to sustainability.
You have to go off grid, start making your own clothes, and grow all your own veg. This is indeed a truly sustainable way of living but not practical or achievable for many.
It costs more for business. There certainly may be times when a specific type of sustainable / ethical packaging or process incurs more costs than a mass market cheaper open. However, as part of this earth and with our survival closely linked to that of the planet, ‘costs’ are more than just profit. In addition, the more business demand traceability, sustainable packaging, and other ways of working, the easier it will become and economies of scale will drive costs down for all.
In fact, becoming more sustainable in business can bring you more customers and create longer lasting more efficient processes. This creates value in your product and proposition and helps ensure that as business leaders of the present and future you are doing your bit to help people and the planet.
7. What other companies do you admire for their sustainable practices? Why?
Brew Dog have grown from a small craft brewer to a huge international producer of beer. They are working hard to offset their carbon, plant trees, and use renewable energy for their brewery operations. They shout about our about the issue. In fact, their recent advertising campaign that saw huge inner city billboards with "f*&k you CO2" written across them was pulled by the ASA but we need to start using some uncomfortable words to address these huge global issues. They are not afraid to shout about what they are doing and what the issues are and this gets my respect.
They have been championing sustainable fashion and business since they began in 1973. Fast fashion wasn’t anywhere near the issue then as it is now but with everything from harsh chemicals used in dyes, slavery, microplastic pollution, and throw away consumerism, fashion is a big industry that has many unethical and unsustainable practices. They not only live by ethical and sustainable processes and practice they have been actively campaigning on, and donating to, environmental issues for over 30 years and see their brand as a symbol for change. Right on.
8. Anything else you’d like to share?
Silence is acceptance and inaction is complicity.
As entrepreneurs and businesses owners we have a duty of care to make a difference with the impact out brands have on this world.
Make a start
Make that list, hold yourself accountable, and begin making adjustments. If your business was not born out of suitability, that's ok. You can make the change and it won't be overnight but by just beginning to identify areas to work on you are starting the process.
Doing the right thing isn't always easy. Bol foods are a great example of a brand taking a leap to do the right thing. Their founder grew ever more uncomfortable with using animal products in their recipes. He knew the unsustainable and environmental effects animal agriculture was having in the world and so they made the move to 100% plants based. Taking off the menu some of their best sellers. They are now more profitable and have expanded their range and reach.
Do the right things for the right reasons. Communicate with your customers and stakeholders what you are trying to do and take them on your journey. Set objectives and show how you expect to achieve them.