Are you a shopper who wants to put your money where your values are? Then Hive Brands, a Cloverly partner since its launch in October 2020, is for you.
Hive is an online marketplace for groceries and household supplies. It describes itself as “an ecosystem of people, brands, and causes working together to create a more equitable and sustainable world.”
The website features products from more than 100 small, independently owned, sustainability-focused companies—everything from sauces, canned goods, and snacks to cleaners, lotions, and baby care products. Hive partners with Cloverly to offset the carbon emissions of every shipment.
Scott Morris, Katie Tyson (chief commercial officer), Thomas Ellis (chief executive officer), and Steven Annese (chief operating officer) co-founded Hive. All have considerable experience with consumer brands, as do most of the other team members.
‘Money and Nimbleness’
Jamie Leidelmeyer, the head of sustainability, is an exception. He spent years working in international development for both nonprofit and government agencies. He gradually realized that, as he puts it, nonprofits collect a lot of brainpower, and the public sector offers technical expertise and political muscle. “But the money and the nimbleness to effect change really exist in the private sector.” So he moved to the Walmart Foundation, where he worked on supply chain sustainability, and then became a consultant.
When Hive came calling (“I think I was the second hire”), he leaped at the opportunity. To the founders’ pool of consumer goods experience, he brought sustainability savvy. “The mission was there,” he said. “The goal and the vision for sustainability were there. They brought me on to bring that to life.”
Hive provides a consumer marketplace for small brands that want to make the world a better place—and that sell great products. As the website says, “We’re here to connect people who want to shop their values with brands who live those values.” The company carefully vets potential partners using a set of criteria called the Hive Five:
- Ingredient integrity: Traceable ingredients, produced via sound practices.
- Recyclable packaging: Striving for zero waste.
- Low carbon footprint: Efficient operations.
- Committed to social good: Nurturing their communities.
- Rave-worthy: Tastes great/does the job.
Not every product or brand meets all 5 criteria, although virtually all meet at least 3. “We intentionally don’t take a hard line on an across-the-board standard for each of the Hive Five,” Leidelmeyer said. “Take a bag of chips, for example. There isn’t an industry solution that would be commercially viable for excellent packaging. It just doesn’t exist.”
In other words, when a company is striving to do better, Hive seeks to encourage that effort. If that chip company carefully sources its ingredients, minimizes food waste and energy usage during processing, contributes to underserved communities, and makes delicious snacks, then that’s a company that’s worth partnering with.
Comprehensive Product Info
Consumers get the final say, of course. Hive’s website provides amazing amounts of information about each product. For a bag of chips, you might learn about the taste, the organic and regenerative potato farming practices, the full list of ingredients, the causes that the company supports, the option to recycle the normally non-recyclable bag through TerraCycle, the other products that this brand offers, the similar snacks you might enjoy, and the experiences of others who have bought these chips.
Hive also lets you shop by cause. Do you prefer to support a company that contributes to community and economic development? Or education? A single click gives you the full list. (The other causes that Hive highlights are environment, health and disease, human and animal rights, and poverty and hunger.)
No individual company or consumer can single-handedly save the planet. However, Leidelmeyer said, Hive wants consumers to understand that “just me shopping here is at least a great step in the right direction.” And it explains why.
Hive uses 100% recyclable shipping materials, and just enough of them for that particular shipment—no microwave-size boxes containing a single chocolate bar. The company neutralizes the environmental impact of the shipping through Cloverly, with a custom-selected portfolio of offset projects.
Hive chose those projects carefully. Leidelmeyer asked us questions, and then more questions. What exactly are the goals of this project? What does “careful forest management” actually mean? In whose hands does the money end up?
Focus on Transparency
The probing derived from Hive’s commitment to transparency. “We want to show that this is why this product is on our website,” Leidelmeyer said. “These are the criteria. These are some of the ways you should be thinking about products like this as a consumer. And we’re going to keep you posted as we get more information and the sustainability features get better.”
Hive has begun a webinar series to educate its brand partners about sustainability-related topics. “I want us to be truly a resource for our brands and for our customers, with more information should they want to dive deeper,” Leidelmeyer said. “My goal is to build out a portal for all the brands to have access to supply chain audits, certification information, carbon offset information, and more.”
At Cloverly, we’re proud to have such a thoughtful, responsible, transparent partner—which brings to the marketplace so many wonderful (and yummy!) products that otherwise might get overlooked.
“We’re not done, and we don’t plan to be, ever,” Leidelmeyer said. “It’s going to constantly be evolving.”