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Kindhumans Profile: A few kind questions with Ali Rose VanOverbeke

Kindhumans Profile

Kindhumans Profile: A few kind questions with Ali Rose VanOverbeke

Genusee founder Ali Rose VanOverbeke shares her story of dedication to the people of Flint, MI and her ongoing mission to achieve a more sustainable future for our planet. We sat down with Ali to learn more. Enjoy! 

Why did you start Genusee?

Genusee was founded on the principles of doing good for people and planet in response to the Flint Water Crisis.

Tell us about Genusee

Genusee is a social enterprise that makes sustainable eyewear in Flint, Michigan from recycled plastic water bottles. Every purchase upcycles 15 single-use water bottles and helps us create jobs for returning citizens (individuals coming out of incarceration) in the local Flint community.

What motivates and inspires you?

 I’m motivated by the urgency of our climate crisis and inspired by my team in Flint and how they have persevered despite systemic challenges. 

What role does sustainability have in your life and your company?

Sustainability is at the core of our business model. Not only do we make our glasses from post-consumer single-use plastic bottle waste, but our glasses are designed for the circular economy. So when our customers are done using their glasses we can buy them back for a credit towards their next purchase and fully recycle them back into our material stream. 

Additionally, our entire supply chain is within an 80 mile radius of Flint (besides our hinges which come from Italy). We sew our polishing bags (made from 50% recycled bottles) locally in Flint at the NEW Life Center, and even our shipping boxes are made from recycled cardboard sourced in Lansing, MI and made in Bay City, MI. Typically supply chains are spread out across hundreds or thousands of miles, across countries and continents, but by sourcing and manufacturing everything so locally we are able to reduce our carbon footprint significantly compared to other businesses.

On a personal level I try my very best to live a zero waste and low impact lifestyle. I’m a human though, so I’m not perfect, but I try my best to refuse single-use plastic, I cook at home more often than not and source ingredients from our local Flint Farmers Market. I’ve even started collecting food scraps in my freezer and taking them to the Local Grocer who takes them to their farm for composting every few weeks. 

How do they educate and inspire others?

It may be cliché to say, but we try to educate and inspire others by walking the walk and being the change we want to see in the world. For me this looks like building authentic relationships in our community. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change someone’s world and that ripple effect is exponential.

What role does kindness play in your life? And what does it mean to you?

Kindness means treating everyone with dignity and respect regardless of how different your beliefs, opinions, or backgrounds are. Kindness is a golden rule I try to live my life by.

How do you show kindness?

I try to listen first, and act from a place of compassion and empathy.

What can we do to better ourselves?

Be kind to yourself too.

What is a message you want to spread and leave with the Kindhumans community?

“Better Every Day” – You don’t have to have it all figured out or be living the perfect sustainable lifestyle to be making an impact. Start small. Don’t be overwhelmed. Change doesn’t happen in a day. Keep taking a step forward. Every little effort creates forward momentum. You’re doing better than you think you are.

Author Profile:

Ali is born and raised in Michigan, growing up in Detroit and currently living in Flint. She ventured out to New York for 10 years but made it back to her home state. Ali’s unwavering passion for people and justice lead her to where she is today.

“Kindness is a golden rule I try to live my life by”- Ali Rose VanOverbeke

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