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Gamechangers in Sustainability Series Kicks Off with Organic Food and Drink Visionary

Seth Goldman of Honest Tea, Beyond Meat, and Eat the Change, joined Kogod School of Business Dean David Marchick for a one-of-a-kind series’ inaugural fireside chat.

Seth Goldman Event

Kogod School of Business dean David Marchick and Eat the Change cofounder Seth Goldman.


The Kogod School of Business kicked off a new, one-of-a-kind speaker series this February by welcoming the entrepreneur behind a familiar brand—and a new line of fast-growing, sustainable products—to campus.

Dean David Marchick moderated the February 22 discussion with Seth Goldman in front of a sizable in-person and virtual audience.

Once the cofounder of Honest Tea, Goldman now lends his expertise in scaling planet-friendly food and beverage products as chairman of the board of Beyond Meat while rapidly growing his newest company, Eat the Change, known for its innovative and healthy organic carrot and mushroom-based snacks, as well as a new line of sustainable tea sourced through fair trade.

“You are truly a gamechanger in sustainability,” Marchick told Goldman during the hour-long discussion.

It was an accolade fitting for the occasion. Their conversation served as the inaugural edition of Kogod’s new Gamechangers in Sustainability series, which in partnership with AU’s Sine Institute of Policy and Politics, examines how the most innovative leaders work to create a more sustainable world.

Demonstrating how his company so precisely fits the mold of that mission, Goldman first showed the audience a video from his leadership team’s recent visit to the east African country of Mozambique, to a village hundreds of miles away from major pollution sources that are deeply connected to one of Eat the Change’s fastest-growing products: Just Ice Tea.

“We literally will go anywhere in the world to find the world’s best teas,” Goldman says in the video, which depicts how the company's tea from gardens in Mozambique is cultivated using irrigation-free techniques and natural, high-nutrient fertilizer.

“You wanted to be a changemaker,” Marchick pointed out to Goldman as the discussion started. “Why business, and not non-profit? Why not government?”

It came down to Goldman’s hope to impart lasting impact, noting his fear that any legislation he might enact as a politician could easily be undone by a subsequent crop of elected officials.

I felt that if something could take hold in the marketplace, there’s a better chance of it continuing.”

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Seth Goldman

Sustainable Food Entrepreneur

It’s a theory, Goldman believes, proved true over the lifespan of perhaps his best-known product to date: Honest Tea, which achieved its early growth in the nation’s capital region in the late 1990s—at a time when far fewer consumers considered the environmental implications of what they ate or drank.

As Honest Tea’s growth accelerated, Goldman and his business partners decided—more than a decade ago—to sell the product to Coca-Cola.

Though the beverage giant decided to shutter the product last year, Goldman feels it ultimately was a success, having proven it’s possible to proliferate a beverage with Honest Tea’s dual health and sustainability attributes.

“The mission had always been to democratize organics, not just to sell healthy food to healthy people,” he told the audience. “We wanted to be available everywhere.”

That philosophy provided the perfect basis for one senior Kogod student’s question since Goldman is now, again, rapidly growing a line of organic teas—in many ways, filling a void left by Honest Tea’s demise.

“Would you make the same decision that you did with Honest Tea if, say, another conglomerate were to approach you, wanting to buy?” the student asked of Goldman’s new Just Ice Tea.

“Impact is going to govern all my decisions,” Goldman answered.

I’m always going to look for the way to have the highest and deepest impact with what we build.”

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Seth Goldman

Sustainable Food Entrepreneur

For those hoping to make such an impact themselves, Goldman encouraged prospective entrepreneurs to focus, first and foremost, on building a viable business model centered around a truly novel product. But, he said, embed the bigger-picture vision—be it sustainability, equity, or otherwise affecting change in the world—into the very fabric of the product to eliminate a daily ‘push and pull’ over profits and living up to the company’s mission.

“When I embed that mission into the bottle,” Goldman said of Just Ice Tea, “I never have to think about it. I know it happens with every product."

As Kogod seeks to build a more sustainable world through business, understanding how leaders think outside the box to strike that balance is a critical consideration in programs like the Master’s in Sustainability Management and will be a continuing focal point during upcoming Gamechangers in Sustainability Series events.

The next fireside chat takes place on March 3, when Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano visits campus to discuss how the hotel conglomerate has become a leader in sustainable hospitality.

Moderated by Dean Marchick, the hour-long conversation will begin at 9:45 a.m. ET. Registered audience members can attend in-person or virtually.