By Reed Shapiro
Two weeks ago Carbon Credit Capital had somewhat of a homecoming at the Green Festival Expo in New York City.
Just over a year ago I went to a volunteer-sign-up event pre-Festival thinking it was a meeting on programming for the event – turns out I was sorely mistaken. In any event, I told then not-quite-yet Regional Director Scott Luxor about CCC and what we do, and he agreed to arrange a quick meeting with Corinna Basler at the festival two weeks later. We spoke for about 2 minutes and then I heard nothing for several months, until one day I get an email from Dr. Basler herself asking to partner with us. Fast forward 1 year and CCC has now attended four of five shows held in that time (LA ’16, SF ’16, DC ’17, and NYC ’17). We have collectively offset the carbon footprint associated with the attendance of over 12,000 individuals, almost 20 exhibitor’s booths (granting them Carbon Neutral Exhibitor designation) and over 50 tonnes of carbon. Additionally, I have now lectured about the gaps in carbon emissions reductions we need to fill as a planet three times, and have been a judge for choosing the best brands exhibiting at the Festival for the Brand Awards in DC and NYC.
While 50 tonnes, in the grand scheme of things, is a minuscule drop in the ocean (considering the world emits about a net 35,000,000,000 metric tonnes of CO2-equivalent annually), there is a positive trend emerging indicating that CCC’s and GFE’s partnership is growing stronger. We have increasingly offset larger and larger portions of each Festival. Starting with 6 tonnes and ~9% of the Festival in LA, all the way to 22.35 metric tonnes and about 33% of the Festival’s estimated carbon footprint in NYC. The breakdown for NYC came to a final tally of 9 businesses who offset their booth for the weekend, and an equivalent of just over 3,200 individuals who offset their attendance for the day or the weekend. Furthermore, we are working tirelessly to ensure that either come next stop (LA September 23-24), or next year every booth package upgrade will include the cost to offset that exhibitor’s weekend, and will come with a Carbon Neutral Exhibitor certificate. Ideally this move will allow us to offset a much more significant portion of the show and work towards our end goal of making every single Green Festival Expo carbon neutral simply by filling booths and selling tickets.
This time around my co-workers Leo and Pianpian, who did a fantastic job of working the booth, accompanied me in collecting individual offsets as I ran around the festival pitching booth offsets, being a brand judge, and lecturing. What a luxury to have a team – and for a lawyer by training and a technical offset project professional, they both got a pretty damn good handle on selling offsets individually. Frankly, it always amazes me how few people know not a lick about anything we do, but how receptive they are to what we do and thankful they are for our doing it. This time around for the Brand Awards, Joy Nemerson (of TerraCycle) and I were recalled, but we had Abegail Steinberg (Author and national sales manager at WellNext) join us for what was a highly competitive, and narrowly differentiable decision on which of 5 companies to select as the best, most impactful brand.
Twin Pines, an ethically and sustainably sourced line of fabrics and fabric accessories, and Belle+Bella, a make-your-own-yogurt-at-home machine manufacturer rounded out our top 5, while Ornaments 4 Orphans (a simple toy and jewelry operation which provides jobs to impoverished workers without access to much or any income in Africa, the proceeds of which go towards finding homes for children who have either lost their parents, or whose parents could not support them, forcing them out of their homes), Woods and Whimsy, LLC (a clean-ingredient, vegan line of delicious smelling deodorants), and By God’s Grace Knits (BGG Knits, a Peruvian knitwear company that employs, educates and empowers women to use their knitting skills to create chic garments wearable all around the world) took 3rd, 2nd, and 1st respectively. (Long sentence there, sorry). This time around Abigail, Joy and myself took some time to create a more universal judging rubric (as discussed in my last post) – but it didn’t make it any easier because this crop of companies all had not only taken into account their environmental impact, waste stream, product effect on consumers, and benefits of employees within the supply chain, but they had all taken deliberate action to ensure these measures were implemented to their liking. So, while we had to choose a first, second, and third prize, in my opinion they are all very well deserving of recognition.
My lecture went pretty well – was able to fill the full 30 minutes allotted to me, as opposed to rushing through it like I did in DC, but there’s no video this time around, so you’ll have to refer back to DC’s recording, or shoot me an email or a phone call if you’d like to discuss. So – on that note, it is my honor to highlight those companies and individuals who took climate action on-site at the Festival over the two days, and who have earned themselves a Carbon Neutral Exhibitor certification for offsetting the carbon emissions associated with their booth. These business owners and even some employees all recognized how simple and inexpensive it was to offset their booth and gain this distinction, but more importantly, I feel it is important to promote these actors in an effort to show that positive action gets rewarded – they also make great products, offer fantastic services, and provide real care in their own right so do check them out:
Sister owners Tara Johnson, and Heather Walker have created what seems to be one of the only organic cotton brands that are made exclusively in the USA. Not only is the cotton organic, but the dyes are also phthalate and lead free, the hangtags are “plantable,” and all shipping materials are recyclable. Their entire MO is about supporting American farmers and manufacturers, and in doing so they have also built environmental protection, as well as consumer safety (they are clothing infants and toddlers after all) into every garment they sell. In their own words, “We care because we love to give back. We give to a number of charities and causes through our business because we want to make a difference. We want to inspire. We want to wake the happy in people.” Thus, when I mentioned to Tara and Heather that they could offset their booth for the weekend, their eyes lit up – it was effectively a no brainer for them. Kudos to you both, and here’s to hoping you can really capture and shape as much of this quickly emerging market as possible!
Live vessel was an interesting booth to encounter – the front was a green tea/matcha taste test, with a very fine presentation of preparation, however in the back of the booth and on the shelves were these fine ceramic “tumblers” – completely free of cadmium and lead – all specifically designed to provide an enhanced and thoroughly enjoyable drinking experience. Buried into this dream of providing an experience his consumers can feel good about, William Robinson (Founder) also takes into consideration the environmental impact of his products. Williams decision to offset his booth was similarly an “Aha” moment, where he saw an opportunity to show that not only the physical make up of his products is good for those consuming them, but that the way he presents his company is equally beneficial.
Amy at Ki Fitness – an NYC local! – was a pleasure to meet at Javits. A specialist in Ki energy, she gave me a complimentary Ki evaluation for stress levels – which I’m pleased to say, according to Amy were pretty low. We spoke a lot about life and love and loss – she did feel a blockage under my heart, which we ended up attributing to the very sudden loss of my mother in 2012 – and quite frankly offsets were almost an after thought, but when we did discuss CCC’s work she was very intrigued. Her work revolves around ridding the body of negative energy – our work revolves around ridding the world of negative derivatives of using energy (carbon emissions).
Maheen of MJ Lemon and I had an interesting time primarily discussing with, more so listening to, Brian Mac Mahon (of Expert Dojo) the ways in which MJ Lemon could really break the mold as an Apothecary company. MJ Lemon Apothecary prides itself on being a 100% toxic-free and cruelty-free skincare brand! They strive to bring their consumers ethically-sourced and responsibly sustainable products that are good for the consumers and for the environment. They think that it is important to keep their carbon footprint at its minimum, that is why they partnered with Carbon Credit Capital to offset their carbon emission at the Green Festival.
One of the Brand Award winners, Sandy of W&W was a pretty infectious positive personality! I am almost sure that the entire time she and I talked she had a smile on her face and intrigue in her tone. I have highlighted her product above, but considerable care had gone into how she formulated her product, and how it worked. And it does work – seemingly a whole lot better than the other “natural” deodorant lines out there. Add to this, the fact that Sandy cares as much about the (minimal) environmental impact of her products as she does their efficacy, making her booth carbon neutral for the weekend was like several other booths simply a “duh!”
This one may have been my favorite booth of the weekend. Earth Day Initiative is responsible for setting up a variety of Earth Day programs on and around Earth Day every year, and are right now campaigning for the Count Down to 50 (a count down to the 50th anniversary of the founding of ED). Earth Day Initiative promotes environmental awareness and solutions through partnerships with schools, community organizations, businesses, and governments. Its aim is to embody and carry the spirit of the original Earth Day into every day, whether that be by helping people source their homes with renewable energy or by offsetting the organization’s own carbon footprint. However, the interesting part of this highlight, is that no one in a management position was present at EDI’s booth – only some associates/reps (Mike and Libby), who decided on their own dime to front the $12 to offset EDI’s booth for the weekend. We had a few booth-associates/volunteers do this in DC, and it was really nice to see the trend continue in NYC – just goes to show that sometimes a little personal impetus is all it takes to make a difference. With their decision, they were able to gift EDI with this carbon neutral booth certification.
George is one of two people mentioned here who I have met previously. He and I met at one of the Green Festival Meet Ups (organized by now-Regional Director, Scott Luxor), where I learned about Idle Threat – his “vigilante” production and documentary about enforcing car idling laws in NYC which were designed to help reduce carbon emissions of over 1m vehicles, but which is also almost completely ignored by the NYPD. Since, we have begun to collaborate on a project that I will not disclose yet here, but what I can say is it has thus far been a fine pleasure to work with George. We caught up at the VIP Launch Party, and he said one of his first orders of business the next day would be offsetting his booth. He made good on his promise and was actually the first Booth of the whole festival to do so. If you haven’t already – go watch Idle Threat!
The second of two acquaintances I knew pre-festival via Green Meet Up, was Logan Cohen of Isokan. In their own words, Isokan Collective is a hybrid creative agency + production company, an assembly of different talents with one objective: using the power of marketing to elevate brands to a wider range of values.They chose to offset their carbon footprint because they understood that their actions have both internal and external consequences that need to be accounted for. By offsetting their carbon emissions, we are hoping to encourage others to consider the full life cycle of their actions, and inspire them to take action to reduce their impacts. Couldn’t have said it much better myself!
Yet another Brand Award winner (the #1 at that) showing that their commitment to the issues that matter and make a difference get you the recognition you deserve. I was very impressed with this company, and while it was a close call between BGG and Woods and Whimsy, BGG really took the cake because they are literally creating something from nothing. The women they employ and empower use an animal product without harming the animals in the least bit, they create a product by hand, and pretty much the only carbon emissions from their entire operation is shipping. Lean, green, social/woman’s rights machine. Offsetting their booth similarly was a snap decision – no convincing was necessary, Jen sees that this is just how business should be done, and so, this is how she does business!