Happy Women’s History Month! To celebrate, this month EnergyLink is having conversations with modern women in sustainability. For our first installment of Conversations with Women in Sustainability, Saskia Cairnes sat down with Christina Lampert, Director of Growth and Innovation at HowGood and founder of the Sustennial Network. During their conversation, Saskia and Christina covered topics like sustainability, ESG, and scope emissions.
What is HowGood?
HowGood is the world’s largest food and personal care product sustainability database. With more than 33,000 ingredients, chemicals and materials assessed, HowGood helps leading brands, retailers and restaurants improve their environmental and social impact.
What is the Sustennial Network?
Christina defines Sustennial as sustainable millennial. She started the Sustennial Network to celebrate sustainable lifestyles and businesses. Across its website, email newsletter, Instagram and YouTube the Sustennial Network helps people explore ways to lead sustainable lifestyles.
Verbatim transcript of the interview below:
Saskia Cairnes: Hi Christina, how are you?
Christina Lampert: Hi Sas, good, how are you?
Saskia Cairnes: Well, thank you. Thanks so much for joining us today as part of women in renewables campaign. We’re really happy to have you.
Christina Lampert: Of course, happy to be here with you. Thanks for having me.
Saskia Cairnes: Yeah. So for anyone that’s watching. Christina is the director of growth and innovation over at how good and she also created the sustainable network, which is trademarked the word sustainable. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background? And how you got to where you are?
Christina Lampert: Yeah, absolutely. So this all started, I’m gonna say, probably around 2015, 2016, I started to study how to use business as a force for good. And very shortly, I learned that not all businesses operating the good manner. I was working in fashion at the time. And so I really started to naturally study the fashion supply chain and fashion supply system. And I was like, so surprised with everything I was finding. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, I feel like as a consumer, like, I really wish I knew this before to make more informed purchasing decisions.
Slowly but surely, that started to expand not just into fashion, but also into my diet, and consumer products I was buying. And so I really just wanted to develop a community and a channel to share this truth disrupting information. That’s kind of what the sustainable network is.
From there, taking that interest, I really wanted to develop that in a professional sense. So I decided to go back to school, and I’m now studying sustainability management at Columbia. And I also professionally joined how good which is the largest ingredient and product sustainability database in the world. So all of my worlds I feel like in a creative manner, in a professional manner have come together so nicely, right.
Saskia Cairnes: Yeah, it sounds like you really have figured out what it is you’re passionate about, and how to interweave it both into your passion projects and your work life. It’s interesting that you speak to like being in the fashion space in a fast fashion right now, is a really big issue.
Christina Lampert: Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, like years ago, when this all started happening, like no one was thinking about it. And I’m so grateful to have been a part of this journey, fashion. And beyond over the last five years. It’s been amazing, I think what consumers have done in terms of market forces, so that’s certainly been energizing.
Saskia Cairnes: I think it’s also started to lead. You know, what we know today is ESG, environmental, social governance goes for anyone watching and how companies are starting to position themselves, really with a deeper understanding of sustainability and why it’s important. So I would be really interested to know from your perspective, as you know, a director at Howard, how you guys kind of perceive ESG goals, and you know, what you guys are doing within your own company?
Christina Lampert: Yeah, definitely. So ESG is, I would say, certainly a big buzzword right now. And the more you study it, the more tangible it becomes. It really is obviously relevant for allocation of capital, but also, I think, just understanding the supply system within any given category or industry that you’re in.
I can certainly speak and provide a couple of examples on ESG and how that intertwines with my work at HowGood. But I think one of the most tangible things to probably point out that we’re seeing on the food side of things, at least, is this idea that here in the US, there are so many areas experiencing extreme water scarcity issues. What’s going on is these massive meat companies like Tyson and Cargill are actually having to shut down certain plants because of water scarcity issues like today. So obviously that starts to disrupt production forecasts and things along those lines, which ultimately comes down to impacting the bottom line. Those are things that I’m studying right now.
At a high level, so many suppliers are basically- I think CDP basically just came out and said that one point $1.26 trillion of supplier revenue is likely to be at risk over the next five years due to climate change. And so basically, where their costs will go up, then the corporate buyer who is buying from the supplier, their costs are going to go up as well. And so these types of things in terms of like, yes, they’re bigger picture in the next couple of years, are ultimately going to impact the bottom line.
So from an investor standpoint, that’s why it’s so important to understand what that ripple effect might look like and start predicting. And I mean, just from like a financial perspective, you definitely want to take into consideration these things, and make sure you allocate your capital so that you’re doing so in places that have the least amount of climate risk, from my perspective.
Saskia Cairnes: People don’t realize how much the bottom line in all industries is going to be affected. With the shortages that we’re experiencing, whether it’s water, I mean, I know in our industry right now, our lead times on being able to get materials to do sustainable projects, some of them are looking at over a year. And so it’s really interesting how you kind of bring the perspective of from a consumer goods standpoint, I think a lot of the time people focus on, you know, climate change as a whole and not really like incremental impacts it has on ground level day to day.
Another topic that kind of is really prevalent right now is scope permissions and the impact that that can have I know that, you know, you can speak to that probably with halberd. And what you guys are seeing across your sort of analysis of scope of issues within your own company, if you’d like to speak a little bit about that.
Christina Lampert: Yeah, absolutely. So for anyone who’s not familiar, most of the industry typically follows the GHG Protocol. And it’s basically just kind of a directory and guidance in terms of how do I as a corporation account for all of the greenhouse gas emissions that are tied to my company. And the way that they do that is they separate greenhouse gas emissions to your point into three different scopes.
So scope, one is essentially direct emissions. And what this means is, we need to account for emissions that happen literally on our property. So this could be like looking at emissions from our facilities that we own, this could also be if we own a company, vehicle fleet, right, that would all fall into scope, one emissions.
Then we also have scope two emissions, which are pretty straightforward to account for, this is where energy link would play into. This is basically accounting for any purchased electricity, that we kind of procure on behalf of the company. So the emissions don’t necessarily happen on our site right there happening at the plant, whatever that looks like. But that’s basically looking at Yeah, our purchase energy multiplying that with the emission factor appropriate to the specific region, and producing the GHG emissions there.
And then the way that we think about scope three, which is the last scope is anything that doesn’t fall into scope one and two. So it’s kind of like that catch. And that is where a lot of the work that I do at HowGood typically falls in so when we’re thinking about fashion, when we’re thinking about food, typically, the largest portion of scope three emissions comes from a category called purchase goods and services.
These are the raw materials that you were speaking to, this is the transportation from the tier one supplier to, you know, the corporates facility or manufacturing site, whatever that might look like. So yeah, I’m so happy to work in typically where the majority of admissions comes from, from the consumer goods side of things.
Saskia Cairnes: Yeah. And I think so many people don’t realize the impact that these submissions can have. Right down to, you know, like you said, sourcing the packaging for your goods sold. You know, if you’re not picking a sustainable packaging, or you’re bringing in packaging that has a really high carbon footprint to be able to get it to market. You’re also contributing to the issues that globally we’re facing when it comes.
Christina Lampert: Exactly, exactly and beyond packaging to like, for food. We actually know that according to our world and data 71% of the GHG impact come some land use change and agricultural production pertaining to the ingredients. And a very small percentage actually comes from packaging and transportation.
And so this is a really interesting, I don’t know, Revelation is the right word, but there’s so much education and education happening now to say, Okay, if we really want to invest and reduce our environmental risks, this is actually where we should pay the most attention to. So, yeah, it’s kind of interesting,
Saskia Cairnes: You know, you totally caught me in it, I’m sort of assumptive that, oh, it’s the sustainability of packaging. But, you know, you have a far deeper understanding. And that’s really where the importance of being able to speak to ESG investors and say, Hey, you see the word sustainable, and you think like that, throw some money at it. Or you need to be able to differentiate between a company that’s just saying they’re putting these measures in place, and accompany like how good that has really done the market analysis, and run the data to be able to understand where those bottlenecks are in terms of improving your sustainability and improving your carbon footprint.
Christina Lampert: Absolutely.
Saskia Cairnes: It’s great to hear someone who really understands their companies.
Christina Lampert Yeah, yeah. And the deeper I think that you study it, understand that the better I think your ESG strategy will be both as like a personal investor kind of thing, but also just kind of analyzing the larger landscape at home. It’s certainly been valuable.
Saskia Cairnes: Yeah, yeah, I think, you know, from our seat now, investors are looking at ESG goals and ESG metrics in the company as a non financial factor to whether they should invest. So definitely, that’s going to grow over the next few years.
Christina Lampert: I was gonna say an energy is such a big part of it, even though like, again, for the majority of consumer products go through is the biggest part there. But oftentimes, we know that scope, scope to in terms of purchased, electricity is the easiest, and then overgeneralizing but like the easiest to calculate, which is great, so you can get that baseline.
Also, we know that renewables are now finally cost competitive with fossil fuels. And so that seems to be the thing that is moving the quickest within these corporations, which is wonderful, and leading to reduced emission. So yeah, energy is is so important, as well, and a huge part of this in terms of like, what is tangible that we can work on today? Within the next two years, rather than how do we change our whole supply system to supply more sustainable raw materials.
Saskia Cairnes: And that’s what you know, you spoke to education in your space, that’s where education for us is coming in, is helping company companies realize a there’s cost parity, like you mentioned with process.
There’s also companies that fully understand how to implement these projects for you, you’re not having to do with 567 different entities, you can go to specialize companies, you know, like EnergyLink, and a we can provide the funding and the capital upfront, a lot of people don’t realize that and be it can be completely bespoke to the goals that you’re trying to achieve, whether it’s financial, or whether it’s something different. And like the lead the years in which you want that project to run, I mean, everything you’d be tainted now. So really exciting stuff, kind of on off on a tangent there.
I think just before we close, let’s talk a little bit about your passion projects. We’ve touched on the sustain your network at the beginning, but why don’t you kind of talk to us a little bit about what it is, where you’re going with it, and how people can get involved if they’d like to be involved?
Christina Lampert: Yeah, absolutely. So our network is many different things. It’s really, from a professional sense, I really study and try to understand what is presented preventing consumer adoption for more sustainable purchasing decisions. So an example would be like, Why are consumers kind of hesitant to try beyond me or impossible meat, for example? And so once I have those answers, just for my own personal research, I tried to develop content to kind of address that.
For example, I learned that a lot of people are hesitant in terms of like the ingredients and things along those lines. So I really tried to develop content so consumers can understand what are the ingredients? How do they compare to actual meat? What are the nutrition stamp? What are the nutrition facts look like side by side. So that’s kind of an idea of the content that I try to work on.
I also have an email newsletter that I celebrate sustainable business practices. And so that’s more of the b2b side of things that anyone can sign up for on my website. And the idea there is really just to bring insight to the larger business community to say, look what this company is doing. Look at the results that it’s achieved. And here’s how we can celebrate it both in our own business practices as professionals, but also as consumers kind of bringing all that together. And so yeah, I have an Instagram, I had that email newsletter website. So variety of different. Yeah, you can just Google it, and hopefully we’ll be able to interact there.
Saskia Cairnes: No, I think it’s brilliant, you know, that you are taking the initiative to educate on a space that is only going to grow in the next 1015 20 years and being at the forefront as a thought leader is really great. And we feel very privileged to have had to kind of talk to us about what you do today.
Christina Lampert: Absolutely. Thank you so much again, it was great.
Saskia Cairnes: Yeah, you have a lovely afternoon, and anybody would like to see what Christina is up to. We will post some links to her website.
Christina Lampert: Bye. Thank you.
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