Words by Abi Scaife
Businesses have such a huge impact - on the planet, on communities, and so much more. So if they work with the intention of giving back it can make an incredible difference.
Smiley News caught up with Hannah McCollum, the founder and CEO of ChicP - a sustainable hummus brand - to talk about how she runs a business that gives back. The premise of ChicP is using leftover and surplus vegetables to make planet-conscious, healthy hummus that helps to tackle the problem of food waste.
“I don't think I would have started a hummus brand without having a mission. I'm very aware of the planet, and I'm always trying to make it a better place - but also try to enable others to make it a better place,” explains Hannah.
The mission behind ChicP is what sets it apart from other similar businesses - Hannah regularly partners with charities and is doing what she can to support British farmers by buying their surplus produce.
“I was a chef … and I was always turning leftover vegetables into different types of hummus and dips for the next day,” says Hannah, who hated seeing the amount of food waste at the end of every day. “They'd get creative, healthier food - there's nothing wrong with leftovers.”
Hannah’s experiments with hummus and dips made from leftover vegetable dishes, at home and at work, led her to take her tasty inventions to a new level - and so ChicP was born.
“My housemate called me ‘The Blender’ because we realized that I ate everything soft and she everything hard!” laughs Hannah. “Hummus is amazing. It's so versatile. But I wondered how I could make it sustainable and create awareness around food waste by using surplus vegetables and supporting British farmers.”
The driving force behind ChicP is Hannah’s passion for protecting the natural world. Food waste is such a big problem - not only for our environment, as the UK's food waste alone emits 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year (according to WRAP) - but because the food that is wasted could go on to do so much good.
Hannah is keen to have the environment at the centre of every aspect of the business - even when it comes to the hummus containers. The snackpots are made from 100% recyclable and reusable plastic, but Hannah has bigger ambitions and is working on trials for fully sustainable, plastic-free packaging.
“I do use plastic pots and at one stage I nearly stopped running the business because I had such a guilt thing and my mum was saying ‘if you stop, somebody else is going to take that space in the shop anyway - you're the one who's going to hopefully be the first one to have the more sustainable packaging’. And that's exactly what's happening,” says Hannah. “Now, I am the guinea pig for trying new types of packaging.”
“If businesses - however big or small - don't lead the way then it's going to be much more difficult for the consumer to make a difference.”
There are a number of things Hannah has done to give back through ChicP, including using the business to plant trees and giving back to charity. While donating any money is hard when you’re a business on the small-to-mid scale, Hannah is doing her best - is embarking on a partnership with The Royal Countryside Fund.
“I wanted a long-term charity partner who I really believed in,” explains Hannah, who has previously used ChicP to hold Charity Supperclubs, raising money for various charities. “The Royal Countryside Fund is a charity that supports British farmers and more sustainable practices - I think that's where there's a real lack of education and a real lack of support.”
Ultimately, Hannah seems to see ChicP as a vessel for doing good - yes, it’s a for-profit business, but that doesn’t mean she can’t use it to give back.
“How can you feel good as a business when you're doing something that's not trying to help in some way? I find that very difficult to understand. I don't even think there should be a reason for it other than we are in a climate catastrophe. So what the hell are you doing, running a business that's giving nothing back?”
Perhaps, as Hannah points out, the question we should be asking is not ‘Why are you using your business to give back?’ but ‘Why aren’t others doing the same?’
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
Climate Reframe. Climate Reframe is committed to supporting the climate and environment movement in its transformation towards greater justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI). Find out more.
Every Can Counts. This is a not-for-profit recycling programme, encouraging people to recycle more often, to protect our planet. Support them here.
The Felix Project. They collect fresh, nutritious food that cannot be sold and delivers this surplus food to charities and schools. Support them here.