Oliver Dickinson, Founder of Wow Food & Drinks Ltd.
In a series of short videos, The Planet Shine introduces brands from across the globe who are making it their mission to make ethical living easy.
Wow Drinks launched in the UK back in 2016 with a commitment to offer healthy drinks as sustainably as possible. Despite inevitable compromises along the way, the company is certainly proving that sustainability is possible for all businesses.
I’ve never had any experience in anything I have ever done, but particularly drinks, which actually I really love because the company came about from a legitimate desire to make something which I thought was kind of cool, so a friend of mine who was a Royal Marine was using chia seeds and putting them into water and he was using that as an energy source when he would go yomping… I then continued to use it and I just noticed an increase in my wellbeing and energy and I loved drinking something that was having a tangible impact on my health and I thought that was kind of cool. So then looked into can we make this and put it on a shelf because it seems like a lot of people would also benefit from doing it, and then went on this journey to learn a lot about the drinks industry, a lot of stuff which I didn’t particularly like and so decided that we would do it the way in which we as consumers think that it should be done.
We are at the point now where we are challenging the status quo really really well. We have to produce into plastic bottles, we don’t have a choice because if we don’t produce into plastic bottles, we cant use the coldpress production process, so we then have to boil it and that is absolutely no way, so we have to use plastic bottles. We are working and we are very soon going to be able to launch into a 100percent recycled plastic bottles, which we are so excited about; we have been working on it for about 12 months now. But for us to do that means we have to spend a lot more per bottle, which means we take a massive hit on our gross margin and I don’t think it will lead to a big enough increase in sales at a consumer level to justify that investment yet. So we then have to decide as a business if that investment is worth it and the only thing we can judge that on is does ethically that sit right and is it important to us, and the answer is yes.
The stuff that we eat and drink affects everything, so it’s how we make consumers realise that when they walk into a store the decisions that they are making in that store are literally impacting the world.
Really it is led by larger food and drink manufacturers, they have the complete monopoly on the stuff that is available to consumers when they walk into that store, so consumers might walk in and feel like they need to do the right thing but if the options literally aren’t on the shelf then they can’t do that, so we have to find a way to get larger organisations to lead the movement. I try to think really visually around the decision that I am about to make, what does that look like – so if I am about to pick up a plastic bag, I like to literally think in my head of a plastic bag being thrown into a pit somewhere and what does that look like and what does it mean.