I first met Ashley Tully when I was a freshman at Manhattan College as part of the school’s Fair-Trade committee. Ashley had approached the committee looking for a student that would be willing to promote RUNA, a sustainable energy drink, on campus. Ashley would become my supervisor as I took on new marketing roles at RUNA and would later become a mentor to me in the social impact and sustainability space. Today I have the pleasure of writing a bit of her story on how she came into the social impact and sustainability world. She shares some advice for those who are drawn to working in this space, or for those who want to live more consciously.
What have your experiences in the sustainability and social impact field looked like?
“In my last year of college, I started to work with KIND as a Brand Ambassador in Philly. I was inspired by the leadership at KIND, the mission and the down-to-earth people the company attracted. The day-to-day actions we were taking as a team were aligned with the company’s mission to spread kindness, in small and large ways. A couple years later, I was offered a job as the Field Marketing Manager with RUNA in New York. What drew me to RUNA was the position itself, the partnership with the RUNA foundation in Ecuador & and the rich ceremonial culture around Guayusa. After my time with RUNA, I spent some time in Thailand, completing my yoga teacher training and travelling. For the past couple years, I have been working with a company called Tripper. We work directly with small farmers throughout Indonesia who grow turmeric, vanilla, cacao, cinnamon, etc. I work in sales, focusing on relationships with current customers and increasing the awareness of Tripper through working with new accounts. I’ll share more below!”
What is your current role? What motivated you to start doing what you do now?
“What drew me to Tripper was the focus on sustainable agricultural practices, the quality of the ingredients and also feeling a good connection with the people who interviewed me since that is who I’m working closely with. The work that I’ve done in the food & beverage industry prior to this has been with CPG brands. I recognized that working with Tripper would give me a more in-depth understanding of sustainable farming practices and an opportunity to learn what it’s like to work directly with farmers at origin. I also felt that my experience and knowledge would really help me to succeed in this role, connect with current customers and plant the seeds for new relationships. Although the US office is in California, the HQ is in Indonesia — imagining the opportunity to travel to Indonesia, while getting to see the behind the scenes of this work was a big plus for me!”
How does your organization make an impact?
“There are several sustainability projects, such as the cinnamon seedling program, agroforestry workshops and the water sovereignty project. The purpose of the cinnamon seedling program is to commit to planting over 100% of the cinnamon that we use. Not every seedling survives which is a good reason to plant more! The aim of the water sovereignty project (in collaboration with one of Tripper’s customers — IFF) is to provide farmers uninterrupted access to water, which improves their lives and improves the quality of the vanilla. This is done by installing ram pumps and ferrocement tanks to enable access to the next reachable water source. This project is in collaboration with 10 villages across Adonara, a small island in Indonesia — where many of the farmers we work with are located. Despite the humid tropical climate, Adonara faces heavy droughts during the dry season, which seem to last longer each year. In some areas, farmers can only depend on rainwater during the dry season and have asked for support. In addition to these projects, there is the eyeglasses (for vanilla farmers) project. Many of the vanilla farmers we work with experience age-related loss of eyesight. Tripper has started organizing eye-exams for these farmers and providing eyeglasses. Better vision supports farmers in the very delicate job of hand-pollinating each vanilla flower & it also improves their quality of life (for other activities that they enjoy, such as reading and seeing their families). These are some examples of current initiatives, actions and projects and there’s more in the works.”
What advice would you give to people who want to improve their lifestyle to become more sustainable and impactful?
“Becoming more conscious and curious about the brands and products we are using every day is a great step. In this process, I have found brands that I feel aligned with and are taking responsibility when it comes to their environmental impact and practices. Giving back in a consistent way is another great commitment. An organization that I found and feel really aligned with is called Charity Water. They have an option to set-up a monthly donation (any amount), which goes towards helping communities around the world have access to clean water. I’m very inspired by the work that they are doing and their level of transparency.”
What do you find to be the most useful things to incorporate a positive impact into your personal and professional lives?
“This is a great question, and I believe there’s no “one way.” For me, the practices of meditation, yoga and mindfulness continue to support all areas and I’m so grateful for these practices! They have become a very helpful foundation for me. The commitment to inner nourishment (even if it’s just a small window of time) pours over into how we show up in relationships, in difficult times, in the work we are doing, etc. Consistency is our friend!”
Ashely’s active on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/tullyashley/
You can learn more about Tripper on their website http://www.tripper.com