While many 25-year-olds were mostly concerned with drinking wine, Alice Rule was making it.
Five years later, Rule is the first New Zealand wine producer to introduce carbon offsets to her website and is on track to becoming the first New Zealand owned and operated wine business to be carbon positive.
Her wine business, 3sixty2, was founded on her desire to build a wine brand that had sustainability at its core, right from the wine production, to the packaging, to the market.
Being a carbon positive business means going beyond carbon zero by creating environmental benefit that will remove additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
A major step towards being carbon positive was to rebuild 3sixty2’s entire website on Shopify to allow for the incorporation of CarbonClicks.
CarbonClicks is platform added to the online checkout process that when clicked, adds a small payment to the transaction, which goes towards forest restoration, tree planting and renewable energy projects.
When Rule first started her business, she realised the amount of waste that was going on in the marketing collateral, particularly in the premium wine market which was where she wanted to focus on.
“It’s been a dream of mine to accelerate the circular economy in New Zealand wine and I’ve invested seriously in this. I realised that as a little fish it’s really hard to push for change so I did a major project on the circular economy of glass, trying to find ways to make sure that our packaging is as sustainable as our production process,” she says.
“Many wine bottles used in New Zealand are made overseas, are heavier and often put in synthetic boxes that are hard to recycle.”
This didn’t sit right with Rule.
“The majority of the wine industry in New Zealand is foreign owned or operated. For me just doing the right thing is what it means to be a Kiwi. It’s not part of a marketing ploy, it’s about being a clean green Kiwi and leading by example.”
Rule also runs an entirely paperless business with Xero and is passionate about avoiding plastic and sourcing ethically when it comes to packaging her precious wine.
“I did not want to put [plastic]tape all over my boxes,” she says.
Instead she uses glue for the boxes going to commercial customers and found a locally-sourced Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wrap for her general customers.
“It means there’s no tape, no plastic, no nothing,” she says. “There’s just an eco-adhesive spray that holds the box closed and then you tear the paper to get into the wine box.”
Rule tries to use New Zealand companies as much as she can throughout her business, and all her packaging is 100% recyclable.
In 2020, Rule was named a finalist for the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) awards in the Change Maker category which she says is one of her proudest achievements to date.
“The reason I joined SBN is because you get exposed to all these other industries and all these other businesses doing things differently and learning from them.”
And it doesn’t stop there.
Her next goal is to make New Zealand wine the most valued wine on the export market.
“I want to improve everyone’s sustainability performance – leading the way,” she says.