Throughout my eco journey, I enjoy meeting other eco-entrepreneurs especially when their business is uncommon and requires a lot of thinking out of the box. I had a great experience connecting with Susie and Cheyanne from Branching Together.
Learn more about how you can make a difference by reading the detailed interview below:
1. How did you get the idea/concept of your business? What made you choose this type of initiative?
We both felt called to do something to address environmental issues that we were witnessing on both local and global levels. We first organized, fundraised, and went on a cross-country road trip with an environmental justice display in order to meet a variety of people and gauge the general understanding of environmental issues and human action as well as spread awareness about environmental matters. One day after we returned from our trip, we sat down in a park and started brainstorming about anything and everything that came to our minds as far as ideas for a business venture that would help people and the planet. Eventually, we started talking about the problem of waste, which has become a major issue across the globe and especially in the U.S., and both felt the need for this topic to be brought more to the forefront than it currently is. Chey used to work at our local waste facility for Lane County where she saw firsthand the mass amount of waste that was being produced just in our city of Eugene, OR. As we began exploring the subject of waste further, we realized that a lot of local businesses are disposing of materials that could be repurposed into functional products. After this realization, we began reaching out via email to local businesses who we thought would have waste materials or byproducts that could be repurposed, and a local bakery got back to us about the multitude of 5-gallon buckets they have to go through and dispose of. From there, we saw a large amount of plastic waste we could potentially prevent from being dumped into landfills. We started to design products that would utilize the five-gallon buckets and could provide functional and sustainable tools for people to use. We also collect wood waste from a local telephone pole company that would otherwise be disposed of and repurpose it to create our wood products. Thus, Branching Together and our mission, turning trash into treasure for your sustainable journey, was born.
Another element of our business that allows us to take our mission a step further by empowering people with knowledge is access to free resources on our website that explore diverse environmental topics. We have three resource sections that include book recommendations, home-how-tos, and articles (some of the articles are written by us as well). This allows people to dig deeper behind why embracing sustainable practices now is so important to the earth and its inhabitants.
2. What makes your eco-business and mission so unique? Branching Together’s goals?
Our business and mission are unique as we choose to repurpose an often overlooked, environmentally harmful, and largely disposed of material that is plastic five-gallon buckets. We collect five-gallon buckets from a sustainable bakery, which is also a B Corp, and go through the process of cleaning and restoring them in order to transform them into products that are not only functional, but that also support a sustainable lifestyle. For instance, the Pollinator Water Bucket is a safe and effective water source for pollinators, which supports our ecosystems, and the Hand-Operated Washing Bucket saves tens of gallons of water compared to a standard washing machine, just to name a couple. We strive to create products that will be long-lasting and perform uncommon functions that will support people on their sustainable journey. Also, we try to do our part to give back when possible. For example, each purchase of a wood item plants one tree and a portion of each purchase of a River Rock Necklace is donated to preserving freshwater. Ultimately, Branching Together aims to prevent large quantities of waste from an unsustainable end by giving these usable materials new life while supporting the planet in any way we can.
3. Tell the audience about your products.
Most of our five-gallon bucket products fall into one of the following categories: Camping, Gardening, or Power Outage Prep. Since five-gallon buckets are durable material, they’re great for use in scenarios and environments where your supplies experience frequent wear and tear, especially due to outdoor elements. Each product is specifically designed with practical function in mind to make life a little easier on the user while ensuring a lasting product.
We offer a variety of wood products as well, such as shelves, a Welcome Sign Wood Burning, and frequently feature one-of-a-kind items. Wood waste makes up about 8% of all waste in landfills, where it cannot exist in an environment for healthy decomposition, resulting in the release of greenhouse gas emissions. To prevent more wood from going to the landfill, all of our wood products are handcrafted with reclaimed wood. Additionally, each purchase of any wood product plants a tree!
An essential aspect of sustainability is sharing knowledge. That’s why we created a “Spread the Message” section in our shop, to provide products that offer different ways to spark conversation and inspiration regarding the earth. We have a selection of five eco-inspired hand-wood burned keychains, and as with all of our wood products, each purchase of a keychain plants a tree. We also have Branching Together stickers designed by us to remind any viewer of each individual’s important relationship with the planet. Lastly, we have handcrafted River Rock Necklaces, made of sustainable hemp, metal, and river rock, sustainably rockhounded by us. 10% of every necklace sale is donated to American Rivers to restore rivers and conserve freshwater around the country.
4. The product that you find consumers are mostly interested (top seller) and why do you think?
Our customers love the one-of-a-kind wood products. Since we use reclaimed wood, there are many functional items we can create, but with limited supply. As a result, we go through those unique items rather quickly. As far as the Bucket Products, the Compost Bucket is popular because it is so easy to use, and very compact for many different living situations. The Pollinator Water Bucket is a favorite for our gardeners, who seek to support their pollinator populations, as it provides a convenient and safe option for pollinators to stay hydrated. Lastly, the Washing Station Bucket has been popular for the summer season, especially for campers out there as it is a great tool to use for showering, washing hands, and washing dishes as well as providing additional storage space.
5. What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years with your small business and initiative?
Our main goal throughout the years will be to continue to do our part to address the ever-growing issue of waste by redirecting waste when possible. We hope to grow our business to a point where we both are working on it full time and saving as many buckets as possible from meeting their end in a landfill! We will continue to do our part to spread the message of how we can all become stewards of the earth through the free resources on our website, diverse in-person events (post Covid), and everyday action. We are hopeful that our efforts to prevent waste will inspire others to see trash not as waste, but as an opportunity for new life.
6. Do you have any specific advice for someone who wants to start a business similar to Branching Together?
It can be overwhelming to consider the environmental work that needs to be done, so it is beneficial when starting a sustainable business to choose a focus or a specific problem to help solve. For Branching Together, that focus is on waste or “turning trash into treasure,” more specifically, five-gallon buckets and wood waste. Also, it is important to approach your business with the mindset that it should reflect your personality and passion. With any sustainable business especially, the well-being of the earth must remain the central pillar in operations.
Continuing education regarding the environment and staying up to date on environmental issues is an important piece as well. This goal to improve our planet fuels the business when going through any rough patches, as owning a small business consists of challenging moments at times. But it’s all worth it when we get to prevent waste on a large scale while also spreading knowledge about the earth and helping others to live more sustainably!
I hope their story was as inspiring to you as it was for me. To get in touch with Branching Together follow and click their website for more info at branchingtogether.com.