Woman in Innovation: Jo Clay
"I can't think of a better way to spend my time."

Each Wednesday we interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries everyday!

What are you working on?
Send and Shred is The Green Shed’s latest recycling venture, a secure shredding and recycling service for households and small businesses.

Customers buy an empty shred bag on our website at www.sendandshred.com.au. They fill the bag with up to 5kg of paper (two reams) and lodge it in any post office, anywhere in Australia. We have the contents securely shredded and recycled using Shred-X’s secure transport and destruction facilities.

Big companies use commercial shredding services, but until Send and Shred, there was no service for households and microbusiness. They had to shred sensitive papers themselves or toss them in the bin. But home shredding is fiddly and it doesn’t recycle. Throwing personal data in the bin is a big risk, with 1 in 5 Australians falling victim to identity theft. We knew there had to be a better way.

We launched in Canberra in June 2018. We’re hoping to expand Australia-wide in 2019.

Why is innovation important to you?
Einstein said, ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’

Our world has some big challenges ahead, with a growing population, a destabilising climate and rapid cultural and technological change. We need new ideas to help us adapt and overcome.

What drives you to make a difference?
I am a passionate environmentalist. Startups are hard, but this is what drove me to persist with Send and Shred. My company is replacing a poor product that creates waste with a good service that recycles. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.

Most paper shredded at home ends up in landfill. While recycling facilities can process whole pages, they can’t recover shredded paper, so it is sent to landfill. The paper generates methane in landfill, a powerful greenhouse gas. The shredders themselves also end up in landfill. We estimate that home shredding sends 11,000 tonnes of paper and 10,000 tonnes of shredders to Australian landfill each year and generates around 36,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas.

Do you have any advice for getting more women into the innovation ecosystem?
Be selfish.

Drive and creativity are inherently selfish impulses. They’re a statement that you can do something no one else has done. But if you’re too busy looking after everyone else, you won’t have the time, energy or money to do those amazing things you know are worth doing.

As well as working, women are often asked to be the primary housekeeper, caregiver and volunteer. Share it. It needn’t always be wife, mum, sister or daughter taking the load.

My preschooler went on her first excursion this week. I was busy, so my partner and another dad took the day off to help out. They had a great time and twenty kids learned that dads have a role, too.

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