2 minutes with Kaitlin Reid
You’ve worked with several start-ups, what do you find appealing about this?
I’ve had the privilege of working at a few successful start-ups. The energy, motivation, passion and resourcefulness that is required of everyone in a start-up is what draws me to them. Although I’ve now moved away from start-ups and am more attracted to innovation that is trying to solve a problem with a long-term solution (not sure of a catchy name for that?). Our fast-paced society, that start-up culture fosters, can be detrimental to us as individuals and as a community. I am a passionate person and definitely hit a wall in a job if I am not seeing a few of my values come to life there.
Who have your mentors been and what have you learnt from them?
I have been lucky to have great employers along my ‘career’ journey that I still keep in touch with. However, I am still on the path of being better at reaching out to and leaning on mentors. This is why I value groups like Fully Booked Women. I truly believe we are much stronger together as a community than on our own. I’m no longer scared to ask something in a group of successful business women because I know we are all on this journey together. At one stage or another we have all felt imposter syndrome; we’ve all questioned if we’re doing it right. I think what has rung most true is knowing your own intentions, being your own motivation and celebrating the small successes or else you’ll just see the fails.
Reground helps cafes divert coffee grounds to a more sustainable end use. Talk us through the process.
We exist to turn waste into a resource. We’ve been on an invigorating journey of changing mindset and behaviour around waste in Melbourne, starting with the platform of coffee. We have diverted 160 tonnes of coffee, which is almost 5 million coffees, from 80 cafes in Melbourne using a very simple process. We’re a subscription service where cafes simply pour their coffee grounds into the Reground bin instead of their general waste bin. We then take it for free to community gardens and home gardeners so it is no longer converting to methane gas in landfill but helping our soil and grow beautiful veggies. Reground customers are a part of a community of forward-thinking businesses putting their money where their mouth is. They’re making a stand for what’s important and it’s a privilege to help facilitate that.
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered with Reground?
Initially, it was all about education for us. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is a mentality that is very strong in Australia. Our first conversations were convincing people that this is a problem. Coffee turns into a toxic gas when in landfill but it is also a great resource for the garden. Another barrier is cost. Cafes assumed the service would be free.
We have chosen this model as anyone picking up something heavy and high in volume for free cannot sustain it, and a lot of coffee ends up mouldy, turning into methane, in a café’s backyard. We have seen behaviour change happen before our eyes. Cafes now ask us the fee instead of assuming it’s free. We have a waiting list of gardeners keen to take it and we have coffee drinkers looking for the Reground certification in the window to know who they should support. Persistence, a true care for our planet, and real relationships have gotten us to this point and there are more exciting things to come.
What are your top five tips for someone wanting to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle?
● Use your buying power. We have power every single day with the products we choose. Think of everything you’ve spent money on this week and the businesses behind those products or services. Choose to put your dollars toward the ones that are diverting their coffee from landfill, supporting local, minimising single-use plastic, sourcing quality non-harmful ingredients. We as customers have the power.
● Worms and compost. Your food scraps don’t need to end in landfill. Even if you live in an apartment, you can give a lot of your food scraps to worms who take up little space. Their castings are gold for a gardener so if you don’t have a garden you can share the love.
● Compost before recycling. Egg cartons, toilet rolls, mushroom bags - these can all have another life that doesn’t take energy to recycle.
● Have coffee in. It is such a beautiful opportunity to take a moment for ourselves. It also reduces the waste of the takeaway cup and is like stealing a moment in time. And if you can’t, of course, go the reusable cup all the way.
● Shop at markets. Supporting our local growers is one of the things that will keep this world alive.
If we were to come over for dinner, what would you prepare?
Spicy, satay tofu rice paper rolls – because then we’d all be making it together and I won’t miss out on conversation over wine.
You can follow Kaitlin and her work at Reground on Instagram @_reground or Facebook @regroundcompany
Interview by Amanda Kennedy. Amanda is an artist currently doing a writing degree. You can find her on Instagram @artbyamandakennedy