Seth Goldman spills the tea on social impact at Kogod’s Gamechangers in Sustainability series
Goldman brewed up a batch of positivitea
Seth Goldman, founder of Honest Tea, Just Ice Tea and Eat the Change, opened the Kogod School of Business Gamechangers in Sustainability series alongside Kogod Dean David Marchick on Feb. 22. Goldman’s talk focused on his renewed insights on helping people and the planet.
Every student was given a copy of Goldman’s 2013 graphic novel, “Mission in a Bottle,” a telling story of the joys, trials and challenges of his company creations, and every chair had tea, snacks and a coaster for attendees.
“I appreciate us having the book here for people. Somebody brought the book up to me and said ‘you know this reads like a horror story,” Goldman said.
Goldman’s tea journey began in the late 1990s when he couldn’t find any “just sweet enough” drinks in a cooler after a run. Then, his first company, with the help of his former professor Barry Nalebuff, who co-wrote “Mission in a Bottle,” was born. Shortly after Goldman created “Honest Tea,” Coca-Cola purchased the company. However, in the spring of 2022, Coca-Cola discontinued Honest Tea.
Undiscouraged, Goldman, Nalebuff and celebrity chef Spike Mendelsohn, created and launched Just Ice Tea, only 90 days after Honest Tea ceased manufacturing. Now, Just Ice Tea is supplied at Whole Foods and other grocery stores across the country.
Along with Goldman’s best-selling tea, his 2017 company Eat the Change explores the impacts food has on communities and the environment and continues to experiment with other plant-based products.
“Eat the Change is founded around a call to action,” Goldman said. “What we do, what we eat is the single biggest environmental act we take every day.”
Although tea is what he specializes in, he continues to explore mushroom-based jerky snacks and cosmic carrot snacks — a snack attendees got a chance to try.
Throughout the event, Goldman kept true to his “mission in a bottle,” the social impact issues he and his companies stand with. There was a short, educational video featuring a recent visit to his fair-trade tea supplier in Mozambique and the impact he and his company have there.
“Every time we buy a pound of tea leaves, a portion of the sales goes back to that community and they can invest in the schools you saw or buy an ambulance, whatever the community deems their needs are. You can have such a huge impact in a community like that,” Goldman said.
Goldman’s persistence, and his passion for his company, the people and the planet, were evident in every answer.
“It’s meaningful to be the best-selling team in the natural foods industry, but the goal is to democratize this. Not just healthy, wealthy people should have access to organic and healthier drinks,” Goldman said.
This article was edited by Kylie Bill and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Stella Guzik.