This Business Is Going the Extra Mile to Prove Why “It All Starts With One”

Leaning into the incredible influence of people power, local natural ingredient store earthYARD has launched a new initiative called the One Good Thing fund. Distributed annually across nine nominated charities and initiatives, the fund will see $1 from every order – both historically and now moving forward – donated.  

“If we can all do just One Good Thing we can see a difference,” earthYARD co-founder Bec Johnson shares. Here she talks us through why doing one good thing matters and the brand’s sustainability commitments.

Tell us about the purpose and passion behind earthYARD… 

earthYARD was born out of a desire to prove how easy it can be to do stuff, naturally. It started with the idea that we were surrounded by such a rich and diverse range of Australian-grown or naturally existing flora, mineral resources and traditional know-how. Deeper though, I wanted earthYARD to not only showcase the beautiful ingredients the farmers of Australia and the world can produce, but also how critical this seriously overlooked area of agriculture can be to rural communities. And just like a snowball, we were quickly taking stock of every element of our business and how it contributes to the broader community. Farming communities are fast realising that cropping for essential oil production and natural plant resources have multipurpose effects including economic stability and land sustainability. Further, a vast majority of our customers make products for the body, mind and home to sell. Natural product production impacts so many areas. The more we look, the more we see. 

I knew I still had to do something, anything.

We started with a strong collection of about 80 or so products that we hand-selected direct from producers and co-ops back in 2015 and now we have over 240. Everything from soap nuts and bamboo brushes to eucalyptus varieties and ylang ylang, complete with a whole heap of information and recipes about the best usages for each in and around the home. One of my most favourite elements of earthYARD is the conversations we get to have with our maker customers; every single one of them has a new idea about how to do stuff naturally and it inspires me continuously.

Why did you decide to start the ‘One Good Thing’ fund? 

A million accumulated moments spawned One Good Thing. Working for yourself and the family business means every brick wall comes down allowing you to see further afield, the opportunities are limitless. I started questioning every decision we made as a business from the paper on which we print and whether we really needed to print on anything, to how we talk to people and create meaningful connections, how we skill and treat our staff, and how we acknowledge where we came from and what has been. The constant questioning of, “Can we do better?” became the norm along with, “Where are we as a society heading?” It snowballed and I knew I needed to wrap this up into a neat little parcel. I quickly realised that everything I wanted to achieve was sky-high for what we could feasibly obtain right now, but I knew I still had to do something, anything. How could we do just one, good thing? We mapped out where we want to be and who we want to be five and 10 years down the line and decided that in order to get there, we had to start putting money into it now. The One Good Thing fund was designed so we can take $1 from every order, from our profits, and push it into just doing better for the planet and all its inhabitants. One Good Thing needed to be about providing equal opportunities for everyone because I strongly feel that without that, the hope for our collective futures just dwindles.

The constant questioning of, “Can we do better?” became the norm along with, “Where are we as a society heading?” It snowballed and I knew I needed to wrap this up into a neat little parcel.

For every good cause that gets a mention in the media, there are thousands that don’t. And for every good cause that gets a mention in the media, there are billions of dollars that don’t get spent addressing the issue. I started going down a rabbit hole of despair that our government and governments around the world just don’t care about the suffering, no one listens, it’s all hopeless. It was a really awful space to be in and did nothing other than contribute to hopelessness. I realised that through earthYARD, we had a vehicle to discuss societal issues and contribute to solutions. And that means if we do, every single business also does. Every single business should be looking at how they can do one good thing. If one order equals $1 and we ship 10,000 orders in a year, that’s 10,000 good things that could be done. It all starts with one.

Who are the charities/initiatives you’re partnering with…

Leave no man behind, I really think that’s at the core behind One Good Thing. The charities and initiatives we’ve decided to start with in our launch year really fit this box. A lot of it has to do with kids and trying to make sure that every child is standing on an equal playing field, yelling at the same decibel as everyone else. A child with a disability, or a disadvantage due to where they live or how much money their family has, has every right to the same opportunities as every other kid in the world. Children are just amazing and each generation I think is more awake than the previous one. Give them the voice and the vote, it’s for them what we leave behind legacy, not for ourselves. It’s for this reason that our hearts landed with Variety Australia, The Imagination Library and Gunawirra. Each of these charities provides opportunities that didn’t exist before, from access to schools for kids with physical disabilities (purely because a ramp needed to be installed!), to sparking the imaginations and curiosities that develop young brains into thinking mature brains through literature, and finally through supporting the first five years of early childhood development in remote Indigenous communities.

Leave no man behind, I really think that’s at the core behind One Good Thing.

Addressing the future safety of our children on this big blue planet also weighs heavily on our consciousness, which is why we landed with The Australian Maritime Conservation Society, CarbonNeutral and our own Plastic Reduction Initiative. The plastic in the ocean problem just seems insurmountable and at earthYARD we have no current choice than to use plastic for some of our range, so the guilt is real and heavy. Until we’ve got a solid solution to package our products that currently rely on plastic more sustainably and less wastefully, we have implemented a free packaging returns program. We pay for plastic to be returned to us so we can recondition it, reuse it or reimagine it. The money that gets proportioned to this space within our One Good Thing fund is going to research into biodegradable packaging solutions that can transport safely and securely oils that would normally require specific plastics.

The third piece that addresses future security is our tree planting efforts. This is not a new thing for earthYARD but fits the bill. We’ve been planting one tree for every order shipped either on farms for essential oil production (we only use regenerative harvesting so no tree ever comes down) or in biodiversity corridors managed by CarbonNeutral to regenerate old cleared grazing lands.

The last group of charities we support looks at addressing the immediate needs of our communities including food relief through Foodbank NSW/ACT. A lot of the work Foodbank does is rural and earthYARD wants to feed our farmers, help them get a good night sleep and wake bright, energised and positive. We need them to be this way. They feed us, teach us, keep us warm, heal us. Our farmers are everything.

Another charity we support in this group s RizeUp. We have a HUGE vision for work to be done in this space. earthYARD has a dream of providing a workspace and learning hub for women escaping domestic violence, complete with free on-site day-care, food and essential supplies, equal fair pay and transport arrangements from shelters, lodgings and supported accommodation. We want to give women the opportunity to forge their own path – be it for a week, a month or for a few years. Providing opportunities to learn or relearn warehousing, administration, sales, operational management, quality control and even technical skills like natural cosmetic manufacturing is a great way to show these women that they are supported but also self-supporting. This comes at a huge cost and earthYARD is still a baby really in itself. But when we get there, this will be our future. Until then, we’re standing with all the work RizeUp does to help rehome families and get them back on their feet any which way we can.

The final charity we’re supporting through the initiative is The Wayside Chapel in Sydney. It is because Wayside Chapel is willing to listen, to provide support and opportunities that we feel so strongly about their mission.

What’s ‘One Good Thing’ you do in your own life to help our planet and its inhabitants? 

Pass it on. I have a youngen that’s, as we chat, only 20 months old. But holy cow she understands more than I ever thought someone of her age could! Everything I do around the house and every decision I make, I teach. Water on, water off, lights on, lights off. Reuse, recycle. What are worms? What are bees? And she gets it! It’s amazing. If at that young age, they have a sixth sense for protecting our planet, we’re leaving it in good hands. Let’s just make sure it’s in repairable condition – at the very worst – when it gets handed down.

One good thing from each of us is 7.753 billion good things. Imagine if it was one good thing per day!

Why do you believe people power is so important when it comes to tackling these big, societal issues? 

Looking inward is the hardest thing anyone can do. Self-evaluation is a huge step forward in addressing some of the big issues out there. When we analyse ourselves and how we can do better we start seeing areas to improve everywhere! This should never be a daunting thing, nor should we allow it to overwhelm us. One good thing from each of us is 7.753 billion good things. Imagine if it was one good thing per day!