Jen Kyna and James Koerbin - Founders of Earthed Consulting
YOU CAN LISTEN TO OUR CHAT WITH JEN & JAMES BY CLICKING HERE.
Earthed Consulting is a company helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint. We are excited to have had the opportunity to catch up with two very authentic earth passionate founders, James and Jen.
James’ passion is helping people and organisations understand their purpose and how to bring these to life in authentic ways.
James is a born and bred fellow Kiwi, who has always had an innate passion and a care for nature and the planet. Mix this with Jen, whose passion is helping organisations find sustainable ways of working in flow with the surrounding environment and communities and we have a really amazing authentic team.
Jen and James tell us a little bit about how you actually found yourself in this position, running this incredibly authentic and genuine organisation. What are your backgrounds?
So, like a lot of people over the last 18 months there's been a lot of transitions in the world in terms of moving around different workplaces. That's what happened to myself and also James.
We both worked in a big corporation for many years, and James and I worked in the same team - the Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility team for many years.
And then through COVID there was a lot of shifts within that organization and decided to take a redundancy and actually leave that position, but when I did work in that that team with James, we noticed that our strengths really enhanced each others work styles. So we always, really, really deeply loved working with each other. So, when I left that organization with COVID, I just knew that there was something in my heart to keep working with James.
And when I stepped out of that business, there was a lot of incredible brands that were around the Northern rivers area where I live that were reaching out to me, knowing that I made a transition and the experience that I had in that organization and asked if I could help them and guide them in terms of helping them with their environmental impact. So, I reached back to James and said, ‘James, we've got the same values we work amazing together. Let's come together and help some really heart based businesses improve their environmental impact and take our skills from what we've learned over the last long while and create our own business’, and that's where Earthed was formed just over a year ago, and that's how it all came into fruition.
And I think for me it was an absolute blessing to cross paths with Jen and now embark on this journey we're on together because I had been working in this corporate for a number of years and had been wanting to transition into something that was more purposeful and aligned with my values and I really wanted to help use the company as a tool to create meaningful change. Its a blessing to do that with Jen and also a blessing to be able to have something to step into that was sort of an ‘in demand’ service. So I'm immensely grateful for all of that.
As soon as we saw that earthedconsulting.com was free we just knew that we were on the right path.
So we just knew that it was all super aligned as well because of that and both of our skill sets are just so aligned in terms of everything that we've learned over the years, working within different companies and having different experiences and so now we're the two team at Earthed and we also work with other beautiful consultants to help us in other areas as well.
Yeah, it's a great name and I have to say it's a very engaging website. As soon as I went on it really pulled at the heartstrings so well done!
Jen & James, can you just give a quick 101? There might be people out there saying we know a little about carbon emissions, but wonder what exactly is carbon emissions and why should everyone care?
Extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere creates a greenhouse effect and so essentially a thermal energy is trapped in the atmosphere and that causes the planet to become warmer than it will become naturally. And because we've been burning so many fossil fuels, and when they're combusted, this releases carbon dioxide. There's been a huge amount of C02 that's being pumped into the Earth's atmosphere, and that's pressed on a trajectory of a rapidly heating planet.
The thing is carbon isn't a bad thing cause carbon is found in all living things. Naturally, carbon is continually going into the atmosphere from volcanoes. Carbon isn't a problem. Carbon is needed on this planet. It's the burning of the fossil fuels and the human emissions that are overdoing it and pushing way too much carbon into the atmosphere, that is warming our planet.
I think everyone is on the same page now. So tell us about Earthed Consulting. What was your dream with the business? Tell us about what the business actually is.
Well, I think what we really found was that there are many organisations who are wanting to have a positive impact on the environment but that wasn't the core focus for their operation and it was difficult for them to navigate and to know exactly what is the most impactful thing they could be doing. What are the different risks and considerations to take into account? So, we really wanted to be the sustainability team that great organisations could come to us with any questions, any challenges and we would be able to help guide them along the path.
The requests and key focus for our businesses who were approaching us were definitely around carbon and understanding emissions and it just so happened that that's a space that I'd sat in heavily for years so it was great to have some skills that organisations found value.
That's exactly right. Just going on from what James is saying, it's so incredible that people and businesses are actually reaching out to make positive change without being pushed or forced by government organisations to do so. And that gives us a lot of like trust and hope in the shifts and change in the world, and it's something that we can't ignore anymore with climate change. It's something that a lot of people looked at as could be fake or something that a lot of people didn't believe in the past and now it's such a forefront. We see it in the news. We can actually feel it in our summers.
There's not many people in the world who haven't been impacted in some way, even just the summers and the winters. We can all just feel the difference. We can feel the difference in nature, so there's no other way of kind of ducking and hiding anymore as businesses and businesses are really actually seeing this as a risk. This is a risk for our planet, a risk to our business and also people are just really feeling like it's time that we start to give back to the planet and do what’s right because it feels right and because it's the most important thing that we're being faced with in humanity and so it's really great to see clients realizing that and then reaching out for assistance in making change.
Yeah, I think that the recent David Attenborough movie really struck a chord with me and I think probably a lot of people around the world. But, the end is not here, we can actually make a change if we start doing little incremental things now and a lot of people I think out there have always looked at it and thought that it's too big to even tackle.
Do you did get a lot of people pushing back in terms of trying to make a difference and finding that it's just too big a beast to have to approach?
Yeah, in terms of individually outside of business I think sometimes James and I have definitely had moments even where we get quite overwhelmed, living and working in this space. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and the truth it is the biggest problem facing humanity in history and we can sometimes freeze. It can become overwhelming and people go through the different stages of grief when they start to think about the future and the causes the industrial revolution have had on our planet and what's happening to the animals. But there's people that are just going through the process of the realization of what's happening. There is so much inspiration and change that we're seeing around us. Even that David Attenborough movie that you're talking about, we are seeing that there is an energy of inspiration that's happening as well, where we actually can make a difference, but I'm thinking everyone kind of sitting in different spaces of people only just realizing the severity of the issue and sometimes can freeze and become overwhelmed. And then you've got other people that are sitting in the space of inspiration and change and drive. And what honestly am finding is very mixed between a lot of people depending on the information that they've received. You know there's a lot of people that don't have space, they're in survival mode, they don't have the privileged to actually look at the global issues as well, so I think even working in the sustainability space and environmentally is a privilege to even have that space to be aware of that. So just to answer your question, I think a lot of people are just sitting in different places when it comes to this really big topic and I'm blessed to be working in an industry with James and have beautiful people around me in the northern rivers that are change makers and they want to make a difference.
Well, it's all being combusted from the fossil fuels. We've got a whole planet that's based on burning fuel, and that's for everything. It's for our electricity and heating. It's for transportation. It's for manufacturing processes, food production, and specifically they're the highest sources for the electricity and heat. So, burning coal, natural gas, no oils, no emissions from those sectors. I think it's almost a third of greenhouse gases for that. So definitely, I know New Zealand is probably quite a leader in the percentage of the grid that's made from renewables and so I think there's some problems seeing things that are happening globally, but I think still, there's some reluctance of countries we've seen recently to shift away from coal, and there's still those kind of projects that are that are being created and funded, which is a bit crazy, but that's definitely the key sources. Since the industrial revolution, the whole world is being centered around burning fuels which are releasing the greenhouse gases, and that's trapping all the heat in the atmosphere and at the moment there's far too much that's being released. Humanity is really on a bit of a worrying trajectory in terms of temperature increases and the impacts of climate change. We're starting to see it and there was something that I heard a while ago that put into clarity when people talk around, what is the climate emergency and how is it an emergency? I think it's the fact that there are so many extreme events happening that require an emergency response that we are continually in this state of emergency, and we've seen this recently in Australia. We seem to go from extreme fires that go on for months and then suddenly there's flooding that's going on and globally these extreme events that are happening. By late century we’ve projected that one in 100 year events will be happening every year, and so we can sort see where things are going and there’s still the capability for us to avoid the most extreme impacts of climate change by limiting emissions. I read recently it’s like the equivalent of every alarm going off in your house at once and every alarm in your street going off as well, and that's kind of what's happening at the moment.
That's quite a good picture. You could really sort of imagine the chaos and the noise with that picture.
And just to give it a bit of context as well. This has only been happening in the industrial revolution over the last 170 years. The effect that humans are having in the world. We're pumping 40 giga tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year and we really don't have much of a carbon budget left. We've only got about 400 to 500 giga tons for any hope really of hitting underneath 1.5 degrees and you think, well, that's going to run out in the next decade and that's the severity of this.
And once we push over that 1.5 degrees (which the truth is, that's already really dangerous, we're already seeing the effects of this), the planet as hot it is as it is in this moment, and the heating and what it's already causing, we can't go too much back from that. We really need to put a big pause on the carbon and the effects that we're having on this planet.
So it's so important for our humanity to not be pushing past that 1.5 degrees, and unfortunately that's where we're heading if we don't make huge and drastic global changes very quickly.
It's such a dire picture, but I'm thinking in terms of David Attenborough saying that there’s still hope,
what are some of the tips for consumers or even Kristy and I as company owners or small company owners. What can we do? What can consumers do? What can business owners do?
I can touch on businesses and then we can touch on consumers just in terms of two different things but a couple of things that businesses could do is, one of the most important things is looking at supply chain and taking a really good look at your supply chain because wherever we spend our dollars is where we have the most impact, so it's really important that businesses, if we're buying, they're buying local and supporting local and local communities to move away from that kind of global trade, and putting all of the money into big global companies and looking at if you're buying food in purchasing food to make sure you're supporting local farming systems that have local farming practices and looking at supply chains at things that cause major environmental damage.
Like, does your food have palm oil? Like is that palm oil sustainable? Are they chopping down trees in the Amazon to create that palm oil that you're purchasing that you’re putting into your products? Having a look at things - where they're made and how they’re made like doing a really, really deep dive into what your business is actually supporting through the purchasing of product and looking at things like can you use recyclable materials or can you even do things differently in the supply chain? Can you, instead of purchasing, can you hire items for your business instead of purchasing them? So just looking at that full supply chain. And depending on the size of your business it’s quite an intense exercise. But we really feel like that's one of the major things that you can do as a business because the way that your dollar is spent and that's as an individual and as a business is how we change the world.
So, if we're putting more money into sustainable products and reducing the amount of things that we're purchasing or we were purchasing things that are ethical and sustainable that's how businesses will change the world. Another big belief as well is the happiness of our staff. So, it's interesting when we think about the environment, if we get a little bit more energy base in terms of the happiness of the planet. Climate change is a reflection of humanity's internal state. It's about human internal unhappiness and that's reflected in the environment.
So how do you care about the environment if you don't care about yourself?
How do you care about the internal environment of yourself, first and foremost because we are all nature. So how do we actually care for the nature within ourselves, and then that force is reflected out into the planet and then we can do that by making happiness of the staff important.
So, looking at creating really supportive and caring and inclusive workplaces that support wellbeing and expansion and collaboration and love because if you have a happy staff then they're going to then take that happiness and that love back home to their families.
So, happiness of the staff and wellbeing and the staff is as important as everything else and then we move into the carbon impact and the impact of carbon in your business. Working with consultants and getting a really good overview of your impact in carbon and waste and the community impact, the full impact of your business.
So, they're able to sit back and have a really good overview of how your business is impacting the world and then start to look at reducing and how do you reduce the environmental impacts at a start and once you can reduce those impacts, that moving energy to renewables, or who your staff’s super is with and looking at those beautiful things that you can reduce your impact and then where you can't reduce your impact then you can offset those carbon emissions as well, and then when you're offsetting those carbon emission you’re then offsetting the impact as well, and supporting regeneration projects and building projects and projects that have co-benefits in the world as well.
We talked a little bit now about how companies can probably look at doing things better.
As a consumer, are there any tips? I mean I'm a consumer as well so any tips that we can look at when we shop or where we shop or how we consumer in general?
For sure. I keep saying that collectively, as a planet, we've made Jeff Bezos one of the richest men in the world haven't we? He’s a multi multi billionaire because of this collective power that we have all shopping in these one places. I think the biggest thing that we can do, first of all, is looking at consumerism. Consumerism, I feel, is created from this lack of connection with ourselves and the lack of sitting with ourselves or lack of being still in nature and connecting with one another and we distract ourselves and buy things we don't need. And because we buy so much we buy cheap stuff.
The concept of retail therapy. Like doing that instead of looking within is just amusing.
Yeah, probably going back to, if you’re actually happy in yourself, you probably don't need all the extra shopping either.
This is exactly why we keep going back to that. If you were happy in yourself and you can sit with yourself and sit with your own pain and sit with your own thoughts, and you were connected to nature then you wouldn't need to go and buy all these things. And when you do buy things, it would be from local makers and businesses that are connective and that are supporting the community, not cheap stuff made in China and bought on Amazon. So, the consumerism part of this planet is one of the major causes and that's also over the food that we're eating, so you know, supporting local farmers.
If you are blessed to live near farmers markets, go to the farmers markets every single weekend and support your local farmers. They get the money directly and then they can keep putting those profits or money back into regenerative farming instead of shopping at these big giants that are causing issues in farming and chemicals and agricultural runoffs and droughts and things that are draining into river systems and so going into as much organic food that you can buy. Looking at what you're eating is one of the best things that we can do for our planet. Look at what we're eating and how it was grown, or how it was raised.
Another big thing is again looking at where you're spending your money so your superannuation. You could be looking at reducing carbon here, but you could be supporting the fossil fuel industry by putting all your money into superannuation.
Looking at your superannuation. Looking at who you bank with. Looking at where your investments are.
So, how are you funding climate change? Where is your money going and how are you funding climate change? Can you move your super to an ethical super?
There's some incredible supers now that women run. Ethical Super or Future Super. Changing your Super takes 5 minutes. Banking is not so easy. Changing banking is so difficult and time consuming, but a lot of people have a lot of time at home with lock down and things. Take that time to look at where you're investing your money.
And then also looking at other impacts. For example, who's your electricity provider with? Can you move to renewable energies? But if you can't put solar on your roof. Can you move to renewable energies?
We are soon going to be offering a service where you can carbon offset your car for 12 months because electric vehicles aren't actually financially viable for a lot of people just yet. Can you carbon offset your car for 12 months. S,o just sitting at home and looking at your families impact and your impact. Looking at the waste that you have, can you put a compost in at home as well to reduce your waste?
And then when you're seeing petitions online, when you're seeing people getting together in groups in the community, getting together in groups discussing climate change, go out and get involved on a Saturday. Have discussions around this and another big thing to do is just have these conversations with people. It's a very important topic. It doesn't have to be a fight, it can be a very loving and inclusive conversation that we can have about what we're worried about. What we can be doing as a family or as an individual and start to work together and connect to the community around this issue so that we can become a collective change. Voice that you're scared. Voice that you’re worried. Voice that you're frozen and you don't know what to do.
I'm about to pop up on our website, we have a wonderful woman called Emily Toner that works with us as well and she does podcasts on climate anxiety and helps people work through climate anxiety as well, which is like through meditation and hope so there's that resource through our website as well or on our Instagram. And connections and connecting to others in community is also really important for deep change too.
You get to a stage in your life (I could see that probably from myself) when you’re past your Uni years and your past your main career and you can look at what do I stand for? What kind of role model do I want to be with my children? What kind of role model do I want to be for my friends and my family and then take a stance and say, well, actually I'm just going to make that choice that even if my budget did not allow it, I'm actually going to prioritize it and then cut down in other areas.
So I think what you're saying is super important, 'cause it really forces us into that conversation of defining who we are and what choices we want to make.
Exactly, it's an ethics and values point, and this is also coming from a very privileged position saying this too because there are a lot of people that really financially struggle that are in areas that don't offer good quality items for purchase, so we're speaking from a very good, privileged position of if you have the opportunity, if you actually have the funds or finances or the resources to be able to do so.
Yeah, it’s a very similar ethos to Good Change. We often talk about the small changes that we could make. The little incremental changes that all build up to being a more powerful force, and as you mentioned before, if we took the collective power of supporting Mr. Amazon and then drove that power into a more positive planet friendly ethos we would just be so much further ahead.
Wouldn't we? And that's what people don't understand is that question that you spoke of before. People asking can I make a difference as a person? Absolutely! There's that saying ‘oh, it's only just one straw said 6 billion people a day’. Its the collective issues. I say to people you buy a 2 liter bottle of bleach to clean your bathroom. Would you take that bleach down to the ocean and just open the lid and pour it in the ocean? No. That's 2 liters of bleach cleaning bleach that you're pumping into the environment every day, and that is a lot of bleach and a lot of chemicals going into our natural environment. Every single household is collectively causing so much damage to the planet.
Yes, you as an individual can make huge change. Even just where your house sits and the biodiversity that sits around your house. Are you killing spiders in your house? Bugs and spiders. What are you doing in terms of the biodiversity inside your house and outside your house. There's millions and millions and billions of organisms that sit around your house, and that's inside your house. How are you affecting your little microorganism world within your being. You can actually make a huge difference, that's the thing.
And if you're just doing that, then you'll inspire others, they'll come into your house and go, “Oh wow, this is lovely. This doesn't smell like chemicals. I feel really good.
Yeah, that's quite impressive coming from some Australian based people as well with the size of your spiders over there.
So, if you were to offer three key things for businesses to take away today and help them create more positive change in their business with the planet in mind, and are there two or three things that come to mind?
Yeah, the ones that we suggested before in terms of what we're talking about looking at supply chain and understanding your carbon impact and the happiness and wellbeing of staff.
So that would be the key areas for businesses.
As James was saying before as well having a really good overview of what your business impact is and the carbon impact, but just overall environmental impacts that you're able to get a really good clear look at. Take a step back and then being able to, from that place, make change within your organization.
I think there's some very good tips there and I think maybe even in the future it could be all organisations will know exactly (kind of like you would your financial statement) each step in your supply chain and what it costs. You will have a carbon footprint measure on there as well, so everyone at each step will know exactly what they're putting out there, or I'm hoping that's the future.
You can definitely see that transparency around those impacts are definitely going to become more and more demanded by consumers as the crisis unravels.
Jen and James, this has been so eye opening for us and I have to say a lot of the stuff you've said to us has really almost pulled on our heartstrings.
You used the word ‘deeply nourishing’ when you talked about connecting with the employees and creating a loving, caring family, connecting back to nature and just looking after the whole ‘shibang’, not just the carbon emission side of things, but also just protecting everybody and that whole connection back to nature.
So we’re very privileged to have had this conversation today with you and grateful that you have taken the time to come and talk to us.
You can find more information on Earthed Consulting here.