🚀 Launching: The Knowvember Campaign 

Know your impact, then show your impact. Featuring CarbonCloud.

This November, global political powers will meet in Glasgow for COP26 for what is being called the ‘last best chance the world has to avoid climate crisis’. A trigger point for many brands to commit to serious climate action, if they haven’t already, COP26 is also an exercise in mass climate awareness and education for consumers in the UK and far beyond. 

Research published this month suggests that 67% of UK consumers plan to pay attention to the environmental efforts of retail brands during Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas shopping. Additionally, nearly 1 in 3 consumers claim to have stopped purchasing certain goods or products because they had certain ethical or sustainability related concerns about them. Whilst this confirms the behavioural shift towards more conscious products, it also places pressure on brands. Ensuring consumers can easily understand and interpret the impact of the products they buy, and the difference between the choices on offer, provides a huge opportunity for environmentally conscious brands to make the impact of their products clearer than ever. OnePoll research conducted by the Knowvember campaign on 2,000 UK adults revealed that 70% want more climate impact transparency from brands to help inform them when shopping. Ultimately, if brands don’t communicate their footprint, how can consumers make climate-conscious decisions?

So, how can brands champion climate transparency?

It’s simple - know your impact, then show your impact

⚡ Introducing: The Knowvember Campaign

Announced today, the Knowvember Campaign is a partnership between CarbonCloud, Following the Footprints and 7 pioneering brands - drinks brand TENZING Natural Energy, Jude’s Ice Cream, wine brand When in Rome, children’s food brand Little Freddie, condiment company Rubies in the Rubble, Ombar chocolate and sanitary brand DAME. Coinciding with COP26, the Knowvember campaign aims to encourage consumers to shop from climate-conscious brands, and buy products that are transparent with their impact. All founding brands have completed and verified their product footprint, and many are already displaying this on their packaging.

“This isn’t about shaming brands who haven’t yet established their carbon footprint, it’s about shining a light on the need for knowing your impact and sharing it with the world. Shoppers have a right to carbon information”

- Huib van Bockel, founder of TENZING Natural Energy.

Go to the Knowvvember Website

At Following the Footprints, we believe that a crucial step to managing your impact is first measuring it - that’s why we’re founding members of the Knowvember campaign. What if every brand knew the climate impact of their products? Even better, what if every brand was transparent about the climate impact of their products?

How can you get involved?

  • Check out the Knowvember website: head to www.know-vember.com to learn more. We’ve spoken to each brand to learn more about the work they’re doing behind the scenes. Head to their brand profiles to find out!

  • Visit the Pop-up store: From Wednesday 3rd November to Saturday 6th November 2021, consumers will have the UK’s first opportunity to browse a shop where all products on sale come with a carbon footprint, right next to the price. A future-forward shopping experience that we hope will one day become the norm. 73 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, London. Open 10am - 7pm. 

  • Shop and support brands who are transparent about their impact: Throughout November, we encourage you to shop from brands who know and show their impact. Hopefully, by next November, the list of brands taking part in the Knowvember campaign will be even longer!

  • Spread the word: Let others know your pledge for the month of Knowvember, and take a stance for climate transparency.

Knowing and showing your impact - how does it work? We spoke to CarbonCloud, founding partners of the Knowvember campaign, to learn more…

What is a ‘climate label’? How is this different to a product’s carbon footprint, or a more well known ‘carbon label’?

A CarbonCloud label displays the climate footprint of the product that wears it. The number you see on the label is kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per kilogram of the product. Carbon Dioxide Equivalents or CO2e is the unit of measurement for the climate heating effect of greenhouse gases. So what you see in a CarbonCloud label is how much a given food product contributes to climate change in one number. It absolutely is the same as a product’s carbon footprint!

Why do you want to champion climate footprints, as opposed to carbon footprints?

What is the difference between a climate footprint and a carbon footprint? There isn’t one! Carbon footprint and climate footprint are the same calculation and measure the same thing: How much the planet is heated from a single activity. Then why aren’t you using it? Because, when it comes to food, the term carbon footprint is actually rather misleading. While carbon dioxide is the main emitter in other industries and responsible for 74% of the total warming on Earth, in the food industry carbon dioxide is of minor importance. 70% of the food industry emissions come from agriculture. At this stage, nitrous oxide and methane are the most impactful greenhouse gases. Take a look at the effect of these two greenhouse gases in commonly purchased products.

Internalizing the term carbon footprint propels the food industry to focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, like minimizing the use of plastic and choosing local suppliers. While these initiatives are great steps, if food producers want to make an impactful reduction of their emissions, they need to focus on where the biggest opportunity lies. That is what we exist to enable and that is why we use the term climate footprint – because it encompasses the impact of food production and show food brands the source of their emissions.

How do you work with brands to provide a climate label for their products? 

The way brands work with CarbonCloud to calculate their climate footprints is truly unique. Instead of discussing scientific scope and system boundaries, all a brand needs to know to jump into climate labelling their products is their value chain – the calculations and system boundaries are embedded in CarbonCloud. Food producers enter the ingredients, refinement, storage, packaging, and transportation data for each product and they receive the climate footprint of the product. In the meantime, they can see where the most emissions come from, pinpointing hotspots and areas for improvement. Then another unique aspect comes into play: CarbonCloud’s in-house science team verifies the calculation to ensure it is solid and the label claim is backed – after that the product can proudly wear its verified climate footprint on its package! Our fastest label has hit the shelves in two weeks!

Why can consumers trust the CarbonCloud climate labels they see on products?

Very glad you asked! Trust and integrity were two of the main reasons CarbonCloud was created for.

The science for climate footprint calculations has been around for a while but that does not mean that the outcome, i.e. final footprint of products is comparable. This happens because defining the scope is defined by the stakeholders involved in the analysis: Some may include the activity in the company’s headquarters, others may include how consumers may use and dispose of the product. In the end, the final footprint may carry a number that is not comparable to the product next to it – it’s comparing apples and oranges.

CarbonCloud labels have the same scope for all products, which makes the final climate footprints comparable on a level playing field. This uncompromisingly means that a fair scope that can apply to all food products fairly is a ‘must’ and CarbonCloud set out to turn it into a ‘have’!

Another reason, touching upon the above, is that CarbonCloud labels quantify a single, perfectly quantifiable impact that the global society has deemed critical: Climate impact. The CarbonCloud label does not aspire to make the judgement ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for the sake of consumers – consumers see the impact of said product on the climate. They have all the information they need, with the highest possible fidelity, to see the impact of a specific product on the climate.

Finally, there is part of our DNA that makes a climate footprint label trustworthy, and it is part of the story of how CarbonCloud came into existence. CarbonCloud was founded by climate researchers at Chalmers University who wanted to put all this research to the hands of the people who can make a difference: Food producers. To this day, CarbonCloud has an in-house team of dedicated researchers, who review the methodology embedded in the platform, the data library, and the modelling to ensure that each calculation maintains the highest integrity. Climate footprint labels have a heart, big brains, and people dedicated to a cause that laboured them.

Why is it important for you to encourage brands to ‘know and show’ their climate footprint?

Encouraging food brands to know their climate footprint is the first and most important step to reducing it. If a food brand wants to lower their emissions, they need to be able to start somewhere. The most effective start is to have an accurate calculation of each product at every stage of the supply chain. Then a food brand can move on to really understand where most of the emissions are coming from and what they can do at every stage to reduce it. Knowledge is a prerequisite for action and that’s what climate footprints give food producers: Actionable insights.

A food product showing its climate footprint in a label is so much more than a participation badge; it is a food brand making a public commitment to take action on reducing emissions; it is being truly transparent with consumers; it is a call to an accountability statement to the rest of the food industry to; it is a pledge from the food brand to its employees that the company is investing in its longevity. All in all, it is the price we pay to the climate when producing or purchasing food and the label is the climate price tag.

Why are you a founding member of the Knowvember campaign?

It is the ‘know’ part that makes the Knowvember message so critical. In simple steps:

  • The food industry accounts for a quarter of the global emissions.

  • Society has agreed to reach net-zero by 2050 – this cannot be achieved unless the food industry acts on it.

  • If the food industry is to lower their climate footprints, they need to know it.

This message should fly across every single food producer and to be more fair, it should fly up the legislative bodies as well: We need to know the climate price of our activities. If you don’t know your climate footprint, trying to lower it is like throwing whilst blind.

Do you have any advice for brands who are unsure where to start on their sustainability journey?

Most definitely – and it does not differ that much from any other change in a business!

  1. Focus on one issue at a time: Grouping sustainability categories together may have the noblest of intentions behind it, but it is not in any way actionable. Most sustainability categories are distinct from and do not impact one another and grouping them has no actionable effect on your business.

  2. Identify the highest business risk: Which sustainability issue can compromise the mere existence of your company in the near future? Don’t think far – it is climate change. Not having a climate strategy to reduce your emissions can push the brand out of existence in the next 10 years… max.

  3. Get accurate data: Important decisions cannot be made based on gut feeling. Otherwise, you may end up with decisions based on popular narratives, such as ‘30% less plastic’ that have a miniscule effect on reaching your goals and lowering your emissions. This is where the Knowvember message ‘Know your climate footprint’ comes in with a blast!

  4. Turn your data to business decisions: After you have a high-fidelity depiction of where your emissions come from, identify where the largest opportunity improvements are and act on them. As soon as these actions are implemented, you and your customers can see your climate footprint shrink!

Finally, what is your vision for the future? Where do you see climate labelling in 5 years?

In the not-too-distant future, climate footprint is a global currency – explicitly regulated by governments, a strategic business goal for brands, and a budget for consumers. COP26 aspires to break down the Paris agenda into actionable decisions and lower emissions are bound to touch the food industry in a more accountable, localised, and measurable manner. In 5 years, every food brand will have a measurable goal or KPI lower their emissions and for this, they need a plan in place today. As for consumers, for us as well as pretty much every representative of the food industry we have spoken with, climate transparency is an unequivocal right. Consumers know the price of their food and the nutritional facts readily available on the pack – they make purchasing decisions based on that. The consumers’ will to do make purchasing decisions based on climate footprint is there; Climate footprint information on every package is a blink of an eye away and consumers will be able to track the progress of their favourite products’ climate footprint. The label will be a track record for climate-smart companies that consumers can reward.

We’re all about transparency, so we want to be transparent with you.

What you can expect from us over the coming month:

  • Brand profiles of each participating brand, in our weekly Friday newsletters for the next 4 weeks. We’ve got some fascinating insights from brands to share with you. 

  • Coverage and conversation around the Knowvember pop-up shop and campaign. 

  • Coverage of, and mention of, CarbonCloud as a founding partner of the Knowvember campaign. 

Following the Footprints is a founding partner of the Knowvember campaign, and is receiving payment for coverage.