"Net-zero! Net-Zero! Net-zero!" What you need to know about sustainable marketing with Alexis Eyre
Alexis Eyre has changed my work in a hundred tiny little ways. From the images I select to the carbon I emit, her LinkedIn posts push me to do better. And I'm super grateful! For example, after reading one of her posts, I took steps to ensure that my microbusiness is carbon-neutral. Which was LUSH. And it's people like Alexis who keep me motivated to research and expose greenwashing. Because, let's be honest, it takes some balls to like and share posts criticizing the most powerful companies in the world! Like proper balls. 🔥
What's really interesting about Alexis is how she combines marketing and sustainability - something I always thought was basically impossible. Because you know, how can you encourage consumers to BUY MORE and CONSUME LESS, right? When I studied sustainable marketing that was something I really struggled to wrap my head around. But Alexis has absolutely smashed it out of the park, and she has done it so authentically.
An absolute legend, here's my interview with Alexis Eyre, Sustainable Marketing Consultant, Founder of Green Eyre and Co-founder of Future Blue podcast. 👇👇
Nine questions for Sustainable Marketing Consultant Alexis Eyre:
I love the way that you make a difference and keep sustainability front of mind ... In your words, could you please tell us more about your business and your mission?
I am a sustainable marketing consultant and Founder of Green Eyre. I am on a mission to make sure that marketing becomes a force for good and remains impactful but without its monumentally, currently damaging footprint.
Is it tough being a sustainable consultant? What are the challenges you face?
Yes it is. Mostly because every single day you feel like you are on one incredible uphill climb. It’s quite normal to feel like everything you do is not enough and you need to push more and more to help drive this planet to a better place. The challenge comes from trying to remain optimistic and seeing all the wins as wins and ultimately not getting bogged down in the sad news that seems to flood our channels!
What are the best bits?
The bestest, bestest bit is when you’ve managed to convert yet another company to do something about their sustainability, no matter how big or small their starting point is, I take that as a monumental win and so empowering. Another amazing bit is the sheer camaraderie you get amongst everyone that works in sustainability. It is addictive. People are just so collaborative and friendly. I believe it is because everyone is in the same boat just wanting to make a difference. The support and encouragement from everyone is unbelievable, I have never seen anything quite like it in any other industry.
What’s your sustainable journey? Did you have a lightbulb moment one day? Or was it a gradual thing?
I was taking a couple of months out between my job at Sunsail and Five by Five a few years ago and decided to follow my mother’s footsteps and sail across the Atlantic. It is something I had wanted to do since I was a youngster. I was about a 1000 miles from land, having not seen any other living form (bar sea birds) for about 3 days and a plastic chair floated past me, along with all the umpteen plastic bottles you see everywhere.
And I just thought to myself, how can I be in one of the most remote places on this planet and still see this?!
It just felt so fundamentally wrong and it was then that I knew I had to do something about it. I returned to the UK and my hunt for a sustainability course started. I eventually enrolled on the Business Sustainability Management course by the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (an arm of Cambridge University) and the rest is history.
Do you ever have this feeling like most people don’t understand the damage they are doing with meaningless everyday choices?
Yes, 150% and it really is so hard to swallow. Especially when you are around friends or family and you are trying to have some downtime away from work yet knowing you can never really escape it. Whether the conversation is fashion or food or interior design, you realise how little knowledge there is out there and you want to say something but at the same time not alienate yourself from everyone.
Do you think that we’re going to meet the net-zero goals?
Currently. No! Not in the slightest. I like to think we are getting there but then realise I sometimes sit in a sustainability echo-chamber and when I ask friends and acquaintances from outside the field, I realise that most companies haven’t even thought about it.
But at the same time, there is an optimism inside me that says everything will just suddenly change one day and a realisation will kick in that this is really important and needs to be done ASAP.
I am hoping that there will just suddenly be a widespread lightbulb moment and change will happen rapidly. What will drive that though? Much needed tough legislation and a rapid decarbonisation of the energy infrastructure.
If you could tell everyone to do just one thing, what would it be?
If you are a business, it would be NetZero, NetZero, NetZero, NetZero because ultimately if we don’t sort out our emissions, no other obstacles can be overcome because our earth will be not be liveable!
From a personal point of view, it is taking my client, a sustainable skiwear company called EcoSki’s analogy – if you are thinking of buying anything new, firstly ask yourself do you have that object/item already and can it just be repaired? If not, can you buy it second hand? If not, can you rent it? If not then and only then buy new but only from a responsible business.
Traditionally, the goal of marketing teams is to sell as much as possible. But of course, this is the opposite of sustainable living! Do you think that marketing can fundamentally change it’s goals? And how could this still be profitable for businesses?
I think marketing won’t be able to change the fundamental shift away from selling as much as possible by itself, ultimately that will come down from an entire change in a company’s strategic direction. As soon as companies start thinking about a more circular economy model which ultimately ends up with a company having more revenue streams e.g. not just about selling new clothes but now offering repair services, take back services etc, then I think marketing’s goals will naturally change anyway.
However despite all this, the big problem we have right now is that marketing is not a force for good. Of course there are exceptions especially with this ‘purpose’ movement driving through but marketing is predominantly driven around selling as much as possible and nothing else. If marketing teams started changing their KPIs to not only focussing on campaigns that drove profit but also tackled helping out targeted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (our planet’s 17 greatest challenges that we need to overcome) then we would start to see a value economy emerge where not only the company benefits from the campaign but many other stakeholders as well.
The other interesting point here is that businesses could be a lot more profitable if marketing teams started making sure their operations were a lot more sustainable. It is an inherently wasteful function right now from the excessive amount of content produced, half of which is not used, emails going out to millions of people yet only 5% being read and the horrific amount of waste from merchandising and events. If marketing teams started making their operations more sustainable, efficiency and cost-effectiveness tends to naturally fall out of these decisions. I am just working on the stand activation for EcoSki for the National Snow Show. Through putting a sustainability lens on, we have halved our carbon footprint (roughly) and saved EcoSki so much money by the very nature of thinking outside the box with the design.
Where can we find out more about you?