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Thankyou, next: Aussie social enterprise says goodbye to bottled water

11 August 2020 at 5:37 pm
Samantha Freestone
“We feel like it served its purpose and probably lived a little past its use-by date," co-founder Daniel Flynn said.                                                 

Samantha Freestone | 11 August 2020 at 5:37 pm


Thankyou, next: Aussie social enterprise says goodbye to bottled water
11 August 2020 at 5:37 pm

“We feel like it served its purpose and probably lived a little past its use-by date,” co-founder Daniel Flynn said.                                                 

It’s what made Thankyou a household name in Australia, but the social enterprise has decided to stop selling bottled water as it looks to reduce its environmental footprint.

Thankyou Group announced on Sunday that production of Thankyou Water has ceased, with the remaining bottles to be sold over the coming months.

The Melbourne-based social enterprise was started 12 years ago with the idea of selling water to help end the world water crisis, but has since grown to sell more than 55 products ranging from hand sanitiser to nappies.

Managing director Daniel Flynn, who co-founded Thankyou when he was 19, told Pro Bono News that the organisation was always aware of the problems inherent in selling single-use plastic bottled water.

He said while bottled water was its “genesis product”, the purpose of Thankyou was never about selling water but rather harnessing collective consumer power to take action on extreme poverty.

“Water was the first product to introduce Thankyou as a concept, but we feel like it served its purpose and probably lived a little past its use-by date,” Flynn said.                                                      

“We are looking to make the biggest positive impact we can on the world and single-use bottled water is environmental enemy number one in the consumer space. It’s something that we really shouldn’t be buying.

“So we think this is a great step forward.”

Flynn said while delays prevented them from unveiling a new product range to coincide with this announcement, the organisation has been planning what the next chapter of Thankyou looks like for some time. 

He also dismissed concerns the end of Thankyou Water will spell trouble for the social enterprise’s success.

“We think we’ll be okay. We tested and launched Thankyou in New Zealand and we didn’t launch the water,” he said.

“That’s what we were known for in Australia. But it turns out in New Zealand, Thankyou was able to gain great momentum without water, which really showed us the power of Thankyou beyond the first product we had in Australia.

“We do have an idea in the works for the future that would speak to water in some way. It’s still some time off and we can’t wait for the day we can launch that.”

Flynn added that the world was facing an important cultural moment during the COVID-19 crisis, which offered an opportunity for businesses and charities alike to question what they took into a post-pandemic society.

He said the crisis would hopefully cause a reset of “business as usual”.

“We should all be questioning what we are taking into the future, and if there are other things that organisations, charities, and brands can walk away from as we step into a new world,” he said.

Thankyou’s announcement comes at a time when the social enterprise sector is struggling.

A recent survey from Social Traders found that 57 per cent of social enterprises have experienced significant or drastic revenue declines since March, when the effects of pandemic were first felt.

But Thankyou is one of the rare businesses to not only survive the pandemic, but thrive, thanks to its range of hand sanitisers.

Flynn said Thankyou has experienced a “radical growth in revenue”. 

“It will be one of our biggest giving years ever, which is really important for the world and certainly our partners on the front line who are experiencing revenue declines,” he said.

Samantha Freestone  |  @ProBonoNews

Samantha Freestone is a career reporter with a special interest in Indo-Pacific geopolitics, sustainable financial market reporting and politics.

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