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A small, women-led consulting service is making waves in sustainability across multiple industries. Planet+Purpose Solutions (PPS), a Charleston, S.C.-based consultancy led by Lia Colabello, works directly with brands to help them reduce their plastic waste.
Colabello, PPS’s managing principal, first started the consultancy as Plastic Pollution Solutions at the end of 2016. Over the course of five years, the organizations has seen a steady increase in clients, becoming a public benefit corporation and changing its name to Planet+Purpose Solutions along the way.
So far, Colabello and her team have brought their tailored solutions not just to outdoor brands, but also to fashion companies like Costa Sunglasses and cultural institutions like Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. Colabello has been a key player in the Plastic Impact Alliance since it was founded in early 2019, initiating trade show activations, brainstorming on ideas and action plans, and supporting the Alliance with her clients.
PPS takes a holistic approach to working with brands on their sustainability. “Essentially, a client will come to us and say, ‘We need to solve for x,’” Colabello told Outside Business Journal.
“X” might be achieving different climate certifications or reducing carbon output. Whatever the goal, the PPS team customizes a unique action plan for each of its clients.
“Outdoor brands often know what sustainability objectives they have to meet,” Colabello said. “However, sustainability may not be the specialty of anyone on their leadership teams, so it can be very overwhelming.”
How the process works
PPS’ process is fairly straightforward. First, the organization makes sure that key stakeholders at the client brand are all aligned on a particular set of goals. Then PPS builds out a strategy to support short-term goals, with the intention of eventually meeting long-term targets.
“We always go back to the question of how we can meld your sustainability strategy with a brand’s purpose so that it sticks,” Colabello said.
This strategy helps to ensure a consistent vision in all departments of a client company.
“It helps each team within a company to understand that this is the company’s goal, this is how your piece of the pie fits, and this is the impact you can have,” said Corey Clark, PPS’s project sustainability manager. “There’s a lot of fear [at brands] around greenwashing and climate fatigue at this point. Instilling the idea of progress, rather than perfection, is important.”
The long-term goal for PPS is to help clients reach B Corp certification through small, achievable steps. For some, that means adhering to REI’s Product Impact standards, or becoming Climate Neutral Certified, or simply focusing on the reduction of carbon and waste.
Success in multiple industries
Recent wins for PPS and its clients include helping Nuun Hydration achieve Climate Neutral Certification through “trickle-down sustainability,” whereby the manufacturing, operations, and shipping processes are evaluated and optimized for sustainability. The group also worked with Costa Sunglasses to pioneer the Kick Plastic initiative, which has eliminated 3 million single-use plastic bottles and recycled over four tons of plastic lenses. Through the Plastic Impact Alliance, Colabello and her team helped Outdoor Retailer eliminate an estimated 500 single-use plastic bottles from its summer 2021 show.
Now PPS’s goal is to bring client companies together to make industry-wide change. With PPS’s work in pet food, makeup, and fashion, as well as the outdoor industry, it has built a network of connections upon which to build a larger platform.
“With our years of building connections, we can now bring people from all these industries together to amplify a single message,” Clark said.
2022 is shaping up to be PPS’s biggest year yet. The group is expanding its team to meet demand from across multiple industries, as well as taking on larger roles at existing client companies.
“Most leaders don’t know how to start,” Colabello said. “They just know what’s expected of them by different external forces. That’s where we come in.”