Practise what you teach

Enterprise: Go for Zero

What makes them special: Go for Zero partnered with i=change to make donations of $1 from each order. In 2022, donations doubled compared with the previous year. But the business’ sustained efforts at change also extend to education.

Go For Zero started as a pop-up store in November 2018 in Caloundra on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. On the back of a career in international retail and an education in workplace and team psychology, the venture’s founder, Ellie Degraeve, started the business with the mission of helping Australians put an end to wasteful consumption cycles by offering products and education that stop waste creation at its source.

Ellie makes sustainable, non-toxic and plastic-free products in the beauty, cleaning, pet care and baby care sectors. “Every decision I make at Go For Zero is guided by our mission to remove single-use waste from our environment,” she avers. “This includes the products we select, the way we store and deliver our orders, and also how we run our operations at both our warehouse and retail stores. Since we launched, we have always provided carbon-neutral shipping for orders, we have never printed order slips for warehouse staff – this is done digitally – and there is zero plastic used in any of our order packaging. We use paper tape with cornstarch glue, and paper padding.”

Go for Zero is a firmly female business – female-owned and female-run. Ellie employs six women, three of whom are undertaking their Certificate III in Business through a traineeship program. Furthermore, Ellie sources from female suppliers. Over 90 per cent of her current suppliers are female owned and run.

“Go for Zero harnesses its social media channels as educational platforms.”

One of Ellie’s proudest achievements is the development of an educational pathway. “I recognised a lack of knowledge from customers on how to read labels, recycle, use plastic-free products, etc,” she explains. “With the belief that when we know better, we do better, I needed to do more than offer people zero-waste, toxin-free products to make a difference in our planet’s health.” To this end, Go for Zero harnesses its social media channels as an educational platform, rather than purely an eCommerce one to create an innovative approach to sustainability education. “We reach over 500,000 viewers weekly, providing information on how to reduce our waste and toxins in our lives,” Ellie enthuses. 

Go for Zero has attained B Corp qualification and is now officially a carbon-positive company through offsetting its production, travel and energy usage. The business also recently launched Australia’s first hair-tie recycling program, in collaboration with Upparel and Ocean Hair Ties. “We offer a discount on our up-cycled hair ties which are made from broken bike tyres for customers who send back snapped or discarded hair ties,” Ellie explains. 

Striving to create transformational change within retail by providing transparency and accountability, and focusing on social and environmental impact, Go for Zero partners with i=change to provide donations of $1 from each order. In 2022, donations doubled, year on year, providing 11,000 meals to Aussies in need, removing 7476 kilograms of plastic from the oceans and planting 4700 trees. And, alongside her private range, Ellie has expanded Go for Zero’s product offering, with 178 products supporting 22 Australian purpose-driven entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is to become Australia’s first zero-waste warehouse and office and secure more local and national business awards [last year, Go for Zero was announced as the Queensland winner of the Promoting Sustainability category at the Telstra Best of Business Awards], to share our journey with others and help more businesses make the change to a more sustainable working environment.” 

This article first appeared in issue 40 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine