Going green for Koala was more than a marketing power play, it is ingrained in their DNA. To discover more about how this furniture business is helping us make a difference we chatted to Koala’s Sustainability Manager, Simone Awramenko.
LD: Koala offers “comfort returns” - a 120 nights trial of all products with the option to return them. But I’ve always wondered what happens to the unwanted beds when people return them?
SA: Since Koala launched in 2015, all our returned mattresses have either been donated to charity so they can directly help people in need, donated to people recovering from Cyclone Debbie or turned into carpet underlay. And it’s the same for our other products. We now work with a partner who manages our relationship with over 30 charities across Australia.
These charities do great work with people that might help people that are homeless, asylum seekers or victims of domestic violence, long-term unemployed, or people with disabilities. This means a returned bed base, pillow or sofa goes to someone who needs these essential items to build their life and gives that extra dignity and comfort and hopefully a bit of joy. A charity we’re working with is, for example, Generous and Grateful.
LD: Sustainability and the environment are a big part of Koala has it always been this way?
SA: Sustainability has always been a core to how we do business. Koala was founded with the purpose of changing an industry and protecting wildlife. This social purpose of protecting the environment feeds into everything we do - from
how we make products, deal with suppliers or engage with customers. It’s scary and as a furniture company our products are big(!) so we know we have a responsibility to minimise that impact as much as possible.
LD: So what is Koala doing to reduce their ecological footprint?
SA: Where the materials come from, how they’re made, how they’re transported and what happens to them when people don’t want them anymore. We have targets in place to increase our percentage of sustainably sourced timber and textiles, assess our manufacturers to ensure they are looking after their workers and the environment, and ensure recyclability of our products.
We work with WWF to conserve wildlife and have donated $ 1,000,594.95 to wildlife adoption programs to date across the Koala Hospital, Koala Preservation Society, Koala Habitat Program, 1% planet, WWF.
Customers adopt a koala with every purchased mattress which means that Koala’s donations are going towards various koala protection projects at WWF. For every purchased sofa, Koala also donates money that specifically goes towards the Green Turtle Milman project that WWF and Koala started together to support green turtles and to find solutions for their feminisation issue caused by global warming.
Simone is a sustainability professional within the corporate responsibility and sustainability space. At Koala she ensures that the business is giving back to the planet. They have ambitious goals of not just sustainability but Thrivability.