While we consumers try to find less wasteful ways to shop, it is also the responsibility of providing eco-friendly options. A sustainable business is necessary for a successful zero waste community. Zero waste stores and restaurants enable people to shift far from plastic.
But it takes a lot of grit to start a sustainable business. You veer away from the norm and challenge the status quo of a plastic-filled marketplace. Yet if you decide to do it, you will realize a greater cause to live by rather than mere profits. Such is the story of Spend With Us.
I interviewed Sarah Britz who founded Spend With Us from the tragedy that is the Australian Bushfire Crisis. She talks about her advocacy to help communities and small business owners to recover from the devastation. Get inspired by her eco-friendly lifestyle and learn how to start a sustainable business.
1. Tell me a little about yourself. Where do you live and work in?
My name is Sarah Britz. Originally from London, UK I now live on the Central Coast, NSW, Australia with my husband and 2 young children. I’m a freelance web designer.
2. What is Spend With Us?
Spend With Us is a website directory & marketplace created to support Australia’s Bushfire and Drought affected small businesses.
The concept is to make it as simple as possible for these businesses to get a website presence and accept donations or payments for products online. These businesses may have a facebook page or a simple website but many don’t know how to accept payments through these or are able to gain exposure for their business with those customers looking for businesses to support.
The idea for Spend With Us is that it will showcase all types of businesses from accommodation, restaurants to shops and will offer Australians looking to support these communities a website directory to easily search, book and purchase from these businesses or donate through virtual or pay it forward donations.
3. What made you start this marketplace?
I live on a rural property on the Central Coast, NSW which survived the recent Bushfires in the area and I felt the need to help those less fortunate using my web skills and knowledge and to give back to the community as best as I could.
I offered my skills pro-bono to any bushfire businesses in need and was contacted by a number of small rural businesses to help them create online stores to receive online donations and/or get exposure for their products, services and businesses.
Once I started speaking with business owners who were unsure how they would be able to pay their rent or staff due to the complete lack of tourism trade, which these towns rely on so heavily during the summer months, I knew I had to do something to help.
The idea for Spend With Us was born initially to help the businesses that contacted me from Myrtleford in North East Victoria and then grew into an idea that could help every small business struggling from the impact of bushfire and drought.
4. How does Spend With Us work?
It provides a simple platform for small business owners to use and create a free website store listing to tell their story, promote their business or services and to accept online payments.
I was aware that although there were a number of social media initiatives helping these communities, people who don’t use social media were missing out on being able to find and support many of these businesses during their time of need.
The website can be used by everyone, they don’t need their own website, or to be tech-savvy. A directory listing is simple to set up, and all the business needs is a PayPal account if they want to receive payments or donations.
5. What is happening now in Australia and its people?
Right now, Australia is being ravaged by the most devastating bushfire season the country has ever seen. Fires have burnt more than 12 million hectares across Australia. Business owners in these towns are concerned about how all the local businesses are going to survive this summer and the fire season with the lack of tourism and cancellation of bookings.
The drought has also severely impacted small businesses and communities across the country. Farmers are not spending money and their incomes have been affected. Farmers are not purchasing anything extra for their families, just the essentials, which means that local business suffers.
Australians have come together to give back and lend a hand. But as the devastation continues to unfold, many people want to know what more they can do to assist these bushfire and drought affected communities.
6. How does Spend With Us seek to help in the crisis?
Supporting local small businesses in fire-affected areas can give a much-needed boost to affected communities. The aim of Spend With Us is to provide these communities with a free and easy to use facility to get word out about their business and to accept online payments and donations.
All payments made through the website go directly to the families and communities that are in need. The aim is that Spend With Us will provide a place for people to not only shop online but also use it as an easy to search directory to discover places to stay and eat as well as local activities they can do to help bring money back into these towns.
7. What is your advocacy as a business?
Our advocacy is to help and support as many businesses, families and communities as possible that are recovering and rebuilding from the impact of these natural disasters. We want to promote these small towns and businesses so that hopefully people will visit as well as purchase and support them online.
Our aim is to support local and small rural businesses in these communities and help them bounce back now, and also to keep them afloat later on.
8. How will people send donations to the affected communities via your site?
People can browse through the site by product, category or by location and purchase products or vouchers. The site also has virtual/pay-it-forward products which consumers can purchase to donate much needed funds to the business to help towards rent, bills and staff wages. Pay it forward products will be passed on to locals in need.
9. What are your plans for Spend With Us to grow in the future?
I would love for Spend With Us to become the primary online source for people around the world to be able to discover, shop and support small rural and regional Australian businesses that need our help.
10. Aside from founding Spend With Us, what other sustainable habits do you practice in your life?
I live on a rural property and we are conscious about using natural and non-toxic products around the home and garden. We recycle and compost. We have also replaced almost all disposables with reusables. We try and grow most of our fresh vegetables and fruit ourselves.
11. What advice can you give to people who want to start their own sustainable businesses?
Look for something you are passionate about and focus on finding solutions to problems that the business can help fix.
About Sarah Britz, Founder of Spend With Us
Sarah is a website designer & developer with over 20 yrs industry experience. Having started her freelance design & development business back in 2009, she has worked with over 100 clients from multiple countries, including the UK, France, Spain and Australia.
Driven by a passion for helping businesses and individuals fulfil their dreams & bring their ideas to digital life. Sarah has partnered with a wide range of organisations from individuals, to startups, as well as large enterprise. Since its inception, Sarah’s freelance business has grown significantly with the majority of her work from referrals from happy clients.
Originally from London, England, she has lived in Spain, Canada and the USA and now lives on the beautiful Central Coast in NSW, Australia with her husband, two young children and two dogs.