EP32 – Helping End Climate Change with Every Dollar Spent – Tom Ferrier


EP32 – Helping End Climate Change with Every Dollar Spent – Tom Ferrier

Sustainable Ecommerce Podcast

Welcome to Episode 32 of the Sustainable Ecommerce Podcast!

Just recently, I attended Purpose Conference here in Sydney, and one of the key insights that came out of listening and chatting with the founders of sustainable brands, was just how important it is for brands to activate their customers and engage their community towards making an impact.

With that front of mind, I was delighted to get the opportunity to chat with Tom Ferrier, founder at  Greener, a tech start-up that aims to connect sustainable brands with mainstream consumers so that we can reduce climate change with every dollar spent.  

Like me, most consumers want to do better, but don’t really have any idea what their starting carbon footprint is, nor do they understand the simple things they can change to reduce it.  The Greener app is designed to bridge this gap, helping both consumers and SME brands make impactful changes and shop better.  

I love things that make it easier to do better, and what could be easier than an app that allows me to buy better in just a few taps? 

Plus – it’s a fantastic avenue for sustainable brands to get in front of new, mainstream customers without a single dollar spent on ads!

Giles Smith: Tom Ferrier, welcome to the show!

Tom Ferrier: Thanks for having me!

Giles Smith: What's your background, Tom? Why and how did you get to start Greener?

Tom Ferrier: To really take you back in time, I used to lead the global IT strategy at a large corporate here in Australia, which was fantastic. Got to travel, we covered 60 countries, all of this great stuff. But I'd been in that role about six years and I saw a quote that truly changed my life.

And that quote was, “The biggest risk in life is not to take a risk at all”. And when I saw that, I thought, I don't want to be 80 years old in my deathbed, just wondering “what if?”. I decided to hang up a suit & tie, and roll the dice. Worst case, I'll go back to corporate, but best case, maybe I'll do something truly special that can change the world.

And that's what I've been really busy focusing on.

Giles Smith: OK, so how did you end up in Green Tech of all things?

Tom Ferrier: Well, it wasn't greener to start with. I first tried my hand at a social enterprise. That just didn't work. And it took me too long to figure it out.It was gruelling, it was an emotional investment of time, money, and just my whole sense of being, and when it didn't work, it was shattering. I was forced to go to an event one night where someone actually came up to me and said, “Did you know consumerism is the cause of the climate change?”. They said it's because everything we buy has a hidden price tag on the planet. That price tag is carbon, the key contributor to climate change.

I started seeing all the things that I buy and I see the price tag, but I wondered what that invisible price tag was.  Everyone has a carbon budget of 2 tonnes, but the average Aussie has a footprint of 20 tons. And I thought that's a massive gap that needs to be bridged.

So, I thought if we could create something that was really engaging, positive message of hope and made it super easy for the mainstream to be part of the solution, maybe we could actually do something to solve this problem.

Giles Smith: What is greener? How will people use it and why is it making carbon footprint calculation easier?

Tom Ferrier: So our purpose at Greener is a world where every dollar spent is carbon neutral to help end climate change.

So, to deliver on this purpose, we've got two complimentary solutions that really bring people in businesses together to achieve the vision. The first one is greener for brands. It's more geared towards the small to medium enterprises who don't have a sustainability manager.

It's a super simple platform that in under five minutes provides businesses with their own personalized pathway to get greener, and it makes it super easy for them to do it. They can then be taking action within 10 minutes.

And the best bit is that we bring them new customers for their effort. And that's the second part of our solution, which is the greener consumer.

It gives people greener brands in the palm of their hand for everything they buy, and then it automatically turns what they buy carbon neutral to help end climate change.

We're still preform launch, but we've already got over 200 brands that have joined the green economy that we're building as founding partners. And you may have seen just a couple of weeks ago, we just secured capital from one of the big four banks, which is an absolute game changer for us.

So if this green economy really takes off just here in Australia the way we hope it does, we can take the equivalent of 58 million cars off the road in emissions each year.

Giles Smith: What are the big building blocks that enable someone to reduce their overall footprint using the app?

Tom Ferrier: So, you download the app and before you know it, we are then providing you with greener brands in the palm of, in the palm of your hand for everything you buy. Education is a big part of it.

Greener doesn't tell people you've gotta go vegan, but if you want to make a bit of a better choice next time you're buying a burger, maybe try the chicken one. But if you then want to make sure that every dollar does help end climate change, users can opt in to connecting their bank account using secure open banking.

We've got the most comprehensive carbon database in the country that we've built up with the University of Sydney, and it's relevant to our very carbon intensive economy here in Australia. The same data set the UN and the I P C C used for their Paris agreement.  That means users can offset all their carbon footprint.

When you're not buying from a brand in the green economy, or that's carbon neutral, we can provide a smart suggestion to shop carbon neutral next time to help you bring your footprint down.

Giles Smith: Amazing. It’s an enormous leap forward!

Can you talk a little bit about how Greener helps the brands do better towards ending climate change?

Tom Ferrier: 96% of businesses here in Australia, are small to medium enterprise. Virtually all of them want to get greener, they don't know how and can't afford it. They can't afford sustainability people. They're flat out just trying to keep the barista happy and hired behind the coffee machine, let alone trying to turn their business green.

So that's where Greener For Business comes in, and it's for businesses that don't have a sustainability resource.  and in under five minutes, they simply go through the platform very. They answer a few questions around what they're already doing, if anything in the sustainability space around emissions, waste, better materials and so on. And after that, they then get their own personalized pathway to get greener.  They earn badges, which are shown to consumer in consumer app and the business then can join the green economy with a click and reap the rewards of new, values-aligned consumers.

Giles Smith: You are giving them an opportunity to get in front of a customer base that has voted with their feet by downloading your app.  What a fantastic opportunity that is.

Tom Ferrier: This is what excites us the most. McKinsey has said that the next frontier of loyalty is a coalition of different brands coming together with a unified and meaningful value proposition.

And we don't see anything more meaningful right now than taking action on climate change.

Some of the brands in the early days, they were all excited about it, but before you knew it, we started to see more and more logos pop up on this green economy that we're building. And many of them were saying, “We want to bring our customers together and share it with that brand, and then they share it back”.

And it's this ecosystem approach, which is just so exciting.

Giles Smith: So how would that look? What would that look like from a consumer point of view when they actually get exposed to a brand that was working with you guys as a partner?

Tom Ferrier: A number of ways, and I'm sure we'll just keep getting better testing and learning and iterating, but I'll share what happens today.

When we see people are not spending on businesses that are in the Green Economy, we can provide smart suggestions to start shopping greener based on our machine learning.

Giles Smith: How can brands get involved with Greener, Tom? What do they do?

Tom Ferrier: Right now, as I mentioned, we've got over 200 founding partners of the Green Economy, and we've got an exclusive offer for any brand that does join up pre-launch.  

So, it's as simple as going to our website, www.getgreener.com, and getting in touch with our team. And then that way you can then see if you qualify for the green economy. If not, we can help you get greener with some advice.

If you do sign you up as a founding partner so that when we do launch around the middle of next year {2023}, you'll be there as a founding partner and get all of the benefits with it, and your customers will likely get a preview of the app and get to use it before anyone else.

Giles Smith: What does the next 12 to 24 months look like?

Tom Ferrier: Now that we've just got the money in from our strategic banking partner, those dollars are going be used to deliver on our goal of helping end climate change with every dollar people spend.

So the two big priorities for us right now are really accelerating the tech that we're building, our product development and iterating it into something that people simply can't put down ready for the launch.

And the second one is really about bringing more businesses as founding partners on for this green economy, because we know that we don't have the time and luxury of waiting to solve this problem. It's why we've really made the barriers so low for brands to join from a commercial standpoint.

Giles Smith: I can't wait to get access to it myself, and I can't wait to be introducing Greener into all the brands that I work with!

Tom Ferrier: Giles, thank you so much for having us.

Top Takeouts

  1. I didn’t realise that the average Australian has a 20-tonne carbon footprint per year, 10X higher than the required 2 tonnes if we are to get to Net Zero.   If we’re to have any hope of bringing that down all brands have to make it easier for the consumer, and the Greener app seems like an essential tool towards that goal.

  2. I think we can all understand that engaging and activating our brand communities is a vital function for having an impact.  But I think we also intuitively understand that we can’t truly build a healthier planet if we all act in silos.

    For that reason, being involved with Greener is a no-brainer, but promoting that and bringing your customers to Greener is even better.  Help your customers do better via your brand, and help them buy better overall with every dollar they spend.

    This really is a network effect, and with Greener’s smart recommendations, the customers that other brands bring to the platform are going to discover your brand through the app as well, so it’s a phenomenal win-win for everyone involved.

  3. It’s obvious that other brands think so too.  We’re maybe 6-9 months out before the app officially launches, and already some amazing brands have joined including Zero Co and T2 Tea like Tom mentioned, as well as other household names like Who Give a Crap, Bared Footwear, Flora & Fauna, ELK, Biome, Bondi Born, Modi Bodi, and many many others.

Green Economy Founding Partners

To find out how you can become a founding partner for the Green Economy and join the wait list go here:  https://www.getgreener.com/greener-business-get-in-touch

To find out how you can use Greener to help your business get greener, go here: https://www.getgreener.com/for-business

I’ll be back next week with more stories from the world of Sustainable Ecommerce, so until then, keep building your brand for a healthier planet!

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