Fresh Beauty Podcast caught up with EcoAct CEO of North America, William Theisen, to discuss beauty’s carbon footprint, net-zero carbon emissions and all things sustainability. Listen to learn more about how EcoAct is helping companies like Fresh reach their net-zero goals.
Intro [00:00:03] Welcome to a fresh take, where we welcome experts from all backgrounds to have mindful conversations around relevant topics, all timed perfectly to your masking experience, sit back, apply your favorite mask and press play.
Moderator: Emily [00:00:33] Hi, I’m Emily from Storytelling here at Fresh. Today on a fresh take, we’re going to welcome William Theisen. William is CEO at Eco Act, who works with businesses like Fresh to help them improve their climate and carbon strategies. Welcome to the podcast, William. We’re excited to have you here.
Guest: William [00:00:48] Thank you for having me.
Moderator: Emily [00:00:50] Through my research, you have had so many different jobs. You’ve been in marketing, you’ve been in sales, you’ve been in business development. So can you tell us a little bit about how you got started and that?
Guest: William [00:01:01] That is correct. And actually, in a former life, I actually used to work at Sotheby’s. What I enjoyed about Sotheby’s was that it was the meaning between business and art. So you had all these art specialists and then you had been a business specialists. So it was kind of the meaning of two worlds that it was always really interested in working in. And then I ended up doing my MBA and at HSC Paris and during the MBA program, you have a little bit of time to reflect on where your priorities lie. And I had an experience working with fashion footwear company called Veja during my MBA program. So I worked for them for about three weeks doing consulting and it was really there that I had my AHA moment because Visa has a very socially responsible and environmentally responsible supply chain. And their goal was that they wanted their consumers not to buy their sneakers because they were environmentally responsible, but because the sneakers were cool and they were high quality. So really, I had this moment where I was I was like, wow, this is really integrated into the entire business in a new way of looking at business that you do not have to sacrifice quality for being more ecologically responsible or sustainable. And so that really opened my eyes and got me a lot more interested in sustainability.
Moderator: Emily [00:02:27] I find it, I’m sure, so interesting for you that each company is at a different point and their sustainability goals and ambitions. So so talk to me a little bit about how when you when you go to a company or a company comes to you for your services, how you, you know, gauge where they’re at, how you make a plan moving forward.
Guest: William [00:02:49] It’s a really good question, because especially within the United States, the spectrum is very large and companies are very different stages. So there’s companies that have been doing sustainability for years and then there’s other companies that are just starting now. What I say is the most common approach that we have when we first get into working with a company is what we call discovery. And discovery is really understanding the context because, again, every company, even if they’re in the same sector, is going to be very different. But and what we’re doing is going to be relying a lot on data. So data coming from operations, from invoices, from procurement, from all throughout the company. So we need to understand what kind of data is currently available in order to convert the information that we’re getting into a carbon footprint. And so the the first year is really key. So we do a discovery phase if they’re really at the beginning. And then we’re going to we support them and doing a carbon footprint, looking at data and then seeing how we can set what we call a base here. So what what is their base here that they’re looking to set targets from and identify hotspots within their operational footprint? And one could look at a on the company lens or the product patterns and so on the company lens, we’re looking at what we call different scopes. And so we’re looking at direct emissions. So what’s happening within the office buildings? What’s under direct control under the company? Then we look at what we call scope two, which is electricity usage. And electricity usage is indirect because we’re actually sourcing electricity off the grid. So we’re looking at a lot of invoices and the energy mix in the local context of where the company has an operational footprint and attributing a carbon footprint to the scope to. Then it gets really interesting because then we’re going off to scope three, which is everything else that is indirect and within a company’s value chain. And so that’s looking at transport and distribution waste, looking at business travel. This is a lot where procurement comes in and working with different vendors where the company may have influence, but not necessarily direct control, but taking a step back. What we’re looking at when we’re doing a carbon footprint is really taking all the greenhouse gases. So, you know, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, all the different kind of warming and putting it down to one indicator. So for everybody listening to that, when you see CO2 e, that means tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent. So that’s basically bringing everything down to a common denominator and bringing it into reporting. So when you see a company has X amount of tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, that’s essentially all the gases being put into that common denominator of carbon dioxide and then reporting what their carbon footprint is.
Moderator: Emily [00:06:07] So you told us a lot about companies carbon footprints and how we can measure that as a company. How can companies producing these products like a Rose Facemask, be more aware of what’s going into their purchasing and producing habits?
Guest: William [00:06:22] Yeah, so indeed, we talked about the company one, and now there’s also product lifecycle assessments as what we refer to the mass in the carbon world. And so looking at a product or service and looking at the entire lifecycle of that product. So how does it come from nature? What are the raw materials going into the product? How is it being transported? How is it being manufactured, processed, stored? And eventually how is it being used by the consumer? And then it’s how does it go back into nature? Is it within a landfill or is it being reused and recycled? So those are ways that we look at assessing emissions with a product. And this is a really interesting way for companies to look at high selling products or one of their key product lines to really understand where the emissions are lying within that product lifecycle, where they can innovate and where they can take action. Because those and that links to when we’re going back to the company all the way from SCOP one to three, there are kind of two terms that we use in the in a product lifecycle. There’s cradle to cradle and cradle to grave. So cradle to cradle is is really looking at when it comes from nature goes through the whole lifecycle and then is recycle and reuse. So you’ll see that frequently in sustainability reports. Well you’ll also see is cradle to grave, which is when it’s going back to nature or going back into a landfill, because that also has an effect on the environment. But recycling does, too, because you need to transform the environment, the product into a new product. So there could be energy usage in that. So it’s not just that it’s a recycled and therefore it’s better. We want to really understand what the energy usage is at each stage of the product lifecycle.
Moderator: Emily [00:08:08] Thank you, William, for being here on the podcast. And we’re excited to have you on a fresh take.
Guest: William [00:08:13] Thanks so much for having me.
Outro [00:08:27] Thanks for listening to a fresh take and indulging in some feel good beauty for the skin and mind.
Intro [00:00:03] Welcome to a fresh take, where we welcome experts from all backgrounds to have mindful conversations around relevant topics, all timed perfectly to your masking experience. Sit back, apply your favorite mask and press play.
Moderator: Emily [00:00:35] Hi, I’m Emily from Storytelling here at Fresh. Today on a fresh take, we’re going to welcome William Theisen, who is going to talk to us about carbon footprints, greenhouse emissions and overall climate change. William is CEO at Eco Act, who works with businesses like Fresh to help them improve their climate and carbon strategies. Welcome to the podcast, William. We’re excited to have you here.
Guest: William [00:00:57] Thanks so much for having me.
Moderator: Emily [00:00:58] So what do you think are the best ways for consumers and companies to educate themselves?
Guest: William [00:01:04] So it really comes down to being curious. There is a lot of information out there and there’s a lot of communication. What I look for in my team members and whenever I’m recruiting someone new is curiosity. And that goes for the general consumer. That goes for the team members in the company, because there’s always more that we can do in terms of reducing our environmental impact. I think we as consumers can just be curious about is this actually the most responsible way it could do this? What are the actual alternatives out there? So when I’m making a choice on which product to kind of support or purchase, what are the alternatives that may actually be just as good, but actually have less of an environmental impact? But also in my daily choices, I actually have a little bit of a game that I’ve created for myself of how seasonal I can be throughout the year with my food choices in my meals can be a little bit tricky. And I’m I am also on this journey as well. But I’m always looking for to see how I can source the most local foods, which ones are the most seasonally appropriate, because then there’s less transport that’s trying to get that ingredient or that food product to my to my table, or there is going to be less energy usage in terms of storage for to keep that that product cool or that ingredient cool. I’ve really always tried to up the ante to see how seasonal I can be and actually come up with some pretty creative dishes.
Moderator: Emily [00:02:32] Well, now I’m curious, what’s one of your favorite dishes that you’ve made seasonally?
Guest: William [00:02:36] So when I’m looking at especially during the summer, I’ll kind of move over to more fruits and seasonably appropriate vegetables over in the summer and eating things like bananas. I’m having more oranges or I’m having more apples. But I’m also looking at the different fruits locally grown in New York. So when our strawberries grown, when our apples grown and trying to incorporate that and it kind of makes my summer more interesting because it’s constantly changing. And then in the winter, I kind of I’m eating more appropriate because I kind of want to warm up. So I’m eating more oats and grains and stuff like that. So actually eating seasonally has in effect been more beneficial for my body. It feels like I’m eating what I’m supposed to be eating during the season when it’s appropriate. So it kind of works on a lot of different ways, benefiting the environment, but also benefiting me because I’m actually eating what I’m supposed to be eating. So fresh is really taking stock of what they’re doing in a really comprehensive way, so we’re we’re really excited to be working with fresh air, their sustainability journey as they look to assess their carbon footprint and also set their sustainability goals because they’re looking to align with international kind of agreements like the Paris Agreement and really take their part in the journey, also the global collaboration in terms of reducing environmental impacts. And I think that companies like Fresh when they’re looking at supporting renewable energy or offsetting in their goals, are actually inspiring other companies, not just in cosmetics, but also in other sectors to actually do their part as well.
Moderator: Emily [00:04:21] That is really exciting. Even as an employee within fresh you know, these initiatives are new, but they’re real and and they’re happening, which is the best part. So I heard this term recently that really stuck with me because I thought it sounded so, so great. Radical collaboration is what it was. So it was talking about how we can partner within our vertical, within our consumers and retail partners, but also across different companies. And I think the mind shift is changing. And it’s going to be not only can we sell more products than this company or can we be bigger than this company, but like, can we learn from this company and what are they doing that’s working and things like that? I think that’s going to be a really interesting hopefully next phase of this as well.
Guest: William [00:05:05] The collaboration in the space, I think is astounding because you’ve hit the nail on the head. I mean, the the learnings that one company can take from another company in the similar space or in a related space is really important and the kind of sharing of knowledge. So we’ve really seen the emergence of a lot of sustainability coalitions where there is this cooperation that’s happening on exchanging best practice and how to move the industry forward as a whole and not just looking at a company specific.
Moderator: Emily [00:05:42] Something that you touched on before is education and something that, you know, I’d be remiss to not mention covid-19 in this past year and of course, we’re still in the pandemic, but the idea of empathy has become just kind of the name of any game, you know, and it’s so important to have empathy and and to be educated on all different topics. So I think that feels like it plays an important role here. You know,
Guest: William [00:06:08] when we as Americans and we as consumer, we want change. We want change tomorrow and we want companies to move at lightning speed. But just because a company is at a different stage of the journey or maybe just starting out or maybe more advanced doesn’t mean that they’re not taking it seriously. And it is an iterative process. Right. So to not move too quickly on where to take action is also really important, because when doing your first carbon footprint, for instance, there is a lot of education that we doing to kind of build capacity because we also want the companies that we’re working with to go on to better, bigger and better things. But we do a lot of capacity building and companies may have an idea that actually their emissions are happening in one area. But when we do the carbon footprint, we’ll see different hotspots actually happening. And so it is also important to take a step back for companies and really see where are the low hanging fruits, where where can the innovation take place and where should the focus be?
Moderator: Emily [00:07:16] I would love to ask you what makes you feel hopeful about the future of climate change and our planet?
Guest: William [00:07:23] So the innovation that’s all happening on all areas, the climate change and sustainability is really pushing companies to ask questions, but not just how they can reduce environmental impacts, but also just paradigm shifts in terms of their operations and how they work. In general, the innovation that’s taking place is really exciting, and it’s never a dull day. There’s always new things coming out. There’s always new initiatives. So I am hopeful. And in the really in the past five years, we’ve seen ambition really ratchet up at a very exciting level. So we’re seeing engagement and action really take place where I see also in the future is really exciting. So Eagle Act actually got acquired by a company called ATUS, which is a technology company, is really how technology can play the role and data collection and making decisions across the board within a company with artosis breadth and knowledge of all systems that a company uses. I think that everything is going to be integrated. So we’re already at the stage of the company and the teams being integrated. How can we bring in technology as an additional lever to get more data, real time data and really make more interesting decisions faster and quicker that are going to have a lot more impact in terms of reducing emissions for a company?
Moderator: Emily [00:08:55] Thank you, William, for being here on the podcast, this was all super insightful and helpful as I think about my carbon footprint and what I can do better in my personal life and also what we can look to do as companies. So thank you for your time and we’re excited to have you on a fresh take.
Guest: William [00:09:10] Thank you for having me.
Outro [00:09:17] Thanks for listening to a fresh take and indulging in some feel good beauty for the skin and mind.
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