Affectionately known as â€śthe ecoman,â€ť Malcolm Rands lives by his values. Sharing his life between Auckland and Mamaki eco-village in New Zealandâ€™s top end, Malcolm has been passionate about the environment ever since he built a veggie patch for his mum at age 26. Thirty years later, he runs ecostore, an environmentally-friendly skincare and cleaning product range.
Well, I was involved in aÂ range of non-profit projects, and the most impactful work involved looking at what rituals are important to different cultures. And the most important festival celebrated by every tribe on the planet is mid-winter. But in the Southern Hemisphere we celebrate the Northern Hemisphereâ€™s festivalsâ€”itâ€™s a colonial thingâ€”and so on June 21, when itâ€™s our mid-winter, we do nothing but be completely miserable!
So I got the whole town of Whangarei in New Zealand, where I did most ofÂ my work, to celebrate Merry Midwinter. I managed to create enough excitement to get everyone involved. And what we did was turn our sub-tropical town into a working ski resort for five days. We had parades, bands, a big Maori welcome. I wanted Whangarei to be the mid-winter town of the Southern Hemisphere! And do it every year. But there was conflict between the various councils and bodies so the project didnâ€™t continue.
Even though Merry Midwinter didnâ€™t goÂ according to plan, everyone wanted to be part of it. And I thought,Â How can I create that energy again? I spent a whole year thinking, What turns me on, what am I good at, whatÂ do I know, how does my family fit into it? And I cameÂ up with this mind map, which we are still using today, that revealed business, for me, is not about making moneyâ€”itâ€™s about doing something I enjoy that lets meÂ give back to the world. My wife and I had been using sustainable and organic gardening practices for many years, but realised we were still being exposed to way too many toxic chemicals through the cleaning and body-care products we were using.
So, we use the precautionary principleâ€” if thereâ€™s any doubt aboutÂ the safety of an ingredient, weâ€™ll leave it out and findÂ a safer one. I always ask myself, Would I be ashamed to show this product to my neighbours in the eco-village? Shockingly, there are very few government regulations controlling the chemicals used in skincare and cleaning products. Which is why we also fully disclose every ingredient on every label. Itâ€™s your right to know.
Â I assume that if somethingÂ is really obvious to me, itâ€™s obvious to everyone. But I am learning that people needÂ to understand where I am coming from, what my philosophy is, rather than just assuming they do.
At Dumbo Feather, we only partner with businesses that are values-aligned. This meansâ€”for startersâ€”that they demonstrate a commitment to positively impacting the world. Read more about our partners.