PODCAST #20 · AARÓN BENDFELDT · MINIMALIST, UPCYCLED GLASSWARE & CHANGING LIVES IN GUATEMALA

Aarón Bendfeldt is a young social entrepreneur based in Guatemala City. After visiting Norway and learning about effective waste management (amongst many other things), he co-founded Grønn, a social enterprise that “generates social, environmental and economical impact through its operation in Guatemala. [They] are creating Guatemala’s first glass recycling platform for restaurants and upcycling glass bottles to manufacture handmade glassware and home décor items while providing economic opportunity to vulnerable women living in the most dangerous slums in Guatemala City”.

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We see ourselves as the pioneers in Guatemala on the environmental topic and trying to push it into people’s top of the line priorities
Aarón Bendfeldt

We visited Aarón at the Grønn factory in Guatemala City. The factory is based in a vibrant area so there was all sorts of interesting and fun background noises, including a band that was practising for the Independence Day Festival! It was a fun backdrop for an inspiring, uplifting interview which covered the following:

  • Aarón’s background, growing up in Guatemala City, studying chemical engineering and how a cultural exchange in Norway helped open Aarón’s mind to different ways of doing things (~01:30)
  • Aarón’s interest in entrepreneurship,how he developed a social perspective and early inspiration for Grønn (~05:45)
  • More on the Norwegian Exchange and what Aarón learned on the program with people from all over the world (~08:40)
  • Early learnings about waste management and bringing these ideas back to Guatemala (~11:00)
  • An overview of Grønn’s history, learning about the concept of upcycling and how Aarón brought it to life (~12:10)
  • Grønn’s 3 pillars of business including community impact with single moms from gang-ridden areas in Guatemala City  (~15:45)
  • More on the Gangs of Guatemala, how it impacts the community and how Grønn addresses the problem through social enterprise (~18:05)
  • Examples of positive impact from the Grønn model and a proud moment for Aarón (~23:15)
  • Grønn’s plans for expansion and their dream to scale and drive a sustainability agenda (~25:50)
  • The Grønn product range including glassware, customised products, home decor and water bottles (~29:10)
  • How you can buy Grønn products internationally through UTZ Market and a brief overview of the UTZ Market business (~30:10)
  • Thoughts on scaling the business and impact internationally (~31:45)
  • The Grønn team and the broader ecosystem working to make Grønn bigger and better (~33:35)
  • The Grønn minimalist aesthetic, where these products would work well and extending the impact (~35:30)
  • Why there is a band practice going on next door (~37:15)
  • Aarón’s thoughts on sustainability and how plastic pollution keeps keeps him up at night (~38:20)
  • Groundswell movement, changing the conversation on plastic and the role of consumers (~40:20)
  • The role of business to drive change and understand your full impact (~42:50)
  • Other inspiring social entrepreneurship stories including Ecofiltro and Itza Wood and how social enterprises are changing the landscape in Guatemala (~45:15)
  • Grønn’s crowdfunding campaign to expand the business and product range (~46:45)
  • Aarón’s advice for making a difference in the world (~48:15)

“It’s interesting to see how lives are being impacted [through] what they’re being exposed to…not only environmental sustainability but also financial sustainability”
Aarón Bendfeldt

NOTABLE LINKS

Grønn:

Aarón Bendfeldt:

Other Links:

Sustainable Jungle Podcast Interview - Aaron Bendfeldt Minimalist upcylced glassware and changing lives #socialentrepreneur #gronn #guatemala #changemakers

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