A Sustainable Startup – Wrong Generation’s Approach to Upcycling

Wrong Generation

“Profit margin is less important to me than reducing my impact, since that’s the mission of the business in the first place!” – Zach Smith, Wrong Generation owner. This article focuses on a local startup company utilizing sustainable and ethical methods to upcycle damaged goods. The quotes and much of the information was provided via an exclusive interview with business owner Zach Smith.

Wrong Generation is a new sustainable-oriented business established by a homegrown Toronto entrepreneur, Zach Smith. Smith started his professional career with the local full-service production company Sick Bird Productions where he works as Head of Growth. Now, when he’s not doing that, he’s working to give a second life to damaged vinyl records. Wrong Generation is a one-man operation, covering manufacturing, packing, fulfillment, designing, marketing, social media managing, advertising, product development, and customer support – essentially a series of full-time positions covered by one incredibly talented individual.

The idea for Wrong Generation was born when Zach Smith scratched one of his favourite records. He was hesitant to throw it away, as he feels vinyls are valuable to musical history – and because our landfills are already overflowing with plastics. It then occurred to Smith how significant of a problem this could be across the world. So he set out and connected with local record shops to do some research. As it turned out, they had a whole basement full of scratched, warped, and essentially useless records. Knowing he had to do something about this, he made it his mission to save these records from an otherwise wasteful fate. By upcycling the damaged vinyls into useful household items, Smith has successfully been able to give them a new purpose and a second chance to bring joy to a new owner.

Figure 1 – Vinyl Bookends / Figure 2 – Vinyl Bowls/ Figure 3 – Wrong Generation Logo Hoodie

At present, Wrong Generation offers vinyl bookends (see figure 1), vinyl bowls (see figure 2), and a Wrong Generation logo hoodie (see figure 3). Additionally, Smith has 2 new products in the works that will become available to the public within the next few weeks, and he is developing a number of other product ideas for future expansions upon the product line. According to Zach Smith, “Vinyl is a great material, and since I’ve got an abundant supply, I’d like to stretch the limits of how many ways I can utilize it.” Overall, the sustainability of the processes involved are crucial to the operation of Wrong Generation and the creation of its products – including sustainable packaging and carbon neutral shipping. Carbon neutral shipping is an incredibly important aspect in running a sustainable business, and one that Smith feels is often overlooked by other product providers. Providing this option for customers was as simple as installing an integration into his Shopify account, which automatically charges him to offset the cost of each shipment he sends out. The funds are then directly provided to an organization focusing on rainforest conservation in the Amazon – a price which Smith is glad to pay to ensure end-to-end sustainability for his business. “In the grand scheme of things, I see sustainability not just as making massive technological advancements to improve the health of our ecosystems, but innovations at all ends of the supply chain,” states Smith. “Sure, it’d be great to get to a world where only sustainable materials are used moving forward… But we need to start being more conscious of what we can do now to make an impact, no matter how big or small. Any amount of effort is better than not making any attempt. ”

For all decisions that have been made for Wrong Generation, sustainability has been a top priority. From choosing 100% recyclable packaging, to finding post-consumer materials as often as possible, Smith has successfully gotten to a place where he can minimize his environmental impact. In most cases, using sustainable materials like post-consumer thank you cards, compostable mailing bags, or eco-friendly stickers – the cost of these items are higher. However, as more businesses like Wrong Generation create demand for such items, the more supply will be created, and ultimately the price will drop.

Stay tuned for more local ethical and sustainable business showcases and interviews on The Switch.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply