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Best practices for communicating on climate action

In a world where everyone seems to be talking about sustainability, it can be difficult to know how to stand out. Finding the right approach and cutting through all that noise while remaining credible is critical.

Join South Pole's communication expert, Kata Bors and Republic of Everyone's Founder, Ben Peacock, on Wednesday July 6th as they share insights into how to ensure that your work is aligned with the latest climate science and help you tell engaging stories about your impact.

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July 06, 2022 at 2:00pm
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Susanne Etti | Global Environmental Impact Manager at Intrepid Travel


May 2022

As the Global Environmental Impact Manager at Intrepid Travel, Susanne ensures that climate-consciousness is interwoven within all business operations and management structures. She goes the extra mile to produce open-access, industry-leading resources for other businesses to embed the same ethos in their own operations. 

Intrepid’s sustainability journey has been incredibly inspiring to witness. They are the world’s largest travel B-Corporation and the first ever global travel organisation to have verified Science-Based Targets. Intrepid has a seven-point climate action plan to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible, before credibly offsetting the rest. As a leader in community-based tourism, Intrepid supports local communities to build capacity towards their own goals - they even have a not-for-profit that accelerates sustainable development internationally. We at Better Futures wanted to learn more about Susanne’s climate journey and how she became so active in this space, having been inspired by her work. 

Susanne grew up in Germany and spent much of her childhood exploring Europe by train with her family. She became fascinated with the Alps, as her parents were avid skiers and hikers. Her family ingrained a sense of connection and respect for the environment in her, which made her more perceptive of changes in the natural environment. She recalled that each year, the glaciers seemed to be melting faster come summertime. 

I was always interested in the natural world, and I took a particular interest in biology at school…around that time the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest started to gain attention in the German media.”

She recalled how rapidly fast food chains were popping up around her hometown, and it clicked for her that the increased demand for animal agriculture was accelerating land clearing. Susanne became fascinated with how forests function as carbon sinks, and learned more about their crucial role in maintaining planetary health. This curiosity of the natural world in school led Susanne to pursue it further in tertiary education. 

I decided to study biology [at university] as it opened the door to the whole world; it shows us how human health is connected to the health of land, water and air.”

In her Master’s degree, Susanne conducted nascent research on how infectious diseases were spreading more rapidly due to climate change. The implications of climate change for human health, she said, were not well understood at the time. She was studying in Greece, where there was a particular concern about the rise of malaria due to the changing climate. Having discovered this to be a serious issue, she considered how other diseases may be on the rise for the same reason.  

I continued to do a PhD and moved on to look at Lyme disease, but it focused on the same problem…that ecosystems are changing and disease is spreading.”

Susanne worked throughout her degree for a carbon offsetting company; one of the first that was registered and had a rigorous methodology. She decided that she would like to continue working within the business community after graduating, as she saw a clear role for bringing climate science into the business sector.

After some time, her manager brought her along to a new climate consultancy group - Ndevr Environmentalto help build capacity on sustainable practice. They grew this group into a global network, educating around 400 practitioners on how to engage industry leaders on embedding sustainability within their businesses. 

We used a knowledge-sharing approach to accelerate learning.”

In 2008 Susanne moved to Australia, inspired by the traction that the climate movement was having here. 

Unfortunately, Australia then went backwards. Globally too, we went backwards because the financial crisis happened. There was no money for climate change. Businesses were investing in health and safety, which was primarily about social licence to operate - it wasn’t developed like it is today.”

A four year stint working in corporate sustainability taught Susanne more about how to engage with companies and get them registered with Dow Jones Sustainability Indices; which are best practice metrics for sustainable business. 

That was the link with how I got to Intrepid where I could continue my passion. I get to work with a business that is very committed and passionate about climate action with Darrell Wade.”

Susanne is always excited by her work, as she is able to push for greater action within Intrepid and set a high standard for the rest of the industry - providing others with the opportunity to follow in their footsteps. She has relished the opportunity to work within communities over her time living in six different countries, to embed sustainable business practices wherever she goes. For her, Intrepid is the pinnacle of all her work on climate in the business space. 

By empowering people through sustainable travel experiences, we can make travel better for everyone and simultaneously take care of our planet".

Intrepid has been operating for over 30 years and have over 800 trips across every continent, doing things the local way. Intrepid also gives back to the communities that make their trips possible through The Intrepid Foundation. Their not-for-profit has raised over $12 million for more than 130 charities around the world since 2002. 

According to Susanne, the need for climate action grows more obvious year on year. Not only is the changing climate leading to extreme weather events that threaten people and wildlife the world over, but it is a significant threat to their business. She reflects that many of the destinations they love may well be impacted by drought, fire, or other weather events over the next decade.

Susanne is currently working on calculating emissions factors for each element that comprises a trip, so they can break down carbon intensity at the product level. This will enable Intrepid to more accurately calculate the total emissions of each trip. The overall aim of the project is to move towards a carbon labelling system so that their customers can see what their options are. 

Sustainability itself is not a product, it’s embedded across all products.”

By providing their customers with different options, they are able to customise their own trips and better understand the carbon intensity of their options. For instance, many people may not consider the difference in carbon intensity between camping or staying in a hotel. Labelling these options brings greater transparency and thoughtfulness to travelling, she reasons. 

Susanne would like the Australian Government to implement policy that supports Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure development, as well as support for the uptake and availability of EVs more generally. It would, according to her, have a huge impact on reducing the carbon intensity of Intrepid’s journeys. Ensuring that the electricity generated for EV charging comes from a renewable source is also important, she mentioned. 

While Susanne joked that they were not leasing Teslas for their customers at this point, it was certainly a stimulating thought to consider - if Australia had fleets of EVs, imagine the impact that could have on the transport sector’s emissions, which is the third fastest growing source of emissions in the country and makes up 30% of all annual emissions. 

In January 2020, Intrepid declared a climate emergency with Tourism Declares, a global collective of tourism businesses, organisations, and individuals who have pledged urgent action on climate change. As a founding member they have spent a significant amount of time with this collective, bolstering community capacity to act on climate change. The collective now has nearly 450 members, and you can view Intrepid Travel’s declaration here

Susanne described how the tourism industry has taken a huge hit by the pandemic, and that many sustainability leads were lost as companies tried to reduce expenditure. She, along with others at Intrepid, took initiative to breathe life back into climate action within the industry. 

Their quick-start guide to help travel businesses decarbonise their operations and a carbon measurement tool for tour operators launched at The United Nations Council of Parties 26 (COP26). Intrepid partnered with Endeavour Environmental and Tourism Declares to develop this tool, as there is no one standardised methodology for setting SBTis in the tourism sector. The tool can also be used by any small business, as it provides general advice on measuring carbon emissions as well. 

Coming out of the pandemic and having the support of the United Nations Council of the Parties Glasgow Climate Pact, sustainability within the global tourism industry is getting back on track. Several international groups are putting energy behind revitalising sustainability practice, including Future of Tourism, One Planet and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). In particular, the UNWTO has the structure and capacity to monitor the commitments made by those within the tourism sector. 

Intrepid Travel was part of the launch party in Glasgow for the Glasgow Declaration for Climate Action in Tourism, helping to kickstart energy for this movement. Companies of all sizes are joining this initiative, demonstrating renewed commitments across the sector for sustainable practice.

 

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Adam Smith | Manager of Reef Ecologic


As the Managing Director of Reef Ecologic, Adam's vision for a better future for Australians involves "a better planet with coral reefs that are healthy and thriving because of collaborative care and management using the best available ideas and knowledge".

Read more about Adam and Reef Ecologic below.

Can you tell us more about Reef Ecologic?

Reef Ecologic specialises in providing expert advice to design and implement innovative solutions to environmental challenges facing tropical marine ecosystems and the people who love and depend upon them. We bring over 40 years of experience at the leading edge of coral reef science, management, and policy to provide insight, guide strategic actions, and build capacity among the leaders of today and tomorrow to secure a more sustainable future.

Read the Reef Ecologic Environmental Policy here.

Why is Reef Ecologic taking climate action?

We care about the future of our planet, country, and the local community, and recognise that action requires leadership and resources. We care deeply and wish to show that it is possible and beneficial to ensuring a better future for us all.

Can you tell us about your commitments to climate action? 

We are a climate-positive business. Our office operates on solar power and a Tesla battery, and we reduce our climate footprint by measuring our impact and offset.

Is there a project you are working on that you are excited about?

We are a drop in the ocean and would love to work with other scientists, artists, indigenous groups, businesses, and communities to empower them to achieve this goal as rapidly as possible.

What real-world opportunities have you uncovered from taking climate action today? 

Our reputation as a sustainable business has led to awards and certifications. This has led to the opportunity to advise large international corporations about climate vulnerability, climate policy, and actions.

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

Climate Positive Great Barrier Reef by 2025. This includes all businesses and government.

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Sasha Titchkosky

Co-founder and CEO at Koskela and Learn by Koskela, Chair of BCorp Climate Collective

Read more

Kayla Mossuto | Co-founder of Crema Joe


Kayla is the co-founder of Crema Joe, a company specialising in reusable coffee pods for retail and corporate sectors. The company’s ethos is all around ‘reuse’ and is working on an exciting new product launch using recycled plastic bottle caps. Kayla believes that we need to leave our earth a greener place for our children and children’s children.

Read more about Kayla and Crema Joe’s story here.

Can you tell us about Crema Joe

Launched in 2014, Crema Joe specialises in reusable coffee pods, assisting coffee capsule machine owners to reduce their waste and environmental footprint.

Why is Crema Joe taking climate action? 

We’re determined to leave our earth a greener place for our children and children’s children.

Can you tell us about your commitments to climate action? 

Our ethos is focused on “reuse.” This is ethos is carried across the entirety of our business. From top to bottom, we are committed to reducing our impact as a business with a focus on responsible & sustainable supply chain and utilising reclaimed materials wherever possible.

Is there a project you are working on that you are excited about?

We’re gearing up to launch a new product made entirely of locally sourced, recycled plastic bottle caps.

What real-world opportunities have you uncovered from taking climate action today? 

We’ve created our own closed-loop within our local community - we accept pre-loved packaging materials for reuse in shipping our eCommerce orders. Not only does this greatly assist us in reducing our own impact, it has also helped us to become an integral part in assisting our community to reduce their waste.

See: www.cremajoe.com.au/pages/recycling-programs 

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

Impactful legislative change. Australian politicians are not taking the issue of our changing climate and environment issues seriously enough. We can no longer ignore the facts. We must act now, and we MUST do better as a nation.

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Donna Cameron | Fashion stylist and ethical fashion advocate


Donna is a fashion stylist and ethical fashion advocate. Working in one of the most polluting industries in the world, her mission is to demonstrate that there are a myriad of ways to be an ethical fashion consumer. Donna says “there is no excuse for not embracing clothing that has minimal impact on the environment”.

Read the rest of Donna’s interview here.

Can you tell us about yourself

As a Personal Style Specialist, I love colour, fashion and good design. However social justice is equally important to me, as is the environment so I’m therefore an advocate for ethical and sustainable fashion.

Conscious of the fast fashion industry’s contribution to environmental degradation and socio-economic inequality, I encourage mindful purchasing, based on well informed choices. I’m also a proponent for quality, locally made fashion.

Although I specialise in introducing ethical, local and independent designers to clients, I believe the most sustainable approach comes from people understanding what motivates their own fashion purchasing and learning how to identify what works for them, thus reducing compulsive and excessive purchasing.

I enjoy sharing tactics with people so they can implement this and I do it in two ways; one is to work individually with clients.

Secondly, with my associate Briar Jasper-Batson, I host Fashion by Foot ethical fashion tours, taking people behind the scenes of independent fashion studios to show them how to make more sustainable fashion choices.

Why are you taking climate action? 

  • Fashion is one of the highest polluting industries and responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses. It is destroying the lives of animals, the people who make our clothes and the natural environment. We need to find better ways to engage with fashion.
  • The last few decades of fashion have been disastrous for the planet. We consume far too much of it at greater rates than ever before. Fashion has gone from being enjoyable and creative to something many people have stopped valuing. The work that goes into producing our clothes is no longer respected.
  • The schools strike for climate in 2019 has demonstrated that young people feel strongly about the sustainable consumption choices adults make.
  • The fires seen across Australia recently were terrifying and experts say climate change has contributed to them and that without swift action, it is likely to worsen. I need to be able to say to the small children in my life that I tried to do something to alleviate the pressure we’ve placed on the environment they’re inheriting.

Can you tell us about your commitments to climate action? 

My commitment to ethical and sustainable fashion is lifelong. Empowering people to identify clothing that suits their needs (and that they’ll love) is important to me. I aim to have clients emerge knowing more about themselves so they can take positive action into the future.

People know if they come to me for recommendations, I will direct them towards the best options for our planet.

My mission is to showcase the myriad styles of ethical and sustainable fashion available; there really is a style for everyone so there is no excuse for not embracing clothing that has minimal impact on the environment.

I will continue to introduce clients to independent designers who:

  • use deadstock fabrics (which larger companies would otherwise burn or send to landfill)
  • produce small runs (so there is minimal waste)
  • use natural fabrics and/or dyeing methods
  • are responsible in the way they dispose of any waste
  • are social enterprises, giving back to the community as part of their business model
  • design special pieces on demand
  • upcycle and remodel existing pieces to make new ones
  • embrace new technology for doing things more sustainably

Is there a project you are working on that you are excited about?

Our new program, ReFashion Your Footprint, is launching soon.

This exciting new program will extend people’s knowledge of ethical and sustainable fashion and give them the tools to understand what suits them so they can eliminate compulsive shopping and reduce their carbon footprint.

An online program held over several weeks, it offers:

  • an intro into ethical and sustainable fashion
  • knowledge of styles to suit their body shape
  • a directory of where to buy styles they like
  • interviews with sustainable designers
  • tips on choosing quality fabrics
  • how to care for clothes to ensure longevity
  • an understanding of colour theory
  • insight into sourcing vintage fashion
  • tips on upcycling and remodeling clothes

Plus of course, our Fashion by Foot tours will resume after what’s been an extremely difficult year for independent, ethical and sustainable designers. We look forward to introducing these designers to new audiences.

What real-world opportunities have you uncovered from taking climate action today? 

Interestingly, more clients are seeking me out because they want to reduce their carbon footprint. They’re asking me for strategies they can implement to streamline their wardrobes to become more sustainable. They want to learn what suits them so they can invest in quality pieces they’ll value and can keep instead of continually buying more fast fashion.

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

  • Substantial investment in renewable energy; we are lagging behind many developed countries and this could be a brilliant post-COVID recovery project for us
  • More incentives for local manufacturing
  • Further investment in waste recycling and repurposing
  • Regulation of imported and local fashion that is manufactured in ways that are detrimental to the environment.

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Anesley Clarke | CEO of B2C Furniture


Anesley is the CEO of B2C Furniture, revolutionising the way consumers purchase more sustainably made furniture. Anesley believes we must take climate action now for the sake of humankind and future generations. Read more about Anesley and B2C Furniture's story here.

Can you tell us about B2C Furniture

At B2C Furniture, we have a deep desire to make furniture with substance and style affordable to the environmentally conscious consumer. We have built the business from ground up focusing on three cornerstones at the soul of its existence; Hardwood Furniture that is sustainable and affordableThe difference between B2C Furniture and majority of its competitors is that we have a profound distaste for ‘fast furniture’ which ultimately end up in landfill. 

Our mission is to provide our Australian community with timeless, enduring furnishings, whilst offering excellent customer service. We make substance and style affordable by directly sourcing furniture from trusted manufacturers, cutting out the inflated mark-ups of the “middleman”.

Our sustainable hardwood timber ensures each customer receives the highest value products, whilst empowering our community with sustainable consumer habits and reducing the damage "fast furniture" has on our precious planet.

Why is B2C Furniture taking climate action? 

I grew up in a time where climate change, global warming and its consequences were first starting to be discussed. Fast forward 30 years, I'm now in my forties, and we are experiencing its adverse effects.

Scientists predict that by 2050 the Earth’s temperature will be three degrees higher, leading to severe, widespread and irreversible damage. Our society will have to cope with multiple disasters simultaneously – low lying areas underwater across the world and parts of our very own country inhabitable due to extreme heat. It is erroneous to think that this threat lies in the distant future so we need not care. It's happening right now. All around us. We need to act.

When my daughter was born, I suddenly saw the world in a new light. The awe-inspiring feeling of pure love, the enormous gratitude of being blessed with a life so precious, and the overwhelming feeling of wanting to protect her and her future.

The notion of leaving her a broken planet due to our wasteful, negligent lifestyle cut me to the core. What am I supposed to say when she grows up and asks, “How could you know this was going to happen and not do anything about it?” Hence, the reason I made a conscious decision to focus on sustainable hardwood timber which ensures each customer receives the highest value products, whilst empowering our community with sustainable consumer habits and reducing the damage "fast furniture" has on our precious planet.

Can you tell us about your commitments to climate action? 

Sustainability is no longer a buzz word. It is an integral part of lives and necessary to future proof our planet. With this in mind, we are in the process of establishing a program to gather statistics from various business to show that been green and sustainable is not only good for the planet but also good for business…

For example, “Couriers Please” recently conducted a survey which discovered that;

  • 46% of shoppers under 30 would be willing to purchase an ethical & sustainably sourced product at a higher price point
  • 87% of consumers concerned about the environment and request greater transparency from retailers
  • 9 out 10 consumers are more likely to purchase ethical and sustainable products if they had the option

We are using these stats to prove that there is a change in sentiment from consumers towards ethical and sustainable products to empower suppliers to rethink the materials they use to manufacture and package furniture.

Our belief is that if we could convince large global furniture manufactures to adopt ethical and sustainable practices there will be significant decrease in greenhouse gases and landfill and increase in recycling, which will help every single one of us blessed to inhabit this beautiful planet.

Is there a project you are working on that you are excited about?

In addition to the program listed above, we have taken a number of other business initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases including;

  • Encouraging employees to work from home or traveling car free. Cars are more polluting compared to other means of transportation like walking, biking or using public transport
  • Minimising our flying habits and using alternatives such as zoom to correspond with our overseas suppliers. Planes run on fossil fuels, and we haven’t figured out a scaleable alternative so avoiding this mode of transport as much as possible makes sense 

It can be said that making small changes to our lifestyle will not have much of an impact on climate change, but I don’t believe this is true. In fact, social scientists have found that when one person makes a sustainability-oriented decision, other people do too.

This occurs because we constantly evaluate what our peers are doing, and we adjust our beliefs and actions accordingly. 

No matter who you are, climate change will have an impact on your life, and we all must do what we can to future proof our planet.  

What real-world opportunities have you uncovered from taking climate action today? 

By focusing on sustainability as a key cornerstone of our business we have had the opportunity to build a community of like-minded consumers who share our values and beliefs. They actively promote our business to family and friends. We are in a privileged position where are customers are truly our advocates.

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

I believe Federal Governments worldwide can take action by divesting funds out of high-emission industries such as fossil fuels and reward business that;

  • Utilise renewable energy
  • Have documented business process/programs to proactively reduce climate change
  • Have an ethical & sustainable sourcing policy and audit suppliers to ensure resources such as timber are harvested from renewable forests 

Governments have an obligation to take care of its people. This can be achieved by encouraging or subsidising businesses to operate in a manner that will benefit all of mankind and protect our planet.

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Piers Mossuto | Founder of Precious Plastic Melbourne


Piers is the founder of Precious Plastic Melbourne, with a mission to turn waste into useful products and grow the Precious Plastic community in Australia. Piers believes that Australia cannot continue to ignore the facts on climate change, and that we must do better as a nation.

Read more about Piers and Precious Plastic's story here.

Can you tell us about Precious Plastic Melbourne

Launched in 2018, Precious Plastic Melbourne works with individuals and organisations, assisting community recyclers to set up their plastic recycling workspaces.

Why is Precious Plastic Melbourne taking climate action? 

Rather than sending it to someone else to deal with, we should be doing more to reduce, and deal with our waste right here in Australia.

Can you tell us about your commitments to climate action? 

We’re focused on helping local communities recycle traditionally ‘non-recyclable’ plastics into useful products. Aside from creating a circular economy and working towards a stronger local manufacturing industry, our team also focus on education, encouraging communities to find creative ways to salvage their plastic waste.

Is there a project you are working on that you are excited about?

We’re gearing up to launch our new Precious Plastic Melbourne website - here, everyday Aussies will be able to find the machines, tools, and information they need to help them recycle their plastic waste. We offer services such as manufacturing and tool making, as the industry just isn’t available to smaller scale, lower budget projects - it’s so important that these options are there for community recyclers.

What real-world opportunities have you uncovered from taking climate action today? 

We’ve created our own closed-loop within our local community. We’ve collected over 300,000 plastic bottle caps. We feel lucky to have become an integral part in assisting our community to reduce their plastic waste.

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

Impactful legislative change. Australian politicians are not taking the issue of our changing climate and environment issues seriously enough. We can no longer ignore the facts. We must act now, and we MUST do better as a nation.

Read More Stories


Join RE100 because this is a great thing to do

RE100 is a global initiative bringing together the world’s most influential businesses driving the transition to 100% renewable electricity. Led by the Climate Group and in partnership with CDP, our mission is to accelerate change towards zero carbon grids at scale. Companies in the commercial and industrial sector account for around half of the world’s end-of-use of electricity. We're switching this demand to renewable electricity.


Jordan Wilkes | Founder of Stride Store


Jordan is the founder of Stride Store, an online marketplace that showcases over 95 Australian ethical fashion brands. Jordan says that he would "love to see the federal government understand climate change. The question shouldn’t be ‘do you believe in climate change?' It should be ‘do you understand climate change?’"

Read about Jordan’s story here.

Can you tell us about Stride Store

Stride is a sustainable fashion retailer with over 95 Australian labels.

Why is Stride Store taking climate action? 

The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world. We all wear clothes, but not all of us consider the carbon footprint of our fashion.

We are tackling climate change through fashion because there is no planet B.

Small changes x millions of people = a global impact.

Can you tell us about your commitments to climate action? 

All our brands are vetted before joining Stride to assess their environmental commitment. We assess things like the materials used, packaging, use of resources, and even the couriers used.

We don’t necessarily have a target, such as being 100% carbon neutral. Rather, our goal is to provide a sustainable fashion alternative so Australians can shop better.

Is there a project you are working on that you are excited about?

We are about to launch our beauty range, which covers organic skincare, cosmetics, haircare, etc. Our goal is to become an Amazon-esque marketplace for everything sustainable and ethical in Australia.

What real-world opportunities have you uncovered from taking climate action today? 

We’ve found a plethora of Australians who are equally committed to protecting our environment. We’ve found that more and more people every day are taking small steps in becoming more eco-friendly, such as composting at home.

Sustainable fashion is a great one because we all wear clothes, but not all of our clothes is made in a sustainable manner.

What climate action would you like to see Australia take?

I would love to see the federal government understand climate change. The question shouldn’t be ‘do you believe in climate change?' It should be ‘do your understand climate change?’

The science is clear and we need our government to put tangible policies in place to protect our environment (and not their back pocket).

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