Making a business venture more environmentally friendly is a concern for every CEO. Still, Jason and Emma Ash at YoungPlanet are doing all they can to make a difference to the circular economy. What started as an idea to bring joy to children and parents alike, became an app to also work towards helping more families go green.
We spoke with Jason to find out more.
YoungPlanet is an app that helps families exchange children’s items for free; helping parents to declutter, give joy to others and save the planet. My wife, Emma, and I created the platform in 2019 with the aim of helping to meet the ever-changing needs of growing families, whilst reducing their household waste. We want to see a generation growing up to view second-hand as their first choice, without detriment to the experience. Wherever there are families conscious of cost and waste, we have a role to play. Our free circular economy business model has helped over 100,000 users to put pre-used children’s things to good use with new families and away from landfill.
One of the main inspirations for YoungPlanet came to us when we were living in America and went to a yard sale. Our son fell in love with a bright red Radio Flyer truck, and he was so captivated by it that the seller gave it to us for free. This heartwarming experience brought home both the emotional and tangible ‘value’ of things that children enjoy, and the environmental benefits of sourcing quality items within a ‘circular’ environment. Our family has since become focused on prioritising sustainable options by sourcing as many second hand things as possible. It was these experiences that sparked the idea for an app that can use the circular economy to help parents pass on pre-loved items, avoid overburdened landfills, and save money.
We are free to use and proud to promote sustainable living in a family-friendly way. Our app focuses on the joy of giving pre-loved items to others, creating a tight-knit community of users that encourage each other to declutter and make changes to save the planet. Families can easily list and track the journeys of their items – not only do they go much faster than selling, but our platform spreads more gratitude because they’re free! We also reward those who have donated more items in the past by prioritising their requests, so more parents are motivated to be more sustainable.
During the height of the pandemic, exchanging physical goods and making new friends became less of a priority for families. We advised our early advocates to pause their in-person exchanges, and our operations eased. However, as time went on, particularly during periods of lockdown, communities began to realise how important it was to support others facing the same challenges – especially the issues of environmental waste and parenting costs. After introducing no-contact exchanges between our users, communities were able to build trust and create autonomy in exchanging pre-loved items, which allowed our user base to grow organically.
With a current household penetration above 10% in a number of London Boroughs, YoungPlanet is continuing to expand across the UK. Looking ahead, we’d like to become the world’s most loved – and free – circular economy platform, committed to reducing both the environmental and financial impact of parenting. With the help of our planned partnerships and our growing subscription base, we hope to eventually develop an international presence. With the sharing economy set to be worth £9 billion within the next 5 years, there’s no reason why we can’t have the breadth and depth of eBay!
We started the platform in 2019 after enjoying high profile roles across general management and communications. Although our previous roles involved elements of progressive sustainability, it wasn’t the main focus, which is largely what influenced our decision to set up YoungPlanet. We wanted to use our skills ‘for good’, having spent the previous 20 years essentially encouraging people to eat, drink and wear more expensive clothes. Whilst our combined experience has helped us to develop this platform, proving particularly helpful when it comes to marketing and scaling our brand, we employed a hands-on approach to our business when raising investment. In 2019 we focused on crowdfunding in order to generate community-focused, financial support, and since then we have successfully raised over £945,000 to grow our business through the Crowdcube platform.
The team that has formed around us has predominantly joined YoungPlanet via the user base, which is very healthy. Whilst juggling work and parenting does come with its difficulties, Emma and I have split things evenly between ourselves, making sure that we both have equal opportunities to treat our boys and represent our business.
For business enquiries, visit https://www.youngplanet.com/ to find out more.