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What is Clever Carbon and what do we do?

Our goal at clever carbon is to teach people about their carbon footprint in a hip and relatable way.

Think about it. When you’re buying an item at the grocery store, you can make a decision based on nutritional content, branding, price – why not carbon footprint?

In fact, many innovative and hip brands like Oatly and Allbirds are paving the way and already including carbon footprint data directly on their packaging or website.

By teaching people about their carbon footprint and helping them realize they have one in the first place, carbon footprint data will actually be relatable and useful. Consumers will become #carbonliterate, and #carbonlabels will become mainstream. The hope is that as consumers become increasingly #carboncurious, more brands will see the value in publishing their carbon footprint, leading to increased transparency and accountability by all.

We also feel that enablement shouldn’t be complex or drab, that’s why we merge pop culture with our super cool branding to make the learning process relatable and enjoyable! For example, we have a Spotify playlist where we collect jams dedicated to CO2.

Since launch at the end of July 2020, we’ve had more than 18,000 completions of our 2 min quiz to help people get their annual carbon footprint. We also have assembled a team of 6 volunteers (and growing!), and we’ve got people from Stella McCartney to Nestle and Oatly following our LinkedIn page!).

Ultimately, we want to enable #clevercarbondecisions for all. We want to revolutionize Carbon Footprint Literacy and Climate Action, and make information relatable and easy for consumers.

 

Here are some examples of our work so far:
2 min carbon footprint quiz

Key to our mission is our 2 min carbon footprint quiz where anyone can find out their annual carbon footprint by answering 6 simple questions. Users will get a personal carbon footprint badge that is super cute, comes in 3 different colours, and is easy to share to social media. This helps raise awareness on personal carbon footprint and drive more individuals to take the quiz. We’ve taken this a step further, partnering with hip brands including Pantys, Modibodi, and Aether Diamonds, to help spread the message and knowledge to more consumers. Each badge from our brand partners is unique and created in collaboration! See examples of all of them here!

The Coffee Menu

The coffee menu contains the carbon footprint of each item instead of the price or calories. It’s completely free, can be printed out and framed, and placed in the kitchen to help raise awareness and curiosity around carbon footprint. It also looks super hip and cool!

Clever Team Building

A team-building session that is fun and educational and really helps employees embrace carbon footprint in a non-intimidating way.


Our Founder, Michelle Li – From Silicon Valley to Saving the Planet

Michelle Li is the founder of clever carbon. She launched her career in Silicon Valley where she worked for some of the biggest names in tech including Salesforce and DocuSign. A proponent for making sustainability the new norm, Michelle founded clever carbon to help teach people about carbon footprint in a hip, fun, and relatable way. She is a TEDx and SXSW 2022 speaker on the topic of carbon literacy and believes that a carbon literate society is one where transparency and accountability will flourish and one worth striving for. 

Her big focus is partnering with companies to help them incorporate more sustainability practices in company values and ultimately product and services. 

What was your inspiration behind starting clever carbon?


“First of all, I felt like there was not enough content out there with a marketing and branding perspective for sustainability. It became apparent to me that in business, we were yet to think about how to make sustainability accessible, fun, and attractive”.


“Secondly, I asked myself – what can we concretely teach consumers? There is already a lot of content out there on more climate-friendly habits, but we have no way to quantify it. When I started learning about carbon footprint and carbon labels, I immediately wanted to see more of them, to create transparency and accountability. To do that, I had to teach people what carbon footprint is, while also making people want to learn”.

What spiked the idea of carbon literacy for you?


“I had a different startup name and idea, to begin with. It was going to be more like a sustainability-focused Refinery 29. At the time I was living in London, and every Monday I would walk by the canal and I would see all these cups, takeout containers, spilling out of the garbage cans. And it hit me – everyone knows that single-use items are bad, but how bad is it? That’s when I started learning more about carbon footprint”.


“I started making mockups and content showing people what impact their actions had. I realized that what we can quantify, we can change. The human brain understands numbers, and no matter how small the impact, we don’t like accumulating “points”, whether calories or carbon footprint, when it’s in a negative context. This is exactly what clever carbon wants to highlight, in a motivating and positive way”.

Bringing carbon literacy to SXSW 2022!

This year’s South by Southwest conference and festival will be hosted in Austin, Texas from March 11th to March 20th – and our founder, Michelle Li, is speaking there

“An essential destination for global professionals, the annual March event features sessions, music and comedy showcases, film screenings, exhibitions, professional development, and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together”.
SXSW

Our talk is titled Carbon Footprint and the Future of Consumer Brands. It not only features Clever Carbon’s founder, but also Sandra Noonan from Just Salad and Emily Ewell from Pantys, climate-friendly businesses that we love! Last but not least, it’s hosted by world renowned Ocean Photographer and Conservationist Cristina Mittermeier.

Attendees will learn about carbon footprint, how brands are carbon labeling, and the future of carbon footprint literacy.

If you are a journalist who will be attending SXSW either in-person or virtually, and would like to speak to Michelle about all things clever carbon, we would love to meet you!

Consumer brands envision a more transparent future with carbon labels at SXSW 2022

Consumer brands lead an innovative panel discussion on the value of carbon labels in Carbon footprint and the future of consumer brands

NEW YORK (FEBRUARY 2022) – Consumer brands join the acclaimed South by Southwest Festival line up leading a panel discussion on how companies are leveraging carbon literacy to empower brands and consumers to make informed decisions and conscientiously impact their carbon footprints.  Taking place on 16th March in Austin, Texas, Carbon Footprint and the Future of Consumer Brands explores carbon footprint literacy and advocates for carbon labels to ensure greater transparency and accountability. With the goal to empower consumer decision-making with transparency, carbon labels are comparable to nutritional labels found on food, but detail C02e emissions data throughout the lifecycle of a product or service.

The panel has an incredible roster of women who are at the helm of brands who champion carbon labeling, including Michelle Li, Founder of Clever Carbon, Sandra Noonan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Just Salad, Emily Ewell, Founder & CEO at Pantys and moderator Cristina Mittermeier, Co-founder and President at SeaLegacy & Only One, As a carbon literacy and climate advocate, Michelle Li has made it her mission at Clever Carbon to educate various stakeholders on carbon emissions and make #clevercarbondecisions. “What you can quantify and measure, you can change. Instead of terms like sustainable, or good and bad, having numbers and sharing data allows consumers to make their own decisions and conclusions.” She has also published a Carbon Labelling Guide to help businesses understand the process, costs and benefits of carbon labeling.

At Just Salad, Chief Sustainability Officer Sandra Noonan has led the company’s groundbreaking carbon labeling initiative, explaining: “The rationale for carbon labels is simple: The food system contributes over a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, food is a powerful tool for individuals who want to address climate change in their daily lives. At Just Salad, we have created a Climatarian menu category consisting of meals with low carbon footprints, based on their carbon labels.”

As a pioneer in carbon labeling in the fashion industry, Emily Ewell, Co-Founder of Pantys believes that labeling is just the first step for brands on their carbon-literacy journey: “Everything we consume should have carbon labels to help us make better choices as consumers.  Although we use our labels to offset 100% of our product emissions, the insights in the assessment process are critical to help us understand the impact of our raw materials, production processes, and logistics and, more importantly, identify opportunities to continuously reduce our carbon footprint going forward.

World-renowned conservationist and photographer Cristina “Mitty” Mittermeier believes that the key to unlocking critical action to help heal our ocean and save our planet lies in giving people hope, and concrete ways to take action.  “Too often, the very real threat of climate change can feel either distant or overwhelming — robbing the allies we need of their drive to take action,” says panel host Cristina Mittermeier, Co-founder President at SeaLegacy & Only One. “People need tangible ways to engage, and carbon labeling is a useful tool in empowering both consumers and climate-conscious brands. This is going to be a dynamic and informative panel of allies engaged in a timely discussion about how the choices we make as consumers, leaders and influencers impact our planet and the economic opportunities that come with climate action.”

SXSW® is best known for its conference and festival that celebrate the convergence of tech, film, music, education, and culture. Taking place from 11th – 20th March in Austin, Texas, the festival proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together.


Panel: Carbon Footprint and the Future of Consumer Brands
Date: 16th March
Time: 4.00pm – 5.00pm CT / 10.00pm – 11.00pm GMT
Location: Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon G
Panelists: Emily Ewell, Co-Founder, Pantys; Michelle Li, Founder, Clever Carbon; ; Sandra Noonan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Just Salad and moderator Cristina Mittermeier, Co-founder and President at SeaLegacy & Only One

 

This panel is suitable for all audiences. Attendees will learn about carbon footprint, how brands are carbon labeling, and the future of carbon footprint literacy.  Find out more at https://schedule.sxsw.com/2022/events/PP112448 

 

-ENDS-

About Pantys
Pantys is the leading femtech fashion brand in health and sustainability. As a certified B Corporation, Pantys is always looking to maximize environmental impact, and they were the first lingerie brand to launch carbon labels, making their entire product portfolio 100% carbon neutral. Transforming the market through reusable innovations for menstruation, maternity, and incontinence, Pantys delivers the best in design, fashion, and functionality with the only clinically approved liner technology worldwide. As pioneers in the menstrual underwear category, they have developed the largest portfolio of products that eliminate the need for single-use and disposable hygiene products including the first absorbent leak-proof nursing bra globally; trans boxers for men who menstruate; absorbent swimwear and activewear; “value” products for pharmacy channels; and an incontinence line with the highest reusable absorption (100mL) of any apparel available in the global market. Pantys innovates through unique omni-channel and retail experiences including branded flagship stores and a global network of resellers in Brazil and Europe, including Selfridges and Galeries Lafayette.

About Just Salad
Just Salad is a fast casual concept with a mission to make everyday health and everyday sustainability possible. Empowering customers to eat with purpose, Just Salad is home of the world’s largest restaurant reusable program and the first U.S. restaurant chain to carbon label its menu. The company was founded in 2006 in New York City and has 50  locations across New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, as well as Dubai. Learn more at justsalad.com.

About Clever Carbon
Our goal at clever carbon is to raise carbon footprint literacy in a hip and fun way. By understanding and quantifying our impact through carbon footprint data, consumers can make informed decisions #carbonlabels will become mainstream. Our 2 min carbon footprint quiz helps people understand where their impact comes from, and helps them get started on their journey towards #clevercarbondecisions

About SeaLegacy
Co-founded by Cristina Mittermeier in 2014, SeaLegacy Studios is a content and distribution powerhouse that brings new audiences into the ocean conservation movement and leverages powerful visual stories to move them from apathy to action. Far too many people think of ocean conservation as a distant issue that doesn’t impact their daily lives, or they feel frustrated by the sheer scale of the problems we face. Traversing our ocean aboard the iconic SeaLegacy1, the SeaLegacy expedition team breaks down those barriers by documenting the ocean’s greatest threats and most promising solutions and offering people a personal connection to the work. 

About Only One
Formed in 2020, Only One is the digital action hub for ocean conservation, leveraging high-quality visual and written storytelling content to engage a massive base of supporters and call them to action. A critical campaign and organizing tool for the movement, the Only One platform brings together activists from around the world to take small but critical actions to support ocean-based solutions with high returns on investment and long-term impact for the ocean and climate. It amplifies the work of diverse experts and innovators, giving them the platform they need to amplify and scale their critical work. 

Press contacts

Ronja Willoch, Head of Communications and PR at Clever Carbon

Ronja@clevercarbon.io

Karen Murphy, Deputy Account Director
karen.murphy@halpern.co.uk

Tilly Broke-Smith, Account Executive
Tilly.broke-smith@halpern.co.uk 

Nicole Natoli, PR Associate, Just Salad

nnatoli@justsalad.com

Download press release here.

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Social Media Handles

Michelle

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Clever Carbon

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Past Media & Coverage

SXSW Panel: Carbon footprint and the future of consumer brands
TEDx Talk
Involved Group: Opportunities for sustainability in music events April 2022
Austin B Media Interview March 2022
SiteGround Earth Day Webinar April 2022
Fairchild TV Interview | 16 mins (Cantonese)
Hosted by Peter Levin, In Good Hands is a podcast that features the most promising solutions for climate change. Peter hopes to craft a new narrative around climate – one that opts for optimism and opportunity over fear and inaction.

Tune into this episode featuring Michelle and clever carbon.
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