Q and A Series: People, Products and the Health of Our Planet – Interview with Brad Kornelson, Co-owner of True Earth Paper Corporation

For the seventeenth interview, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Brad Kornelson, Co-owner of Tree Earth Paper Corporation makers of Silk’n Soft Bathroom Tissue, Facial Tissue, Dragon Towels and Bamboo Trays in business since September 2012.

UPDATE November 2015

I was recently in touch with Brad via email, as I watched a interview on his site and mentioned he was a firefighter. Brad send me a response and also some great news about about current and upcoming products.

Brad’s reply

Yes I was a “volunteer” firefighter. The only difference between a volunteer and a career firefighter, is the call volume and the career FF is paid. Volunteers undergo the same training standards as career firefighters and they respond to the same fires, car accidents, medical aid calls etc. Did you know that 80% of all firefighters in the USA and Canada are volunteer. I was on the department for 11 years and responded to about 100 calls a year on average – so 11,000 in my time on the department. I was a Lieutenant for two years and then jumped ranks to Fire Chief overseeing 35 members and two fire halls. I held that position for 2 1/2 years when I finally left the department on good terms. After my departure, I began the toilet paper business. I learned many skills during my 11 years on the department, I was trained in structural firefighting, wild land firefighting, auto extraction, hazmat, confined space rescue, first responder (medical aid) & CPR. Many of those skills are still with me today and I actually used it during a plane trip from China to Vancouver when a gentleman in flight was experiencing chest pains and passed out. As there were no medical personal on board I identified myself to the stewardess as a retired firefighter/ first responder and we went into action. Fortunately the patient survived, and my involvement was generously appreciated by the Airline as they bumped me up into 1st class during the last 3 hours of the trip. The self confidence I developed while in the department has no doubt had an effect on the success of True Earth Paper. You will be please to know that this week we learned Ingles Food Market in North Carolina will be carrying Silk’n Soft. They are a 200 store chain and we have an appointment request to present our brands to Sprouts Farmers Market out of Arizona, they also have 200 stores and I think they are in the California area. We are now committed to moving into the USA market.

Below is a picture of our finished artwork for the unbleached, we hope to have it in production in Asia with in the next two weeks and 1st order landing in Canada 8 weeks from now and perhaps 12 weeks from now we may be selling it into the US market as we will be trying to get an appointment to present to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.

Artwork for newest unbleached Bamboo Bathroom Tissue

Artwork for newest unbleached Bamboo Bathroom Tissue

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Dialogue with Brad Kornelson, via email 2014

Mindy’s question:

Glad you were finally able to send the products to me.

I also remember hearing on the show Dragon’s Den Canada, you were presenting the product, that the paper is a blend with cotton. I do not if that is stated on your site because I did not see it there. I hope it is not conventionally grown, as that is laden with numerous chemicals and pesticides and may be worse then BPA in the recycled paper products – I am not sure about that.
Please let me know asap because this matters to me.

Brad’s reply:

There is no cotton in any of our products. Originally, we launched Silk’n Soft with 70% bamboo and 30% cotton blend – the cotton was collected from the textile factories as a by-product from their fabric production and was destined for the landfill, we intercepted the raw cotton and used it in the bathroom tissue for added softness. Although we were not growing cotton for this and we were preventing the cotton from being sent to the landfill, we still received many consumer inquiries about the cotton and have chosen to stop using it. We stopped this process about 2 years ago. If you are finding any pictures on the net of our product that speaks of the cotton, it is outdated – so once again, there is no cotton in our products.

Mindy’s question:

Appreciate it, so what else is in the bathroom tissue besides the bamboo, to make it soft?

Brad’s reply:

Currently, there is a 70% blend of bamboo and 30% blend of bagasse (sugar cane) but within about 8-10 weeks we are relaunching our brand again that will be 100% bamboo. The trick to making it soft, has a lot to do with the embossing process (the pattern on the tissue) and the drying process, Yankee dryers versus TAD (Through Air Drying) systems. TAD dryers blow warm air through the wet paper – which puffs up the tissue, whereas, Yankee systems apply heat as the wet tissue rolls over a drum and does not push air through the tissue. Our factory continues to up grade their technologies and we keep getting better and better. I should also point out that we will soon be launching “Silk’n Soft Natural” – made from 100% bamboo without any bleaching or whitening process, we are going to launch this sku slowly, as we need to change consumers expectations that their tissue needs to be white. See the attached picture for reference.

Embossing unbleached 100% bamboo bathroom tissue from True Earth Paper Corporation

Embossing unbleached 100% bamboo bathroom tissue from True Earth Paper Corporation

Mindy’s question:

I used the dragon towel today for the first time to clean the wood floor. I used it wet, of course, and it cleaned well and is strong, but the hair and lint gets embedded in the towel and does not come out so easily with a hand wash. I pulled out most of the hair by hand. I am wondering whether it will all come out when put in the washing machine and do not want the lint to go on the other laundry, as I would put it in with my clothes, etc. I could not waste water to wash it on its own in the machine, as that would defeat the purpose of having a less environmental impact on the earth.

Brad’s reply:

We use the Dragon Towel mostly for cleaning around the kitchen and bathroom. We also have a long haired dog and find hair everywhere, I have not noticed hair sticking to the Dragon Towel, but then I might be so use to seeing it everywhere that I haven’t noticed. As far as the lint goes, it should wash out in the laundry or stick to the Dragon Towel if it is well embedded. The first comment I usually get from customers once they realize they can put the Dragon Towels in the laundry is skepticism as they think lint from the towel itself will be all over their cloths, but I assure them that will not happen. Once they run it through the laundry and dryer they are surprised. Even though we say on the packaging – do not put it in the dryer, we do put it in the dryer here at home with no issues. But the dryer will shorten the life of the towel.

We also use the Dragon Towel (dry) on the Swiffer instead of Swiffer replacements and then put it in the laundry – no complaints from my wife. I wish I could give you a definitive answer – but all I can suggest is that you try it and let me know the outcome.

Mindy’s reply:

The dragon towel washed out just fine in the washing machine with my other laundry and I did put in the dryer, too.
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Question #1: Tell me briefly about yourself and why you decided to get involved in the “health” industry?

My background in the grocery industry began when I was 14 and was hired by a local retailer to stock shelves, working part time at 32 hours a week while I continued school through to grade 12 graduation. After graduation I began my adult working career in sales. Working in the sales field with various companies and in 1980 I was hired by Lever Brothers, known today as Uni-Lever. Uni-Lever was the equivelant to Proctor & Gamble, we were fierce competitors then and this was truly the beginning of the sales and marketing knowledge that I have acquired over the years. I have been an entrepreneur for most of my adult life and have been self-employed as a manufacturers representative for the grocery retail industry (food broker) since 1996. The grocery industry began to change in my market area as the club stores grew and acquisitions reduced the number of independent retailers. I knew my brokerage business would eventually become threatened unless I made a move to expand my area of expertise and market coverage. As a broker, I represented one of North America’s largest tissue manufactures and I understood the size of the market both in Canada and the USA. My intent was to develop my own brand of tissue made from recycled paper, primarily because of the environmental benefit and percievably a lower price point. While I was in the process of sourcing off shore manufacturers, I came across bamboo tissue being marketed in Australia. After beginning to study the benefits of bamboo, I quickly realized there was a potential opportunity that had not yet been explored by others for the Canadian market. We sourced the manufacture and opened up dialogue with them. Eventually my business partner and I traveled to China for a meeting and the rest is history. Although the original intent to introduce bamboo tissue was motivated by the “business opportunity” aspect – the course that we entered into became more relevent as 6 months later, at the age of 52, I was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. Unfortunetly that “C” word (cancer) is used to many times during patient diagnosis, and it has a way of wakeing a person up when they have been given a second chance. I consider myself very fortunate, the cancer was caught at an early stage, I have been treated and I expect to be around for many years to come – making this world a better place.

Question #2: If you were stranded on a desert island and were allowed to take only 5 items with you (they can be food, books or specific products that are all health-related), what would they be and why?

Water distiller, fishing line, machete, rope and a Moso bamboo culm. Water distiller to produce clean drinking water, bamboo culm to grow bamboo, it will grow 2ft in one day. On day two I can make a fishing hook from the bamboo. Within 3 to 5 years, using the rope for binding, I should have enough bamboo to build a raft and float away – assuming that I want to be rescued.

Question #3: What one message do you want to share with the people of this world that is crucial for their ultimate well-being and longevity?

Global warming in no longer a myth – we need to reduce our carbon footprint now! Some scientist believe if the world grew enough bamboo and stopped deforestation, we could “reverse” global warming.

Questions #4: If someone could afford to purchase only one product at this moment to start their journey towards better health (food or health-related), what would you recommend and why?

A pair of running shoes. Exercise does more for the body then anything else I can think of. A healthy body leads to a healthy and energized mind and soul. A strong body, mind and soul will create the “trickle down” effect spinning off desires and motivations to make more changes and to become involved in what is going on around you.

Question #5: Tell me more about your business/company and/or products you offer to the public to help them achieve optimal health and well-being?

True Earth Paper began with bamboo toilet paper and household cleaning towels also made from bamboo. We quickly realized the amazing global benefits coming from this fast growing and renewable resource. It is a member of the grass family, it is not a tree. Bamboo is grown without herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers, it consumes 3-5 times the amount of CO2 and produces 3-5 times the amount of oxygen then the equivelant stand of forests. The Moso bamboo used in pulp is not a food source for the panda. We are now launching meat and produce trays to replace Styrofoam or polystyrene trays. Polystyrene is extremely harmful to our environment and human health. True Earth Paper Corporation is a socially ethical company. Our factories go through an extensive corporate and social audit to ensure there is no child labor and all workers are treated well, paid fairly and have the right to collective bargaining.

Question #6: What are your hopes/aspirations/dreams for the future health of the people and the planet?

I have faith in mankind. I believe as history has shown, we have the ability to overcome every obstacle, every challenge set before us. The environmental issues are being addressed and awareness is growing. Organic food production and consumer demand for healthy alternatives continues to grow at vast rates. I believe our children are growing up and living in a healthier world – but we still have a long way to go. My dreams are to see these improvements benefiting all globally and lifting 3rd world nations out of poverty through more and stronger fair trade initiatives. Education is key to addressing and solving every issue, knowledge is powerful.

Question #7: Who is your greatest hero and why?

My wife will agree with me, it is not one but two… our son and daughter. They began their journeys at young ages, 17 & 18, independent of each other, traveled alone to other countries, some are 3rd world nations working with the impoverished. They learned about the world, teaching, building, assisting those who needed help. Collectively they have traveled to Uganda, Congo, Sierra Leone, Palestine, Haiti, Phillipines and Guyana. All stays were a minimum of a month and some as long as 3 months. Living in the same conditions as the locals and paying their own way.

Question #8: Is there anything else you would like to share with the public?

You can, change the world! You really can, you need the desire and belief in yourself. One of the most memorable motivational stories that I have read serves me today as I often fall back on the story found in “How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” – by Harvey Mackay
Quote/excerpt: Lesson 15
Believe in Yourself, Even When No One Else Does
Remember the four-minute mile? People had been trying to achieve it since the days of the ancient Greeks. In fact, folklore has it that the Greeks had lions chase the runners, thinking that would make them run faster. They also tried tiger’s milk—not the stuff you get down at the health-food store, but the real thing. Nothing worked. So they decided it was impossible. And for thousands of years everyone believed it. It was physiologically impossible for a human being to run a mile in four minutes. Our bone structure was all wrong. Wind resistance too great. Inadequate lung power. There were a million reasons. Then one man, one single human being, proved that the doctors, the trainers, the athletes, and the millions and millions before him who tried and failed, were all wrong. And miracle of miracles, the year after Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile, thirty-seven other runners broke the four-minute mile, and the year after that three hundred runners broke the four-minute mile. A few years ago, in New York, I stood at the finish line of the Fifth Avenue Mile and watched thirteen out of thirteen runners break the four-minute mile in a single race. In other words, the runner who finished dead last would have been regarded as having accomplished the impossible a few decades ago. What happened? There were no great breakthroughs in training. Human bone structure didn’t suddenly improve. But human attitudes did.

Think about the stonecutter: He hammers at his rock a hundred times without denting it. On the hundred-and-first blow, the rock will split in two. You know it is not that blow that did it but all that had gone before. You can accomplish your goals… if you set them. Who says you’re not tougher, smarter, better, harder-working, more able than your competition? It doesn’t matter if they say you can’t do it. What matters, the only thing that matters, is if you say it. Until Bannister came along, we all believed in the experts. Bannister believed in himself… and changed the world. If you believe in yourself, well, then, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish. So don’t quit. Don’t ever quit. – end quote.

You really can make a difference, a simple way is to commit to a lifestyle change. Buy organic, challenge corporations, write letters, send emails demanding a better, healthier product. Recycle, re-use and reduce. Teach your kids, or listen to them if they are teaching you.

To learn more about this company and their products: http://www.trueearthpaper.com

Also, check out my video review: http://www.youtube.com/TheRawsomeVeganGal

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