“Helping people from all round the world achieve their sustainability goals is an incredible feeling.”

Interviews with the Collective | Hayley Clarke, Managing Director at Onya

Earth Collective’s ‘Interviews with the Collective’ series is a collection of interviews with likeminded souls from around the globe, who are working towards a better future for the planet and people in it. This week, we hear from Hayley Clarke, Managing Director at Onya, a company focused on helping individuals reduce single use plastic through responsibly sourced and produced reusable products.

What was your catalyst to diving into the world of sustainability?

I was lucky to grow up with very aware parents that, due to being on lower incomes, meant we had to mend and make do with what we had. We rarely bought something new and both my parents had to become jacks of all trades around the house. Growing up being aware that we couldn’t afford waste definitely propelled me toward a business that was created around the sustainability banner.

Tell us about your business journey so far – what got you to where you are today with Onya?

I don’t believe it has been any one thing that has lead me to where I am today. It has been having a wide range of experiences in different industries that gave me the confidence to pursue a business in sustainability. Even though at the time some of those experiences were tough, they all taught me something important, which I was able to take into my business life going forward.

What has been your proudest achievement to date for Onya?

From a business perspective, it was being a finalist in the Telstra Business Awards as you are up against so many other incredible businesses from all industries, so to be a finalist is a real honour, but one of the things that tickles me most is when I am doing the food shopping and someone pulls out an Onya product to help them to prevent single use plastic waste in their daily life. Helping people from all round the world achieve their sustainability goals is an incredible feeling and makes me very proud!

What do you think is the biggest threat to our planet and the people in it today?

Probably people ourselves. We are often our own worst enemy and stand in the way of making the right decisions about how we live on the planet.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Knowing that you get to go to work and make a positive impact in the world definitely helps pep you up in the morning 🙂

Who/what has been the biggest influence in your life?

There are many incredible influences, but from an environmental perspective probably David Attenborough. I really love how he gently but persuasively goes about showing people the impact we are having on the planet and it is in a large part, I believe, through his influence that so much of the world’s population is even aware of many environmental issues and are inspired to make changes in their own lives.

What book(s) are you reading right now?

An insightful book called “Back Yourself” written by 27 women business leaders, which distills some of their most precious business lessons and advice and what can happen when you learn how to back yourself.

What does the word ‘community’ mean to you?

For me a community is a collection of souls who may not always agree, but ultimately want health & happiness and a good life for each other. They can challenge each other and get each other to look at things from multiple angles in order to find a well considered solution, but still allow people to be individuals.

What are your five top tips for people who are working to remove single-use plastic from their lives?

Onya Reusable Bread Bags
Onya Reusable Bread Bags. Image: Onya

I don’t know if there is necessarily five top tips, but my ultimate tip is simply to start! It is not about perfection. Just pick one area where you would most like to reduce single use plastic and start there. It could be as simple as using reusable produce bags. Once you are comfortable using them, pick another area. It could be buying bread in a reusable bread bag and supporting a local independent baker or using a reusable lunch wrap instead of plastic wrap. So my advice is just start with one thing, master it and move on to the next, before you know it you will be reducing single use plastic in many areas of your life.

Where are you heading to next in your journey?

Our goal is always to help as many people to reduce single use plastic in all aspects in their lives. So, until we think we have met that brief we stay on that journey!

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

Since 2004, at Onya we have worked hard to produce not only quality products to help you reduce single use plastic, but we also look at the ethics of that production, as well as that product’s end of life. Where possible we also make our products from recycled materials. If you decide that you would like to start your journey to reduce plastic waste with an Onya product, you can be reassured that we have ticked every possible box when it comes to quality, production and end of life solutions so no Onya product ever need go to landfill.

Hayley Clarke is the Managing Director of Onya

Onya is a company focused on helping individuals reduce single use plastic through responsibly sourced and produced reusable products. Hayley is passionate about creating profitable businesses that have strong social and environmental consciences, and she detests “green washing”. With a background of more than 10 years in national retail, her understanding of business sustainability, ethical marketing as well as sustainable product and packaging design is well founded. You can connect with Hayley through the Onya website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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Charli Ferrand Higgins

After a decade working for global and boutique PR and Marketing agencies in Sydney, with clients that included some of the biggest consumer brands in the world, Charli returned to her homeland of the UK in 2017 and decided the time had come to use her professional skills and experience for good. She has since split her time between supporting passionate, purpose-driven small and medium-sized businesses to grow through conscious content marketing, managing and editing the planet-positive content hub Earth Collective (weareearthcollective.com), and hosting the podcast Easy Being Green? Lessons in sustainable business for SMEs.

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