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The Case Of Change: Spotlight on Anastasia Kiku, Reusables

The creative has a green box on the top right that reads Spotlights. It has a black and white image of Anastasia Kiku along with text that mentions her name and title, that is Co-founder and COO of Reusables.

The case of change. Of the people, by the people, for the people. 
Meet the people affecting change. 

We are all waiting for someone else, someone bigger, more powerful – the government, NGOs, and other businesses – to take the lead on curbing plastic pollution.

Creating positive environmental and social impact is what Anastasia Kiku set out to do when she pivoted from a career as a professional ski racer to an entrepreneur. 

After completing her bachelor’s from the University of British Columbia, Anastasia’s passion to effect climate change and tackle complex problems drew her to like-minded innovative individuals at Lighter Footprint. Seeing the environmental impacts of food-related emissions, Anastasia partnered with Jason Hawkins. Together they co-founded Reusables: a social enterprise shaping the vision for zero-waste food retail by providing packaging-as-a-service to restaurants and helping them to easily transition from single-use to reuse.

Reusables is working to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by bringing the circular economy to food packaging. Reusables has diverted more than 100,000 single-use containers from landfills in the last year, which translates to over 10 tons of CO2 emissions avoided! By 2030, Anastasia wants to take Reusables to the next level and make up 20 percent of all food packaging. Read on to discover more about Anastasia’s journey and where Reusables is headed next.

At the Front Lines

Plastics are now ubiquitous to our environment, our fossils, and the deepest corners of our oceans. By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans1. More alarmingly, in the year 2021, over 26 percent of the plastic waste collected from Canadian shorelines was attributed to single-use food packaging2

There is a massive gap between the production and consumption of plastics. Plastic production started in the 1950s and tripled between the 1970s-90s. Today, 400 billion plastics per year are produced across the world. There are 8 billion people on the planet. Do the math. Most plastics never disappear and end up in our landfills and oceans.

These are complex problems with simpler solutions. 

Anastasia paints a beautiful picture of a life revolving around nature, spending time recharging, enjoying summer hikes and surfing, and skiing in the winter. Her genuine desire to protect the planet helps her build an organization that people can relate to and feel empowered by, to make a difference.

The creative has a picture of Anastasia Kiku, co-founder and COO of Reusables holding a banner that has a recycle sign and reads Tired of packaging waste? The right half of the creative has a blue band that has a quote from Anastasia Kiku that says Just get started! Don't wait for someone else to create change; be the change.

Solving for Success

Reusables focuses on solving for ‘sustainable cities and communities’ (SDG 11) and ‘responsible consumption and production’ (SDG 12), with an overlay of SDG 17 ‘partnerships for the goals.’ Anastasia emphasizes the importance of recognizing the support of partnerships in systems change.

On the right hand side of the creative there is a picture of two Reusables boxes with food in it. The left hand side is a light blue band with Anastasia Kiku's quote that reads "we designed our business model around one single KPI: number of containers reused."

Reusables is bringing the circular economy to food packaging by way of organizing society in a way that prioritizes reusing resources instead of extracting virgin raw materials.

Reusables operates like a library system for food containers. Anyone can borrow containers that they later return. After containers are commercially sanitized, they are used again and can be recirculated more than 1,000 times. You can become a ‘Reuser’ by downloading the app.

It’s often tempting not to make a decision until you have all the information or feel 100% ready, but one of the most important things in any startup is moving forward at speed and learning along the way.

Reusables makes for a fantastic social impact case study as they develop a coherent model where economic incentives directly align with their impact. Backed by grants through the Government of Canada and some exceptional early stage investors, Reusables is proud to have contributed towards diverting more than 5 tons of Canada’s total yearly waste and over 20 tons of Canada’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions, a 1000x growth as compared to the year before.

But, not without its challenges. 

The creative has a picture of a consumer enjoying food from a Reusables container on a bench in Fun Alley, Vancouver. On the right side of the creative is a light blue band with a quote from Anastasia Kiku, co-founder and COO of Reusables that reads "Now I see that what we are building is making a huge impact in Reusers' lives. The responsibility and feeling of accountability to our community is what keeps me going."

Balancing operational capacity and growth has been challenging. “You always want to get your solution to more customers but, at the same time, need to make sure that you have the resources to deliver a high-quality experience,” asserts Anastasia. She humbly talks about her amazing team that has been stepping up to be more efficient in many parts of operations, thus allowing Reusables to serve more clients with the same resources.

Reusables has its eyes set on maximizing impact. Anastasia identifies the path to scale as their next milestone, which they are hoping to achieve by the commercialization of their software offering. 

The right side of the creative has a photo of a person holding a reusables box with food in it. The left half of the creative is a blue band with a quote by Anastasia Kiku in green color that reads Today, Reusables accounts for one percent of all food packaging; by 2030, we want to be at twenty percent.

Behind the Scenes

Meet the team affecting change – Anastasia Kiku, COO and Jason Hawkins, CEO at Reusables. They are an inspirational founder duo! Jason works on the business and crafts the vision, while Anastasia takes charge of business operations and ensures seamless execution. 

Anastasia comes from humble beginnings. After losing her dad at the age of 8, she saw her mom take on the role of both parents and work hard to provide for Anastasia and her three siblings. On a personal front, Anastasia channels her mom in her everyday life. In her professional life, she follows Kristy O’Leary and Brianna Brown’s work at Decade Impact. The exciting mix of thoughtfulness, level of strategic planning, and actionable influence of Decade Impact have always incited Anastasia to be better and do better. 

A social entrepreneur’s journey is demanding. Anastasia takes out time to exercise as a form of mental health breaks, whether it’s biking, hiking, skiing, or walking on a trail. She also stresses surrounding yourself with a strong support system. Anastasia is a part of a lot of innovative communities where she has the chance to meet some interesting folks working on some of the coolest projects. 

The left half of the creative is in light blue color that has a quote from Anastasia Kiku that reads Creating something of your own always was and is very scary. There are a lot of ups and downs that I go through on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. 
What this journey has taught me is that neither the lows nor the highs last forever, so no matter what happens, just keep moving forward.
On the right hand side is a photo of a round stainless steel reusables' container with food in it.