Dominique Hadad Makes Sustainability Easy with Green Scope Consulting

November 3, 2022 | Adam Morris | 0 Comments



Dominique Hadad started Green Scope Consulting, after winning the President’s Prize at OSU, to fulfill her dream of making Columbus a city that has no collective footprint.  She shares her story, her love for the environment, and her insight into how businesses can fulfill their sustainability goals.

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[00:00:11] Adam: Welcome to People Helping People, the podcast to inspire greater social change. I'm your host, Adam Morris, and I'm super excited to be here with Dominique Haddad founder of Green Scope Consulting. Green Scope Consulting is a sustainability focused consultation service for small food businesses in central Ohio.

[00:00:31] Dominique has a cool story of how this got started, and is just a fascinating individual, so I'm so glad to have you on. So, Dominique welcome on the podcast.

[00:00:40] Dominique: Thanks Adam. I am very, very excited to be here and chat about how this has gone so far.

[00:00:45] Adam: That's awesome. Uh, let's dive in. --Can you start with just telling me a little bit about how this idea came about, and got off the ground?

[00:00:53] Dominique: Yeah. Yeah. And it's a fun story, so Green Scope got started when I was still in my, uh, last year of college at Ohio [00:01:00] State. Um, so I was an engineering student, applying to jobs as everybody else was. And I had a mentor of mine nudge me towards Ohio State's Presidents Prize, um, which is now called Ohio State's President's Buckeye Accelerator Program, but it's still based on the same idea. You submit your way, you would change the world if you had the capacity to , And the winners get a hundred thousand dollars for one year to bring their idea to life. Um, so I was very lucky to have a mentor that had heard me talk essentially and nudged me this direction because I was not previously involved in entrepreneurship.

[00:01:34] I was very much an engineering student looking to solve problems, in the way that, you know, academics sends you that direction. So I ended up submitting my idea for Green Scope Consulting, winning the present prize after, a few gruesome rounds of, uh, questions and presentations.

[00:01:49] And then upon graduation in December of 2020, won the present prize, got a hundred grand and green scope became, uh, not just an idea in my head,

[00:01:59] Adam: [00:02:00] Oh, that's cool. Now, how long had you been interested in sustainability? Where did that come from?

[00:02:05] Dominique: I definitely didn't grow up in a household where sustainability was a common topic. My parents care about their community and their environment, but um, they also migrated to the United States and they were doing lots of different other things. Uh, but I didn't grow up on a farm or in, a lot of the sustainability settings, I think a lot of my peers have.

[00:02:21] Um, but for me, it was an advocate in my high school. So I was going to high school. Um, and I would notice in the way out of school that we had a teacher, he actually recently passed away, his name was Mr. Rice. Uh, but he would stay after school and he would sort the garbage for hours, and a few of us students knew he was doing that, um, but kinda just took note of his commitment into what he was caring about and understood what he was doing, and essentially he was yeah, sorting, recycling from trash. Um, and so I then became the president of my high school, and you know how every class gives like a bench? So instead of giving a [00:03:00] bench as a graduating class, we asked this teacher what he would do, if he had the funds that the class gets to give a gift.

[00:03:06] Long story short, he wanted to make a zero waste school, and he helped us navigate how to do that, and that was when I first got a taste of just creating sustainability change, um, how frankly easy it can be when the right people in the room, but also like what the roadblocks look like. That was my first taste of just the world of sustainability.

[00:03:26] And then it grew at Ohio State. I got really involved in sustainability in my free time, I got involved with doing, um, I was a director of sustainability within student government, at Ohio State, which at Ohio State, they let you go as a student into a lot of those important rooms that decide, uh, what sustainability looks like going forward.

[00:03:45] And that was really, really cool and inspiring and insightful for me as a young person. Um, I was going to class learning how to solve problems academically and in my free time, figuring out where problems I wanted to solve, and that's kind of [00:04:00] where the two kind of met each other.

[00:04:02] Adam: That's interesting what you said about turning your high school into a zero waste school. What went into that? Like, what did that actually look like?

[00:04:11] Dominique: Yeah, that's a good question. So I think there was like three key features, which was, adding like a real recycling program so that this teacher wasn't collected in himself, uh, but instead it was happening with the students. And then, also changing the light bulbs. So being conscious of that wasn't really necessarily to be zero waste, but that was something that would be an easy transition.

[00:04:32] At Ohio State, it's what they did as well. They brought in ng, um, an axiom to do a big energy partnership at Ohio State, and that was the. Kind of move is let's get all these lights to LEDs. It's an easy way to start seeing improvements. And then, the third was eliminating materials that weren't needed.

[00:04:49] So for example, they would, they were bringing them, bringing into the cafeteria, styrofoam, and other materials that can't be repurposed in any way. So also just identifying where those [00:05:00] areas were and just eliminating them from the get-go. So basically some kind of swap outs, the right programs, and, knowing other ways you can have capacity for change.

[00:05:10] Adam: It sounds like you had a great experience with that in, in high school and at osu. Can we dive into a little bit about Green Scope Consulting and exactly what the premise is and, and how you structured that as a business?

[00:05:24] Dominique: Yeah, of course. So I wanna tell a bit about maybe like why Green Scope is what it is, uh, what it looks like today, and then you can let me know any questions you got for me. But, in terms of how Green Scope got formed. So I mentioned I was an engineering student in the classroom.

[00:05:39] I was a sustain sustainability advocate in my free time doing a lot of extracurricular work, figuring out how to solve problems when came to sustainability, uh, at a larger scale. But then on the weekends, I was studying. So for me, I was going out to cafes and restaurants with friends and i, I love food and I love Columbus.

[00:05:57] I grew up in Columbus, so for me, I [00:06:00] was sitting in these cafes and these different spaces in the community, and I wasn't seeing the engineering practices I was learning in the classroom, and I wasn't seeing sustainability implemented in the way that my schools implemented it. So I was starting to ask the question of like, what is a gap here?

[00:06:15] Why isn't sustainability, um, you know, top of mind in these spaces? Uh, and, and why not? And so, that's where Green Scope came about. So Green Scope is designed to help, local organizations to reduce their footprint. Um, and kind of we describe ourselves best as we can be your sustainability team if you don't have one, and we can support your sustainability team when you do have one, but they're being asked to manage a lot really quickly. Which is really. Especially where the way things are going now, I mean, we're seeing sustainability statements get more and more attention and we're seeing our sustainability asks and the demand for it to increase.

[00:06:54] And those teams are being asked to manage a lot. I got a chance to chat with a pretty popular food [00:07:00] chain, um, and they have a huge goal of making all their franchise locations zero waste and they have one individual managing waste management because previously that wasn't necessarily an area that was getting that much focus.

[00:07:14] So we have been surprised how much capacity there is for support on our end, where sustainability teams already do exist. So we're really excited about. Basically offering our expertise to make sustainability accessible and successful for anybody who wants to begin that conversation. And the thing that I think is really cool about it, as an engineering student, sustainability is smart.

[00:07:38] if you are being sustainable, you're being conscious of your resources, conscious of your time, so you're gonna save money, you're gonna save time, and you're gonna just run a better business, so that's really exciting for us. And we began looking at food businesses because of that passion I had and the need I saw.

[00:07:55] We've actually broadened our industries to serve restaurants, uh, any kinda food business [00:08:00] as well as shools, whether elementary or university. Um, and then office spaces. So if you have, you can imagine large office spaces have full cafeterias. There's a lot of inputs and outputs in that space, and we like to help out there too, as well.

[00:08:14] Adam: I think one thing that you said, which is, is really important is that, being sustainable helps you reduce your costs. Um, and I'm not sure a lot of businesses understand what that actually looks like and like how does being sustainable impact your, your bottom line.

[00:08:32] Dominique: Yeah, good questions. I'll give you some scenarios here, from our experiences. But let's say we're working with a cafe, So a really small, simple example. Um, but the impact can be really large. If you were to own a cafe, um, let's call it Adam's cafe, Easy. Uh, and you, you traditionally have customers come in order coffee, um, and treats.

[00:08:55] And let's say you always assume to go because maybe seating is confined [00:09:00] or you don't even wanna deal with having to navigate where they're going with their food. Um, but instead, if you were to have reusable cups as an option, you're gonna save on your costs of buying new cups.

[00:09:12] And there's an upfront cost of potentially buying a dishwasher, but a lot of these cafes already serve food, so they have a dishwasher in the back. So a lot of, it's not even that big of a transition, but having reusables, for example, as a switch can save you the cost of buying and disposables as often, especially when right now we're seeing supply chain issues and, um, changes.

[00:09:33] It honestly can also make you more resilient when changes occur, but also sustainability can be conscious in terms of, um, reducing waste with food. I mean, everything you paid for you should be using to make money. So if you're throwing away food, you're throwing away your own money and your own inputs as a business.

[00:09:52] So sustainability is reducing material waste as well as being conscious of our food waste, And cool stuff like that. And there's, and in Columbus in particular, [00:10:00] there's cool benefits out there right now for even being more sustainable. I personally am still navigating how Green Scope can be on the front end of that.

[00:10:07] We're working to build more incentives to make Columbus go in that more sustainable direction. But through SWACO and other programs in the community, you can get a grant as a business to make sustainable changes like recycling, um, or even composting.

[00:10:21] Adam: Okay, so you've been in operation for, a year and a half. Um, what's changed since you started? What have you learned about starting a business, and getting it off the ground?

[00:10:32] Dominique: Oh, I've learned so much I joked that I like tripped into entrepreneurship because I really that really was not my, my original plan. Um, but I love it. I'm really, really happy to be here and I think it, has taught me so much so far, but I've learned a lot because I didn't have a lot of like the business expertise coming into this to navigate networking, advocating for myself, um, you know, building a financial model [00:11:00] so,

[00:11:00] Adam: I love that. How do you say, you know, networking, advocating for myself and then building a financial model,

[00:11:08] Dominique: Hey. It was, it was all new. It was all new. Um, but it's grown a lot. So I will say, in one regard, green scope has changed, in the way we serve the community. Um, we've always measured our impact in terms of the amount of ways we can divert from landfills and how much we can save our clients and the amount and diversity of clients we can serve.

[00:11:32] But we have also just found other ways we can contribute. So our services now include doing sustainability. So putting together what we call our Waste Diagnostics reports, we look at what your output is, this organization. Which could be a school, an office, or a restaurant, or even a small cafe looking at your footprint in a quantifiable way.

[00:11:53] I'm really excited about like the data driven approach to sustainability because I think we all can agree we live in a bit of a [00:12:00] greenwashed society. I don't want sustainability to fall out of the, you know, the limelight because of lack of trust. And so I think I wanna be a part of building a data focused sustainability statement world.

[00:12:11] Our reporting does that helps you navigate what really is your footprint and what can you do about it? Small and big steps and. We also offer sustainability consulting. So then taking that roadmap a step further and making those changes possible or jumping in where you already have plans and goals and helping to just make those, goals more attainable for your team.

[00:12:33] We get to kind of frame ourselves as like a non full-time hire to get our sustainability goals accomplished. So lower cost, lower commitment, but hopefully still big impact. And then, the last feature is are sustainability training and education. So we've gotten really positive feedback from schools about incorporating sustainability focused education, as well as that's a big hurdle in a lot of these cafes or food restaurants, but because they have high turnover, how can we make sure that these [00:13:00] practices are kept up and that they're easy for our team members? So we help to kind of plug in there with knowing best practices, and having a bit more flexibility of our time and our effort and getting those things implemented for them.

[00:13:11] Adam: So what, what does that mean doing sustainability education in schools?

[00:13:16] Dominique: Yeah, it's really exciting and it looks different for every school. Something that I'm really passionate about is that we are small and we are new, and so let's make sure that what we're doing is tailored to your community. But we try to figure out, you know, what are the goals your school wants to accomplish and let's get the students on board with it.

[00:13:33] So some schools have, internal administration goals. I wanna have a zero waste cafeteria, for example, by, you know, 2025. How can I have a strong student community, uh, and teachers that help drive the effort forward because they're the ones day to day making those actions possible. So sometimes we come in and build a system.

[00:13:55] And then the students can help interact with that. Or we can have the students lead the charge. So I'm actually [00:14:00] consulting with Ohio State right now and we're helping them to you on a college campus, the size of a city, uh, navigate Incorporated composting across the entire campus. Yeah, it's really, really, really amazing.

[00:14:12] It's exciting for Columbus as a community but also for Ohio State and. Ohio State Zero waste Team is fantastic. And I'm lucky that I get to work alongside them and support them because they're juggling so much, uh, as you can imagine. We're actually helping to lead a volunteer-led program hoping to, we kind of run around all the students engaged, do trainings with students.

[00:14:33] They can just sign up on their own. We have built an incentive program so that the hours they spend helping to create Ohio State Zero waste program they get little prizes along the way, like hydro flasks, which has been honestly, really fun and really well received. And you know, that also is really good for the sustainability mission.

[00:14:50] What really matters is that we're building a community that will last at Ohio State longer than a we will. They can tell their friends they're, they are the ecosystem. Ohio State saw, [00:15:00] I like, get really excited about it, but Ohio State saw such a change in their footprint during Covid. I think it just says a lot about the fact that the people in the system have a huge say and what our environmental footprint looks like. So there's a lot of power in that and understanding that these students are the ones who decide the carbon footprint of a pretty large, small city that is Ohio State.

[00:15:19] Adam: Oh, that's cool. I really love your approach of getting the students involved.

[00:15:23] Dominique: Yeah, and education is really cool in, in elementary schools and high schools as well because we are actually talking to another high school at the moment that has a student who then came to Ohio State and volunteers with us, and he talks about what he learned in high school and how much that's contributed to him being a strong volunteer with us.

[00:15:41] And you can just see such the connection between what you learn as a young person and what you learn in school. And it gets me really excited to think about even making composting, for example and separating your waist and being conscious of the footprint that you create every day. Then if you learn that at school and as a kid, going home and being like, [00:16:00] Hey mom, dad, why aren't we separating our waste?

[00:16:03] Like, why is my food, Why does my man feel going into the trash when it could go into a compost bin? It's really exciting just to think that we could kind of establish what a new normal looks like for the next generation. So it's fun to solve problems and get people excited and build more changemakers.

[00:16:17] Adam: Well, and also building on the fact that, in high school you had your teacher who really inspired you and now you're turning that around and you're the inspiration for others to see that example of why it matters and that it's worth putting the effort in.

[00:16:32] Dominique: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I think it's really awesome.

[00:16:35] Adam: So thinking about yourself for a second, like how has this changed you personally?

[00:16:40] Dominique: Ah,

[00:16:40] Adam: year and a half

[00:16:41] Dominique: Yeah it's been really good. It's been really scary at times. I think that would be the only honest answer to give you. But it's been awesome. I began this process as just me founding Green Scope and myself winning this prize. And now I have a team of about five that is fantastic. We have also added some team members along [00:17:00] the way that be able to contribute for a short period of time and all the minds we're able to bring.

[00:17:05] And at insight has been really valuable. I am so lucky that my brain child gets to be a discussion, uh, and that's just really, really cool. I think any, every entrepreneur probably feels that way. I think I learned a lot about confidence and learning about advocating for myself. I mean, from the beginning of this process, it was a lot of being thrown to the wind and no one knows what you don't know.

[00:17:25] So it's really hard to always navigate where to go next and figure out what you need. I found that to be an interesting part of the process from going from an academic setting to kind of being out in the open world with your idea and you have the vision and learning how to communicate that, how to figure out how to ask for help, how to ask for support. Has been a, a really wonderful growing process. And I will say like, you mean you know this and also you're here, which is great. Uh, but Columbus is a great place to start something new and it's a great place to do really good work. So I've also been really inspired by [00:18:00] everybody around me that is doing amazing things.

[00:18:03] They just feel is what they're supposed to be doing. And like finally that their passions kind of fit. That puzzle piece is really cool. So definitely trust in the process a bit, build a strong network and SEA Change was absolutely pivotal to Green Scope, going from a potential idea with some goals to an actual running team.

[00:18:26] Adam: And if somebody's listening who's not familiar with Sea Change. Sea change is a 12 to 14 week social entrepreneurship accelerator here in Columbus, Ohio. It started here. It's now launched in, uh, Cleveland and I think launching in Denver. And they have an online program as well. So even if you're not in, the Columbus area, you can go through the programming to, to learn, but it's a really great resource for people to connect with people in the community, walk through their business model, their financial model, their impact model and get assistance on, [00:19:00] on how to communicate what they're doing and make sure that they're on track.

[00:19:04] Dominique: Yeah, I know. It was a big thing for me too, was just learning even the terminology for the things that were in my head or the things that weren't in my head yet, and being able to learn the terminology around how to ask the questions or the areas that pertain to building a social enterprise.

[00:19:18] So that was really awesome to be able to have curriculum to make sure you felt like you, have read it all.

[00:19:26] Adam: Yeah, I agree with you that like Columbus is really amazing in this social entrepreneurship community. What are some of the specific things that have helped you from that community to grow and develop.

[00:19:37] Dominique: Yeah, I think definitely see change. And not even just to Sea Change curriculum and programming, but my peers in the process, continue to be friends and partners. You recently had Alex Clemson, and Alex and I work together. He's a composting service, so if you work with Green Scope might be connect you to Alex's service.

[00:19:55] But, people like that have been able to be on the journey with me because I [00:20:00] think another feature of being an entrepreneur is it can be a little lonely. And so having peers that are like-minded who are battling similar struggles or even can confide in you and you can even learn from their experience, has been really valuable for me, especially as a younger person going through the process. I think also mentors and then the inkind support I received from Sea Change even or the rooms I was invited to be a part of because I was going through Sea Change. Uh, I think for me, just meeting people who could advise me can offer help, can show me how it's done. And yeah, I think just the, the people I can't say enough about because some people are out there to help you and support you.

[00:20:36] I think also just the willing, to be creative and passionate. We even see that in our clients as well. We work with a diff, a variety of different kinds of clients mostly cuz we've been navigating like, Oh, we can help you here. Awesome. We'd love to on top of just being like, Wow, like I wanna work alongside you.

[00:20:52] You're doing great, fantastic things. So it's just been really fantastic to see Columbus and the kinds of people and the work they want to do. And they've [00:21:00] received what we wanna do as well. A lot of people are like, Wow. Never had someone to sit across from and ask all my sustainability questions and they will get answered plainly.

[00:21:09] So that's been really awesome too. I think just to. I feel like we're adding value in that way. And I'm always one to say, I will make sure your question gets answered. If I don't have the answer, I'll find someone who will and I'll enjoy the process of doing that. But yeah, just the people are, are fantastic and the resources that are available or if you bring up Bruces that does not exist, someone probably will want to go make that.

[00:21:30] So it's really awesome.

[00:21:31] Adam: Oh, that's cool. So what's your vision for Green Scope Consulting?

[00:21:36] Dominique: That's a great question. We are really passionate about creating. A sustainable community. We wanna see Columbus be a city that has no collective footprint. That would be the ultimate end goal. And then to help do that in other cities. I think also we're seeing other cities operate potentially ahead of Columbus in terms of what's a sustainability.

[00:21:53] So also looking at other progressive cities and figuring out how we, bring Columbus along in matching those [00:22:00] sustainability measures so we can be on the front end, let's make Columbus kind of futureproof. So when those sustainability metrics come our way, we're already ready to do it.

[00:22:07] But yeah, I wanna see us support. Hopefully every food business in the community to understand what it means to be sustainable, how to make easy changes and make sure they know that we are here to help them do it. I'd also would love to see In terms of education, I'd love to build programs within universities that then connect down to high schools and elementary schools and have the sustainability conversation be really easy and commonplace and have students understand that they can have a huge say and what the footprint of their community looks like and be empowered, themselves. So kind of an ideal world, I world, I guess we would be really well known and help to have programs running all over the city with students running them in their schools. And we're there as support structure to make sure that those are being done successfully and that we're measuring the impact to be able to speak about the collective of print that we don't have.[00:23:00]

[00:23:00] Adam: I love it. Well, I hope you're leading that charge cuz you have such a wonderful energy and I think that's very inspiring for people to be around.

[00:23:08] Dominique: One day at a time. Really, really, One day at a time. That's kind of our, our motto one we're reducing waste in the community one organization at a time. So anybody who is on board or even just curious about what it would take for their organization to care and to put their actions where their hopes are.

[00:23:24] Then hopefully they know where to find us, and then we can start the conversation to show them. If now's not the time, at least you know what you're looking for to figure out when the time will start for you.

[00:23:35] Adam: And where do people find you?

[00:23:37] Dominique: You can learn more about us at greenscopeconsulting.com. So that's just greenscopeconsulting.com. We have a new website launching here soon, so I'm very excited about that. And one of our key entry points for like a restaurant, for example, a lot of restaurants don't always know where to start. This is a new topic in a lot of ways of being maybe a zero waste restaurant. So we've built a green business program. So if you were to be [00:24:00] interested in becoming a green business we've built our own incentive program by having three tiers, it costs the same amount. To join our green business program, you'd pay a flat rate for the entire year. And based on how green you are, you earn more perks in the program. And essentially, we're in your corner for an entire year. We are your sustainability team ready to answer questions, run over to fix something or help you ideate on the next awesome sustainability, innovation you wanna have in your space.

[00:24:28] So, . That's one way we try to make restaurants have an easy start to being greener in our community. But otherwise, reach out to me. My email is dominique at greenscopeconsulting.com and always reach out if you're curious about what it means to be sustainable, if it could even be possible for you what community members you could connect to, to make things possible I just love all things sustainability.

[00:24:47] So, um, happy to chat with anybody who's interested about making the first or next step.

[00:24:53] Adam: I love what we covered. It was really fun just hearing your journey of how you got started in high school, how you went [00:25:00] through OSU and won the President's Prize and launched a business as a social entrepreneur, not even knowing that you were an entrepreneur, And then, uh, grew a practice, which is actually helping businesses be more sustainable, but also reduce their costs and have great impact on the planet. So thank you for sharing that whole story.

[00:25:20] Dominique: Yeah. And thank you for chatting with me. Uh, I also would love to plug some of our wonderful, sustainable clients just cuz I, I like it. People are always asking us, Okay, you do that. So like, where should I eat ? And so I, I like answering those questions. So just some few of our partners to mention if you're wondering, some like nice fine dining that has a strong sense of their sustainability footprint and are being conscious about it. Uh, I recommend Strong Water over in Franklinton. They're composting day in and day out there's being, they're definitely taking the harder step to be sustainable and they're doing really great work in their kitchens.

[00:25:52] If you're interested in getting a sustainable cup of coffee I recommend Boston Stoker. I know over on Neil Ave, they are maybe moving locations. [00:26:00] But Justin over there is a great guy and they are doing awesome sustainability work. And then floor and coffee. I dunno if you've ever been Florin, but they are a fully zero waste coffee shop, so, um, congrats to them on being conscious.

[00:26:12] They make it look so easy, uh, because frankly it is. But they do. And so it's really awesome. And then even, uh, Co-Hatch Upper Arlington has, composting now for its members right there in the kitchen. So we love that and we are always supporting organizations that just make sustainability look smart and easy.

[00:26:31] So we helped those clients out and I'm excited to, to boast about them.

[00:26:35] Adam: That's so cool. That's great. Well, I just can't wait to see that, continue to grow and expand.

[00:26:42] Dominique: Yeah, me too. Thank you, Adam, for having me on here and, and letting me chat. This is awesome.

[00:26:47] Adam: I love it. Thank you so much.

[00:26:49] Dominique: Yeah, thank you.

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