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Meet Rodrigo Veloso, Founder of O.N.E Coconut Water

Loco for coco? Keep reading for a healthy dose of Change Maker inspiration.

By Jessica Root
Brooklyn, NY, USA | Thu Apr 22, 2010 01:55 PM ET

photo of Rodrigo Veloso

Rodrigo Veloso, Founder of O.N.E.
O.N.E. Natural Experience

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Change Makers | Drinks | Fruit | Health

Being a crazy coconut water fan, I was psyched for the opportunity to hear directly from Rodrigo Veloso--one of the lead influences on the sudden rise in the beverage's popularity. After earning his MBA, Rodrigo made a firm commitment to the idea of conscious capitalism and founded O.N.E. Natural Experience--a line of healthy, all natural, sugar-free drinks. Coconut water is truly nature's Gatorade, containing five essential electrolytes and more potassium than a banana--without all of the scary dyes and hard-to-pronounce ingredients.

Beyond this, however lies a deeper green, lesser-known story that gives Rodrigo his deserved Change Maker title. Having lived on a farm in Brazil, he saw how coconut water was often discarded in favor of the milk, meat and fiber of the nut--as were the fruits of the coffee bean, cashew nut and acai berry. What others considered waste or discard--he saw healthful super-fruits that could benefit the environment, the farmers and consumers like us.

What was your "a-ha" moment?
Growing up in Brazil I was constantly surrounded by wonderful fruits and berries that were delicious and very healthy. Later in life, I learned how parts of these amazing foods were thrown away, while the other more lucrative parts were used for food and industrial production. My a-ha moment was the idea to utilize these amazing super fruits in their entirety; I founded O.N.E. with this in mind.

Who is your green hero?
Al Gore. He continues to bring awareness of global warming to millions of people globally in an accessible, easy to understand yet trusted and passionate way.

What is your ultimate green goal?
To eliminate all perfectly manicured, green grass golf courses in water-scarce parts of the US and world. Tremendous and wasteful amount of fertilizers and water are needed to maintain them.

What is your motivation?
The awareness that every individual has a responsibility and ability to try to make a better and environmentally healthier world.

What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?
Sustainability.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Managing the roller coaster of a young, fast growing company. In the same day we will celebrate a success in the morning--and by the afternoon cry because of the stress of some crisis.

What is the most rewarding?
Knowing that we're selling genuinely good, healthy products and improving the lives of all my stakeholders--farmers, consumers, and shareholders.

Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?
My wife Emilie, who is also my business partner--she continually brings balance to the company and my life.

What green thing do you do everyday?
I walk to work as often as possible, recycle and try to make business decisions that will improve our world.

What is your biggest eco-sin?
I have traveled by plane over 150,000 miles this year alone.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Bring consciousness to capitalism.

What is your best green advice?
Be aware that every person's small actions count.

Change Makers is series of interviews with people famous and obscure who are creating a more sustainable world through their work. Meet more Change Makers here.

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