S2E3 - Russ Avery - The Sustainability Marketing Guy

Russ Avery is a marketing and business growth consultant specialising in sustainability. Russ is a serial eco entrepreneur and launched the sustainable T-shirt brand Renewabilitee.


  • Being inspired by David Attenborough
  • Studying at the Open University, lessons from Carbon Credentials
  • How Russ Avery Consulting started
  • Importance of learning from mistakes and being self-thought
  • Importance of doing the brand awareness and selling benefits
  • Differentiation as a business and a personal brand
  • Using Linkedin as a content publishing platform and going to Linkedin Local
  • Creating Renewabilitee a sustainable ethical fashion
  • Importance of marketing online and offline

[0:08] Will: Welcome back to the Green Element podcast where we feature business leaders and innovators transforming their operations to be more environmentally, and socially sustainable. I’m your host, Will Richardason and I can’t wait to meet our guest today and help you on your journey of sustainability. Welcome to the Green Element Podcast, Russ, thank you so much for joining us today, I’m really looking forward to talking to you about what it is that you’re doing. We met on LinkedIn, and you’re pretty vocal on LinkedIn and you’ve got a lot of followers and a lot of people who listen to what it is you’re doing, because you’re always seem really keen to help people and help them understand their marketing and what to do and how to promote themselves. And I thought, or we thought that this would be a really good opportunity to discuss that and talk about how you do that and whether you can give any tip bits to those organizations that are sustainable, and what they can do better. So, thank you very much for joining the show.

[1:06] Russ: Thanks very much for having me Will, it’s great to be here. 

[1:09] Will: Can you tell us a bit about where you started and what got you into marketing?

 [1:14] Russ: Yeah, I will do my best to give you the nutshell version of how I– I graduated from University with a degree in languages, so completely unrelated to what I’m doing now. So, I graduated in 2007, into a recession, so that was fun, terrible job climate, in the same situation with all my friends, very few of us had done vocational degrees, I didn’t actually want to use my languages in terms of being an interpreter, a translator, or anything like that, so, I did temp jobs for a couple of years and then I worked out what I actually wanted to do for a career. So, I kind of took a step back and thought about what I’m passionate about and what I enjoy, whether I had qualifications in it or not was irrelevant at that stage. And I’d always been deeply passionate about wildlife and the natural world, and the environment. And I think that just stems from, it’s a massive cliché, but it’s true. It stems from watching David Attenborough as a kid like every Sunday night, and being absolutely fascinated with wildlife and stuff. And I was very outdoorsy, my parents are really outdoorsy, we had really good outdoor camping holidays and stuff, I grew up in Scotland, an amazing country size. That’s where it started. 

[2:28] Russ: So, I went back to Uni so I went back to the Open University in 2009, and started doing a distance learning course, in natural and environmental Sciences. Not just because I was interested in it, but because I knew that I would have to have something on my CV, when I was applying for positions that showed that I really did care, because I’d be up against people who had just graduated with geography or environmental related degrees. So, I started studying at the open University while I was looking for jobs, and then a great opportunity came up for, a kind of admin and social media assistant at a small ocean conservation charity called Seaweb, which is a US based charity, but they had a small London office. And I thought this is perfect as a foot in the door. So, I applied for that while I was studying at the OU and I got the job. And from there, everything rolls, that’s where my journey began. 

[3:23] Russ: So, that was in 2010, where I started working for Seaweb. So, you know, it’s actually only nine years ago that I was an admin assistant for a tiny charity. So, the journey’s been absolutely crazy. And I was at Seaweb for two years, which was really great, like we did a lot about sustainable seafoods and ocean acidification, marine protected areas and stuff, basically all the stuff that we’re seeing way more in the news these days than we were back in 2010 to 12 when I was asked, that’s really interesting. And then, actually, my wife and I were expecting our first child, so we moved from London out to 04:03 [inaudible], which was kind of the trigger for moving on from Seaweb and looking for my next job. And then the stars really aligned because I found that we moved from London to 04:12 [inaudible], which is a small town Surrey, about 45 minutes west of London. And I found a job for a small sustainability consultancy called Carbon Credentials, who were looking for a Marketing and Communications Manager. So, I was shooting way above my station based on the experience I had in marketing at that point in 2012. But as it turns out, they were a much smaller company than I thought they were. 

[4:38] Russ: And it was kind of perfect for both of us, because they were looking for someone who they could afford to pay, you know, a fine and base salary for a startup of five people and I didn’t have as much experience as your typical Marketing and Communications Manager at that point. So, I joined them in 2012 and it was a proper baptism of fire really steep learning curve. and that’s when I really found my true calling, suddenly really started doing a bit of social media at when I was at Seaweb, which was great. So, I’ve got a lot to thank social media for, like, effectively my whole career because basically, I got the–, 

[5:14] Will: It must be only a few people to say that.

 [5:16] Russ: It’s crazy. To back up a step back, so let’s see where basically, Twitter and YouTube were really coming to the fore for businesses. So, I said, you know, we should be on this as a charity as a perfect opportunity to spread the message about ocean conservation at let’s say, I volunteered and started doing that. So, I’ve got into social media at Seaweb, and then a Carbon Credentials, I just got to do like almost everything and learn everything. And it was a really steep learning curve, really good fun, and an incredible growth story. So, I joined Carbon Credentials as a company of five people and 05:49 [inaudible] in 2012 and I left in 2016, when we were 50 people based on Regent Street in Central London. So, four years, like nuts, absolutely nuts, like amazing growth, like amazing learning opportunity, like brilliant team, great friends, and then in 2016, I got poached by a competitor who were called Sustainable Commercial Solutions at the time to be the marketing director. And I joined them, rebranded them into Evora, which is like pretty much the first thing that I did. And then I was with a board for two years, just under two years before I left to go solo. So, I went solo under a Russ Avery Consulting in April 2018. So, about 15 months ago, which is that’s, all still talking our and in case I’m not.

[6:45] Will: And so, you haven’t really done yourself justice by you will have learned so much and I think potentially in the first roll, you would have ended up learning a lot from your mistakes, which I think is, although everyone says that that’s a really bad way to learn a lot of other people’s mistakes but I think you really, really ingrains in you, what it is that you did right and wrong. And I think it almost makes you better. In the past, I’ve learned from mistakes so therefore, I’m obviously going to say that. I do think there’s an element of truth in that. And so, what would you say were your biggest key things that you can take from that role, also to others, no sorry, other credentials?

[7:32] Russ: The biggest thing in those four years, I probably have to say, you know, learning from, like being more open to learning from people who were more senior to me, I’d say like, I mean, compared, like, in 2012, compared to now. So, when I first joined Carbon Credentials, like, obviously, completely different person, as I think we all tend to be seven years later, or whatever, but I was probably a bit more cocky back then, probably not as willing to listen to advice from other people and stuff. So, I think that’s definitely a learning because then in hindsight, when you look back, you think, yeah, there was some mistakes there that I could have avoided if I’d listened to x, whatever, read tons. So, I’m a completely self-taught marketer, so I’ve done a few courses, I’ve done when I was already in the job. So, I’ve done a Google course, in digital marketing and some other stuff. But you know, for three years, I’ve completely self-taught and that’s purely from reading a lot. And I’m with you, Will so making mistakes your own, like, if you don’t make the mistakes yourself, like yeah, sure, learn from other people’s mistakes, that are big ones, so that you don’t have to fall down, any huge drops, and you know, save yourself a lot of pain, money, stress, whatever it might be, but I’m totally with you, if you don’t make your own mistakes, it won’t be ingrained in you, like you said earlier. 

[8:48] Russ: So, fail fast, fail often, and fail better. So, that’s the thing. And you know, I think there are loads of quotes out there, but you know, they’re all true. That’s why they’re cliché. So, like, you know, fail fast fail often fail. That’s, you know, I didn’t fail, I just moved from one idea that didn’t work to the next one, is the way you need to look at things. And it is amazing how many people don’t do that. So, this is what I want to say, make use of the Internet. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But you can find anything out there. There are so many amazing blogs articles. Now, podcasts are huge. Yeah, YouTube is, yeah and just make use of it. Like chances are what you’re searching for, has already been searched for dozens of times before and so therefore, someone has written a really good article blog post YouTube video on it. And it’s a fantastic way to upscale yourself and free.

[10:12] Russ: Okay, so that’s a really good question. I, in the last 15 months, I have been helping companies who have either, not done something from day one and so now they’re playing catch up with their competitors so it’s, there’s a kind of sense of urgency there. Or they have done a great job from the start but they’re now looking to take things to the next level. And so, although there is no one size fits all approach, that kind of is with the basics. So, I would say create a strong brand from the start and the reason for that is because in the last 15 months alone, I’ve helped do three complete rebrand two like brand refreshes for consultancies, who just have a really weak, really weak visual brands, say, like a logo that founder designed themselves using paint or something and like a website that they built themselves using Wix or something like that, and I get it, that you’re a startup, you’ve got limited funds. But the problem that I’ve come across, is that, okay, here I am, startup with limited money, because these guys are my clients, marketing at the moment is just an afterthought. 

[11:26] Russ: That is the mistake, because then they are paying for it much more than they wanted to like three years later, or 18 months later. And it’s just such a critical part of your business and people have come to me saying, we started in exactly the same year as these guys and yet, they are everywhere and they seem to be known and we’re not, we’re like a really well-kept secret. And I’m like, well, yeah, like compare you both, like compare your digital footprint online, compare your branding, like compare the events that you’re going to, you guys are totally not putting yourselves out there, in the same way that these guys are. So, of course they’re better named than you are and their brands more recognizable, etc., etc. There’s always this kind of penny drop moment where people go, oh, yeah, true. Like, and then you know, they’re like, okay, tell me like, how do I start using LinkedIn for example, you know, should we be on YouTube? Should we be using Google Analytics? The answer is yes, by the way. But we’ll be chatting about that later, anyway Will. 

[12:25] Will: And I think you actually answered it. I think I almost was asking a leading question that was wrong, just then, in a different way, you’ve actually said, starting off, you need to good name, good logo, get out there. So, be on LinkedIn, talking to people, networking online, writing blog articles, getting tweets out, getting, if you decide Facebook is a good, medium for you–

[12:53] Russ: I should clarify, can I clarify something on the visual brands, because it’s really important. So, as I said that, what I do, people today, if there’s anyone listening to this, who’s at that startup stage, I’m not saying spend thousands on creating a visual brand, I just want to make that really clear, because someone might have misinterpreted what I said. But basically, with everything that’s available to us these days, with sites like People Per Hour and Fiverr. and stuff, you can go and get a logo made professionally by a graphic designer, for very, very little cost. And what I’m saying is they will do a really good job for you, don’t do it yourself and do a crappy job to save $50, get someone to do it for you, it will make the world of difference, you won’t then be spending three grand on doing a rebrand in three years’ time. That’s just what I wanted to make. 

[13:42] Will: I think it’s really important. We are I got one of my best ways to do a logo and he did such a great job, so simple. And you don’t need to go for complex stuff, either do try and be all clever and just–

[13:55] Russ: I would say– I’m not a graphic designer, but I play the role of creative director quite a lot. And I work with graphic designers on a daily basis, say, a little tip bit for you guys, when you’re thinking about your logo because of the age we live in, the digital age, think how your logo looks as a standalone icon, where it might appear as a, you know, smartphone app, for example, because you want to future proof yourself, that’s what I’m saying. So, the Green Element logo, for example, you can use your three green lines in isolation, you know, you’ve got the icon elements, your logo that doesn’t need to appear next to the word green element, for example. So, it’s things like that, just think, how is it going to appear as a Fabricon you know, a Fabricon is that little thing that appears at the top of a browser tab for example. You know, have you got something, have you got an element of the logo that can appear there? All these kinds of things so think about the digital footprint, think about your social media profile photos for your company, social media accounts, all that kind of stuff. But as I said, a good graphic designer will be bearing all this in mind anyway, when they executed for you.

[14:58] Will: And, so, we’ve touched upon the sort of stuff that you can do at the beginning of your journey and in order to make yourself more, what are the common mistakes that you see happening within consultancy?

[15:11] Russ: Second to just not putting themselves out there enough, so not doing the brand awareness piece well enough, and just making sure that they are on people’s radar is probably back to marketing basics, which is the classic, which is selling their services and solutions way more from the features angle rather than the benefits angle. So, I’ve done a lot of copy, rewriting and positioning of services, for people to tell a story much better and to sell the benefits so this is really back to basics, so features tell but benefits sell. So, sure you’re selling them some sort of compliance driven audit service or something, and it will help them, you know, tick a box, whatever. But what’s the actual benefit? Well, the benefit is probably that it’s a small piece of work that for the organization that is taking sustainability seriously will unlock the next part of their journey, because it acts as a driver to do something much more impactful later on or the benefits might be saving you, you know, time stress and money because we’ll take off that pressure for you as Green Element, you know, we’ll do that job for you. 

[16:20] Russ: You’ll look better to your boss, it might be that, you know, will help you win your career. And that’s actually what, you know, if you think of it in our terms, well, that’s what sustainability consultants will suddenly take notice of when they see that, you know, whether it’s a tweet or a social media post, If you’re talking in terms of the benefits that you’re providing them, not the features like, our environmental management system service, you know, does this, this, this and this. It’s like, yeah, but so what, you know? Make it like, tell me in my terms, like make it real to me. And if you guys, if anyone out there has got many different sectors that prospects and their clients come from, then you need to be persona exercise, a buyer persona exercise to tailor your messaging based on the job titles that you typically tend to go after. And then things will really slice.

[17:10] Will: That’s so hard. Yeah, weirdly, it comes up more and more now, like people, I think, possibly because we are going to that next level and people are starting to ask us and they say so, who’s your person that like you’re actually at the beginning, I was like, I don’t know why. But now I actually have a person in mind. It’s really weird. I actually can describe and it’s kind of like all of our clients amalgamated into one.

[17:39] Russ: There you go. Depending on sectors and stuff, and obviously how much time and money you’ve got to spend on these exercises, people, again, Google Analytics, absolutely amazing. You literally, you know, because you can learn demographics of people, you know, where do they tend to be based? What age range they tend to be from? What gender are? So, you know, obviously, it’s less important for B2B consultancies. Sure, but you know, B2C brands, as you can imagine, will be looking at Google Analytics stats to see age range, gender, so on based on their customers, male or female, are they between 18 and 30, are actually between 45 and 60 years old. And again, because of the scary data, different worlds we live in, you have access to all that information through Google Analytics. So, yeah, and then social media analytics as well. So, inbuilt analytics on Instagram telling you exactly who’s been viewing your posts, like where they’re based, how old they are. Yeah.

[18:38] Will: We’ve just started doing a marketing thing for company footprint, and they’re not focusing on Instagram, but Instagram is a big part of it. Oh, that’s cool. And they go on to Instagram in a couple of weeks and see how that’s going. What would you say your business superpowers?

[18:55] Russ: I will go for what other people have told me rather than I think it’s myself, because I figure that must be right. And, I’d say it’s just building really good rapport with my clients, and like creating really good relationships with them. So, a lot of my clients are now good friends, to be honest, I’ve become really good friends with over the last 15 months or so. And I mean, how important is that? So, creating a job for yourself, which then ends up not really feeling like work, because you’re helping your mates out? You know it’s awesome. And I know you guys have got that because you only need to, obviously, I’ve done some work on looking at the Green Element website and stuff. But I can tell that out of your client base, there are some really strong relationships there where they’ve done work with you because of well, because they’re people that you’ve known, you know, so that counts for so much. And it’s the same for me say, okay, first start, guys, there are loads of independent marketing consultants out there. So, that’s really important. Two differentiators, one is that I’ve got my niche, which is marketing for sustainability focus businesses, that instantly gives me a one up on just any other marketing consultant out there that some of these companies could choose. And the second differentiator is simply that I’m me, and that’s what we’ve all got. But you know, how is your personal brand? How are you putting yourself out there? Like, what is your personal brand? What does it look like on your digital footprint? Like you mentioned earlier that I was really active on LinkedIn. So, I’ve got, you know, LinkedIn fam, which is phrase and a hashtag you might have seen is a real thing, because I’ve got people, I’ve got friends on LinkedIn, who I’ve never met, because they live in America, or on the other side of the world, or whatever. 

[20:38] Russ: But they have followed my LinkedIn journey, specifically, since I started doing LinkedIn videos, for example, back in August 2018, who, like, they watch and read everything that I’m posting on LinkedIn, they know who I am, they know what my brand is all about. And I get inbound leads as a result, because you know, I just share, it’s not well, I shared a video on Friday, last week about reviving a bee, you know, with LinkedIn, so that’s had over 500 likes and over 20,000 bees. That’s absolutely crazy. And this is why we should talk about this a little bit, because I’m obviously getting ahead of myself, but we should talk about LinkedIn a bit and why people should absolutely be using it to its full potential in 2019 because there’s no other channel where you can get that kind of reach, like period at the moment. So, if you’re still, if anyone out there is still using LinkedIn as a platform for their digital CV, and for job related stuff, then you’re missing a massive track, because LinkedIn is a content publication platform that can help boost your personal brand, your business profile, and generate your new clients.

 [9:41] Will: That’s good, yeah. And getting into the nitty gritty, you talked about you went on a Google course, you went on a social media course, if you are starting out on your journey as a sustainability and not necessarily consultancy, actually, any organization, I guess it actually goes through any organization, be it, you are sustainable are not, what would you say you should look at to start off with? Should you be looking at Google Analytics to start off with or should you actually be looking at everything?

[21:47] Will: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I would say that LinkedIn is almost a crossover between online, digital, all kind of digitalness and people? It’s a way of using digital, it’s probably the best way of using digital in the professional workspace to your best advantage by, like, you just said, you’ve got people that you talk to, in all over the world, I was going to say the US, but all over the world. And they’re not just seeing or reading something, it’s not just digital, they’re actually seeing you, they’re seeing your personality, they’re seeing who you are. And I think that’s what I’ve learned from Charlie, is that kind of crossover and I think people are quite quick to think, oh, online, digital, there’s no personality involved in that. And we’re going down the automated email marketing routes and a lot of people go, yeah, no, that’s not for us, that’s just digital only. But again, that is a way of understanding who you’re talking to, and what it is that they’re doing, and then starting to talk to people in what they’re interested in, and picking up the phone, knowing that you can pick up the phone and talk to someone that actually wants to talk to you rather than pick up the phone going, well, I don’t know if they’re going to like this, I’m hoping they will, cold call. Brilliant and I think LinkedIn is absolutely brilliant for that.

[23:14] Russ: It’s amazing. Yeah, so I completely agree with everything you just say. And something that has really helped the crossover that you mentioned between the digital and the people is LinkedIn video, and also LinkedIn local, which is a massive global movement of meeting up with your LinkedIn connections in real life. So, I think Charlie’s the LinkedIn, local Nottingham Palace, for example, isn’t cheap, either LinkedIn local fun or post started it in January, reality monthly events. And it’s just fantastic, it’s a way to meet people that might live literally next door to you, who you’ve never met before. Because you, until you set up LinkedIn local. But LinkedIn video adds the personal touch that you mentioned earlier, and really helps because you can hide, anyone can hide behind words, that you’re typing, right, which is why you think our digital load of rubbish because you can write whatever you want and it’s not really you, you can obviously be faking, you know, your style and your personality, if you show up on video is much, much harder to act, you know, act as someone else. So video has added a real authenticity to communications. 

[24:24] Russ: And it’s an amazing way to build up your personal brand, which if you’re an independent consultant, like I am, my personal brand and Russ Avery Consulting are one in the same thing. They’re exactly the same thing, which is exactly why I didn’t name my company, something really cool and funky, because Russ Avery was already known in the sector that I wanted to be in, like having worked in sustainability in London in the southeast for the last six years. So, if I called myself, I thought marketing was something I would have been starting from scratch effectively, because people already knew my name. Yeah, I’ve got LinkedIn to thank for that. Definitely. The next big for me, which you guys, you know, you’re looking at it through compare your footprint and stuff. So, let me know how it goes but I’ve in the last maybe six to nine months, I’ve been fixing a lot more on Instagram, because Instagram has IGTV, it has live streaming, and I don’t have access to the LinkedIn live feature yet. So, that’s another really good way of being able to invite your followers into your life, like show them a behind the scenes video of me working on renew ability designs, or something, for example, or this is me in a client workshop, and be able to like live feta that it’s just a fantastic engagement tool.

 [25:38] Will: So, you’ve just brought up renew ability. Brilliant, awesome, well done, so that T shirt you’re wearing, what a great design.

 [25:47] Russ: Thanks for that.

 [25:48] Will: What is that design? What is this company?

[25:52] Russ: Okay, so in March this year, which is nuts, because that’s obviously only, I don’t know, four months ago or something. I went to Amsterdam, on business for Green Build Europe. So, I went there with my clients in 26:06 [inaudible], which is a German, a Berlin based sustainability consultancy, to help them at Green Build where they were the gold sponsor. So, that’s the background. But while I was in Amsterdam, my hotel was really close to an interactive museum a friend had recommended to me called fashion figures. And I can’t recommend it highly enough guys, if you go to Amsterdam, please drop ins fashion figures. It’s a free, interactive museum. So, you walk around the rooms with, do you have a headset on, no you don’t have a headset on, but you have a kind of clicker thing that you can tap next to sensors or into the features. And you can make pledges as you go around. So, you’re walking around this museum, and it teaches you all about the global fashion industry and you start in the basement, and it teaches you about the production of the cotton, for example, how it’s grown, how many liters of water is used to create just one you know, cotton t-shirt, and the figures will really shock you, by the way, we’ll touch on that later. 

[27:01] Russ: And then you can make pledges with you a little beeper as you go around saying I would only buy 100% cotton clays, not synthetic fabrics or I will only air dry my clays and I’ll stop using the tumble dryer, for example and all these different pledges. And then at the end, well, after about an hour, you’ve done all three floors, and you’ve been really, you know, you clued up, an eye opening experience, the huge environmentally detrimental effects of the fashion industry, and then you touch your beeper on the screen at the end, and all your pledges come up, and then you can email them to yourself and stuff. So, yeah, really amazing experience. So, I left there thinking well, I can really easily change my own clay’s buying habits and my own fashion behaviors. You know, not that I was that bad anyway, because I’m not into fast fashion, which means I don’t buy things for you know, one season or anything like that, and then give them away or throw them out three months later, when that season finished. I’ve never done that, I buy clothes, kind of as of when I need them and, you know, probably fit the average males. 

[28:06] Will: To give you an anecdote, I bought a jumper from a Cornish company called oh man, I can’t remember its name now, but they’ve got shops all over the UK. They’ve got a shop in Brighton and I went in there and I was like, where’s your men’s and they went, we haven’t had a men’s part for about two years now. I went oh, that was the last time I bought a jumper. Yeah, and that’s the reason why we don’t have a men’s department anymore and that kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

[28:37] Russ: That says it all. So, I thought okay, well, that’s easy. And yeah, I can definitely up my game on using the tumble dryer last, making sure always doing cool washes and stuff and I was doing a lot of this anyway being obviously quite environmentally conscious. But I thought I wonder if I can take it to the next level somehow and bizarrely, it is really weird how things work out I came across a Timo, which is platform that I’m using. So, I’ll do my best to explain Timo really quickly so those of you who are listening. So, there’s a clothes company based on the Isle of Wight called Rapa Nui and a lot of you will have heard of them because they are an established clothes company and they are a sustainable ethical clothing brand based on the Isle of Wight who have had the most amazing journey over the last, I think at maybe like 10 years or so. And they have unlocked their supply chain of all their garments, and their printing technology and process which is an amazing renewable energy powered factor on the Isle of Wight, which uses low rates print on demand technology. And then they’ve built Timo, which is an online platform for anyone to create a website and launch your brand using their supply chain. 

[29:47] Russ: So, I was like, no, something’s not right here. And I thought that this is like this, there must be a catch. Because you know, there are very few side hustles that you don’t need to put some kind of capital right into to get going and stuff. So, I just thought that there must be a catch. So, I kind of dug into Timo a little bit and there really wasn’t one, that’s just, you know, obviously your brand will only be as successful as you make it through marketing and stuff. But I thought, well, I’ve got nothing to lose, so I will set myself a goal of launching a sustaining political fashion brand within I think, I set myself eight weeks ago. So, it was the end of March and I said by the 30th of May I have to have it live. So, I got cracking in my evenings and weekends, renew ability was born. And by the way, I wanted sustainability that someone had already taken it.

[30:37] Will: I know that consultancy.

[30:39] Russ: No sustainability with a T and a double E at the end as in T-shirt. Yeah, it’s another Timo brand. So, someone had the exactly the same that I had, and they did sustainability on Timo. So, I was like a thumb. So, renewability was choice number two, I thought it sounded really cool. Anyway, created a logo did all the things that I know how to do as a marketer that we just talked about earlier, well, up front and then I had to, I had, well, it’s a T-shirt business so I had to teach myself some basic graphic design and come up with some t-shirt designs that aligned to the brand that I was trying to create, which is taking what team would have done to the next level say renew ability is all based around the environment and sustainability. So, if you look at our designs, there’s a lot of mountains, the ocean, the kids’ range is all wildlife based and they’re the best seller so far. So, I found an amazing set of like beautiful polygon animals, giraffes, sharks, manta rays, pandas, you name it. And after the kids’ season, I’ve already been asked them if I can, like why they’re not available as adults tease as well. So now potentially going to create them in the adult size as well.

[31:53] Russ: But basically, yeah, eight weeks from idea to going live with renew ability was the journey there. And it’s just the side hustle. I’m doing it with a friend of mine called Tim, this is great coming full circle, I met Tim at the first LinkedIn local funnel in January, okay, so he’s just a local guy who signed up for that met him there he is now my business partner and renewability. He’s a graphic designer and all around digital creative. So, he’s helped me with some of the designs. So, our crest is a leaf, which represents the organic cotton that’s used, the sun represents the solar energy, because the factories in North India and the Isle of Wight powered by solar and wind energy, the water represents the rain water for the monsoons that’s used to irrigate the cotton. So, they’re not having to take water from elsewhere, but will say the close the water recycling that they use in the factory, which is incredible, say, in your average cotton factory, when there’s a lot of water that’s used in the actual processing process as well. And when that comes out, it’s really dirty, waste effluent, that pollutes water when it comes out of our factories, it’s portable drinking water, right, which is phenomenal. So, that’s what the droplet represents. And then the cycle with the areas which is where it gets seriously cool. And this is all down. So what rapids have done represents the fact that when clothes are full of holes, and at the end of their life, which is hopefully in many, many years, obviously, you can send them back to Rapa Nui, free of charge, you get money off your next order, and they turn it into a new t-shirt so, it’s circular economy, the future of like cotton fashion, and it’s just amazing.

[33:34] Will: That’s brilliant. I love it. Great story.

[33:37] Russ: So, before we just started, Will just told me about an amazing company, which is turning ocean plastic into sunglasses–

 [33:44] Will: No, no, so they’re turning a plastic bottle into something that they actually spoke to loads of. And it actually ties into what you were talking about. They spoke to loads of professors and realized that you can’t turn ocean plastics into stuff because it just doesn’t work. And it breaks down and he told me about the breaking down and then exactly what you said. Both of you said in a very different way, a very similar thing.

[34:12] Russ: Okay, thanks for clearing that up. That’s really, so, for anyone out that he has seen these clothes companies, which look, you know that it’s really annoying. The heart is in the right place. But there are lots of clothes companies out there cropping up now and they are taking ocean plastic and they’re weaving it into synthetic fibers which they can make plays out of and they can even make stretchy clothes, which replicates what’s the material I’m looking for, you know, spandex, like nylon stuff. Yeah, so they’re now able to create stretchy fabric which can be used as swimwear, for example. So, swimming costumes, swimming trunks. The problem guys is that, that material is made out of ocean plastic, it’s made out of plastic, every time that gets washed, or probably when you’re wearing in the sea, or the simple as well, micro fibers are released. It’s crazy. These are effectively the worst kind they’re getting in bed microfiber, so as the name implies, tiny, tiny, tiny fragments of plastic and they’re making their way into the food chain at the very bottom level. So, they have found plankton and tiny crew and stuff now with plastic in their stomachs because they’re consuming microfibers. 

[35:22] Russ: And unsurprisingly, that’s making its way up the food chain fish eat the plankton etc. etc., seals eat the fish, you know, as ocean plastics and polar bears from the food that they’ve eaten and the feed the babies and etc. So that is the problem with these companies that are now making clothes out of recycled plastic like amazing initiative, amazing thing that they’re trying to do but sadly, it’s like kicking the can further down the street as opposed to actually solving a problem. And I read a really interesting post about it on Instagram the other day by, I can’t remember her name. But if you’re on Instagram follow trashes for tossers and she’s an amazing woman, she did the original TEDx talk about her low waste life where she could fit all her ways from one year and into a glass mason jar. It’s her I think her name is Lauren something. Yeah, so trashes for tossers of Instagram, she wrote a post about it. And I just suddenly thought, you know, like bulb moment and that’s why, you know, you don’t just carry on wearing the clothes that you’ve got, because that’s the sustainable options. So, the most sustainable option is the clothes that you already own in your wardrobe. And that’s a well-known saying for a reason because it’s true, doesn’t matter what they’re made out of, the fact that you already own them means that they’re the most sustainable option to carry on wearing them until you can’t wear them any longer and they’re full of holes. 

[36:39] Russ: But apart from that, by real fiber of real material, so hundred percent organic cotton, say not a single tiny bit of plastic will ever go into the ocean for many of our renew ability T’s which is really important to me. So, they’re 100% organic cotton, the label is made out of cotton, the packaging they arrived to you in is made up of a really amazing paper, I should have brought that actually to show you but really amazing paper that’s made out of the dregs of the factory floor, that’s made out of cotton as well no plastic. And you know, we’ve just got to solve this ridiculous plastic crisis that we’re living in at the moment and fashion is is definitely has a massive role to play in that for sure. 

[37:19] Will: And you’re saying that the fight on plastic 37:22 [inaudible]?

[37:24] Russ: That’s right. So, I’m sure lots of you guys out there will be, will have watched it but I think part three just aired last night, but if you haven’t been shy player fights on plastic with he finally we can still add any to Ronnie, amazing, terrifying eye opener. So, for me, I like to think that I’m pretty clued up on sustainability and environmental related stuff and you know, I used to work for Seaweb for two years, obviously, but I was absolutely jaw dropped moment when a huge dump truck, so huge Dustin Laurie, dump truck from Bristol just unloads, a full load of a disgusting heaping mounds, and that the guy from the water treatment plant says this is everything that we’ve collected from the sewers in just the Bristol area from only three days, and basically some massive pound of wet wipes. And your brain just kind of explodes so that was from three days and just one city in the UK. 

[38:24] Russ: And your brain can’t even compute how much must be going into the sewers around just the UK alone on an annual basis. And later, it’s ending up in the ocean or costing millions for the council’s and the world’s treating plants through me that we’ve all probably heard about the fat bugs in London and stuff like that. That’s when fat mixes with the wet wipes and blocks the sewers. So, it’s the cost of the production companies who have got to do something and lead the way and find more benefits materials, the waste companies have got better job at recycling what we do, throw away into the recycling bin. And then we as consumers need to use our purchasing power and our voices to demand change and obviously, buy less single use plastic. And it’s not easy. It’s really difficult. That’s the problem.

[39:15] Will: What’s one piece of advice you’d want our listeners to do on the back of listening to this show? 

[39:20] Russ: For any I know this podcast is targeted, so a lot of, you know business owners and directors and stuff. So, for you guys, I would say please, please, please don’t leave marketing as an afterthought at whatever stage you’re at in your business. And I’m saying that because I mean, if you do, it’s actually good for people like me, because we’re more in demand. Yeah, when you’re, you know, X number of years down the line and actually you find yourself needing to play catch up with your competitors, I’m trying to save you money by getting it right at the start, don’t leave it as an afterthought. Marketing is an essential part of your business, it’s not a nice to have, if you’re not putting yourselves out there, no one’s going to, you know, hear of you and discover you, so both online and offline is super important. And for the average person and consumer out there watching this, I guess the thing that I’d love them to do is to go out there today, right now after listening to this podcast, and make one small change in your life, one small positive change that will reduce your negative impacts on the environment as a person whether it’s doing meat free Mondays, or switching up one household item that you buy lots of in a week to a non-classical tentative, say, for example, stop buying toothpaste from plastic tubes and by dent tabs instead, which are these small pills that you chew up and they turn into a taste in your mouth, zero Waste. It’s amazing, I’ve been using them since December. Stop buying wet wipes, definitely don’t flush them if you still buy them. Yeah, once more change. And it’s at scale, where millions of us do it that we can really start making a difference. So never underestimate.

[40:54] Will: And where can we learn about you? Where can we find out more? 

[40:58] Russ: So, I’m really active on LinkedIn so if you search for just Russ Avery on LinkedIn, I will be the first result that comes up. On Instagram for Russ Avery Consulting, it’s just @theRussAvery. And for renew ability, it’s renewability. So that’s TW at the end.com. And it’s just @renewability on Instagram and Facebook. We’re doing the best we can with the time that we’ve got. 

[41:22] Will: That’s great. Thank you so much for your time today, Russ. It’s been– I’ve loved it because I’ve learned loads. I don’t know if you notice, I’ve been writing things down. Awesome, free consultancy. Awesome. Brilliant. Thank you so much. 

[41:39] Russ: Thank you for having me. 

[41:42] Will: Thank you so much for listening to the end of this episode of the Green Element podcast. Do take a moment and share this with your friends and colleagues and rate and review the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. I’d love to know what your biggest takeaway from this conversation has been. What are you going to do differently? Please share your thoughts across social media and tag us we can see them to at GE_podcast. For links and show notes for this episode, visit our website greenelement.co.uk/podcast. Thank you again. I hope you will join me on the next episode and together we can help create a better world.

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