Measure, Reduce, Offset. That's the simple formula for Climate Neutral, a new label that certifies the commitment of a brand to track, and lower, their carbon emissions. Austin Whitman and Caitlin Drown join us to talk about the future of brand trust, consumer expectation, and even a little bit of speculation on how offsetting today can change the world tomorrow. Listen now!

Show Notes

Main Takeaways:

  • Phillip is joined in today's episode by Austin Whitman and Caitlin Drown from Climate Neutral.
  • Climate Neutral is a movement intended to help brands quantify and then reduce their carbon footprints.
  • Consumers are driving the economic engine, so it's imperative to make your voice heard to encourage positive changes in your favorite brands.
  • How can you offset your carbon footprint enough to be carbon neutral?

Reducing and Offsetting Carbon Footprints: The Climate Neutral Initiative:

  • Future Commerce joined the Climate Neutral movement back in October of this year.
  • Climate Neutral is a young, non-profit organization that exists with the sole purpose of helping businesses understand what their carbon footprints are, take meaningful actions to reduce those carbon footprints, and then offset the entirety of that impact on the environment.
  • People simply don't understand where carbon emissions come from and what to do about them.
  • Climate Neutral is creating a label that will be placed on products to let consumers know that brands have gone through the Climate Neutral process.

Why Start at Retail?: Making the Biggest Impact:

  • Climate Neutral started with retail because consumers are what drive the economic engine by buying products and services.
  • The two brands that funded Climate Neutral were BioLite and Peak Design who both realized that there are limits to how much they can reduce their carbon footprints, but that's not the limit to what you can do.
  • There needs to be a strong signal to companies that doing something to reduce your carbon footprint is an economical investment.
  • Climate Neutral is working with brands that many consumers would already know such as Kickstarter and Allbirds.

Spreading the Message: Making an Impact on Social:

  • Caitlin has noticed that a lot of large influencers on Instagram that aren't associated with one of Climate Neutral's brands have been promoting Climate Neutral of their own accord.
  • Sharing the story is encouraging influencers and brands to get involved and taking action in a transparent way.
  • Transparency is a major factor in gaining the trust of consumers.
  • The brands that sign with Climate Neutral are validating Climate Neutral as much as the initiative gains credibility from the brands' involvement.

What is the Goal?: Strategic Brand Partnerships:

  • Goal #1 is to understand and capture a large amount of carbon within the brands that Climate Neutral is representing.
  • The label will only be provided to companies that have measured their carbon footprint, taken measured action towards things that will reduce that carbon footprint, and finally offsetting the entirety of their measured footprint.
  • In addition to making a big carbon impact, another goal is to mobilize a new wave of brands to build carbon reduction into their strategies.
  • When people go through the process, they are going to have a carbon imprint, so a measurable amount of carbon indicates how much that brand should put back into the erasure of their footprint.

Transparency and Education: Armed With Knowledge:

  • If someone wants to look into the particular actions that a company is taking, that information will be available online.
  • This data will give brands insight into what other brands are doing to reduce their footprint.
  • Climate Neutral is going to make it easier for companies to estimate what their carbon footprint is.
  • Most companies have no idea what their carbon footprint is, and will be able to use a tool via Climate Neutral to get a better understanding.

Real Life Feedback: What are Brands Saying?:

  • Tapping into the network if reputable and respected brands are helping give Climate Neutral the stamp of approval.
  • Climate Neutral did their first official launch in June where they had Alex Honnold serving as a moderator for a panel, and he initially didn't believe in carbon offsetting.
  • Because of Kickstarter and various PR efforts, Climate Neutral has been able to enter the discussion at a higher level and volume that Austin has ever seen.
  • Even if there are those who are more skeptical about carbon offsetting, the validation from so many sources has led to articles being written on both sides of the debate.

Expanding Reach: Influencing Consumers and Companies:

  • Consumers need to get excited about the carbon offset label and brands have to get excited about the process and wearing the label.
  • The main reasons why companies aren't doing carbon offsetting are that it is not in the budget or there is a stigma around offsetting in general.
  • Smaller companies tend to have fewer levels of approval to approve the initiative, so the goal is to eventually get approved by large, billion-dollar corporations.
  • We need to do far for than what we are currently doing when it comes to addressing climate change.

Looking in the Past to Move Forward: Learning from the Past:

  • We are so far from bending the carbon curve to neutrality that we have to start somewhere.
  • It's possible that neutrality will eventually lead to positivity.
  • If brands define their footprint far enough, it extends to other brands, and if these overlapping footprints become neutral, then that equates to positivity.
  • Reduce the barriers for companies trying to get on this path and increase the expectation for what neutrality is.

The Digital Commerce Shift: A Positive Impact?:

  • One-day shipping is a great convenience, but chances are that that shipment came on an airplane that comes with a much larger carbon footprint.
  • There is a ton of data to measure against whether there is a larger carbon footprint for traditional retail experiences or online shopping.
  • We should not assume that just because stores are not physically there that there will be a smaller carbon footprint to accommodate the online shopping experience.
  • Do retailers that are digitally native have a smaller carbon footprint?

Next Steps: How to Get Involved with Climate Neutral:

  • First and foremost, if you want to get involved with Climate Neutral, you should back the Kickstarter Campaign.
  • Contributing at certain levels will actually offset someone else's carbon footprint for the year.
  • Reach out for any questions you may have to info@climateneutral.org.
  • As a consumer, call out your favorite brands and ask them to look into the certification and offset their carbon footprint.

Brands Mentioned In This Episode:

As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! What are some steps you can take today to get a better understanding of your carbon footprint?

Let us know in the content section on Futurecommerce.fm, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin.

Have any questions or comments about the show? You can reach out to us at info@futurecommerce.fm or any of our social channels, we love hearing from our listeners!

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