Published 4 years ago.
About a 4 minute read.
How does Saskia Van Gendt, Method’s Senior Director of Greenskeeping, stay so positive facing the globally unsustainable manufacturing processes still in play today? She says it’s through science — that at Method, “the direction of sustainability is based on the right thing from a scientific perspective, not a whim.”
Saskia Van Gendt, Method’s Senior Director of
Greenskeeping, exudes optimism — the type of energy you’d look for from one
tasked with spearheading monumental change and being the face of all things
hopeful for your company. What’s more, that energy is reflective of what Method,
the self-appointed “people against dirty,” stands for: integrity inside, outside
and all along the chain.
For those attending SB’19
Detroit in June, you’ll want to
add Van Gendt’s panel — on commitments and initiatives tackling plastic
— to your conference agenda; you may want to personally connect with her because
she’ll have you inspired in minutes. How does she stay so positive facing the
globally unsustainable manufacturing processes still in play today? She says
it’s through science — that at Method, “the direction of sustainability is based
on the right thing from a scientific perspective, not a whim.” With a solid
backing of data, this framework of
decision-making is a cornerstone of
what can become an emotional issue.
When asked how she keeps that faith for her colleagues, her sense of awe and
pride shine through: “Feeling that your ideas and vision are actually things we
can do, and the company has the appetite to innovate,” are the driving
motivations for her perpetual optimism.
Method has been optimistically championing a better way to do things since 2001.
At times, its better way (be it packaging
content, etc) has been criticized as potentially detrimental to its bottom line.
However, this proud B Corporation is steadfastly committed to innovation and
exploration. The brand is equally committed to advocating its business model:
in Chicago’s Pullman District prioritizes local hiring and has an
open-door policy — even to competition. According to Van Gendt, sharing its
approach to sustainable manufacturing goes beyond the bottle. Giving tours is
just one way Method proves that what it does, and how it does it, works.
Being recognized for proving the profitable path through purpose, and redefining
what good business is, has made Method a leader among socially and
environmentally driven businesses. Van Gendt notes the accomplishments of Method
proudly, but also appreciates competitors and peers in the space.
“I truly feel that there is, more than ever, a responsibility around plastic
for consumer brands. We can’t ignore that other brands and foundations have
really stepped up, and we applaud them.”
Where Van Gendt really sees Method’s advantage, however, is in its B Corp
While large corporations have an institutional inertia hindering responsiveness,
Method’s size and organizational approach keeps it nimble — allowing for
innovations in both product and business. Innovations directly correlating to
corporate initiatives and values are inherent in every step of production,
providing Method a credibility with consumers few other brands have.
“Consumers are looking for leadership transparency. They have more skepticism
around messaging, and being a B Corp is a great way to evaluate if a brand is
doing what it says it’s doing.”
Van Gendt believes that industries have not yet seen the potential of B Corp
and can’t wait to see B Corps become the new norm. Where there was previously
hesitation on brands’ part, Van Gendt now sees willingness. Brands seeking
leadership positions within their communities are taking notice of established
and wholly owned subsidiaries being certified. Seeing respected names use the
framework has shifted the conversation, with over 2,000 companies globally now
with B Corp standing. Method and Van Gendt will continue to be outspoken as to
the value gained.
“By using our B Corp standing as a platform, we continue to be honored among the
best of the best,” she says.
Being the best of the best, for Method, means fostering internal employee pride
and external education as part of the mission. van Gendt sees this especially
with the Soapbox manufacturing plant, where Method creates solutions that can be
replicated in other manufacturing industries and empowers its workforce to be
part of those solutions: Employees at the Pullman location know every ingredient
in the products they make. They have a voice to help identify efficiencies and
are encouraged to collaborate on the processes. As they learn about the Method
business, employees go forth as ambassadors into schools and the Chicago
“Our employees take pride in their jobs because they can go to their local
Target and see the tangible effects of their work; that’s really rewarding,”
van Gendt says.
She also knows that the work is never really done. Constant vigilance is
required to be a steward for the environment, Method, and its employees and
“We look at innovations that will benefit us, maybe ten years down the road.
Partnerships are how we test innovation, and we need to collaborate on new
materials and processes.
“As an optimist, I have to hope that it is real change.”
Meet Saskia van Gendt and courageous optimists like her at SB’19 Detroit, June
3-6. Register with code JoinUs and you can get 20% off a pass of your choosing!
Published Apr 29, 2019 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST