The EcoSend Podcast

This week James chats with the wonderful Charlotte Worsley, who is Head of Partnerships at Stories Behind Things; a media platform exploring sustainability, climate and consumption. Previously, Charlotte also worked in a creative strategy role at Refinery 29 before embarking on a master's in sustainable business and innovation.
Charlotte is on a mission to engage more people in climate action through effective communication strategies, making her a very welcomed guest on our Podcast.

Show Notes

This week we chat to Charlotte Worsley, Head of Partnerships at Stories Behind Things; a sustainability focused media platform. In this jam-packed episode we chat about...
  • Charlotte's journey into sustainability
  • How can brands influence consumer behaviour for the greater good
  • How sustainability is influencing consumption
  • The behaviour vs action gap
  • Sustainability communications
  • What to do with so much data and big numbers
About Charlotte Worsley:

Charlotte is Head of Partnerships at Stories Behind Things, a media platform exploring sustainability, climate and consumption. Prior to that, she worked in creative strategy at Refinery29 before embarking on a Masters in Sustainable Business and Innovation. Charlotte is on a mission to engage more people in climate action through effective communication strategies.


Creators & Guests

James Gill
CEO of GoSquared
Charlotte Worsley
Head of Partnerships at Stories Behind Things

What is The EcoSend Podcast?

Our journey into the world of being a truly climate conscious business. Join us as we talk to fellow entrepreneurs, founders, marketing folks, and campaigners to help us build our new product, EcoSend: the climate conscious email marketing tool.

Episode #6

James Gill: [00:00:00] Hi, welcome to the EcoSend Podcast. Welcome to another episode of the show. I'm James Gill, your host. I'm CEO and co-founder at GoSquared. And we're working on a product called EcoSend, which is all about climate marketing. The podcast we've started because we're on a journey to be a more conscious business, and we're talking to as many people as we possibly can who are already on this journey themselves.

Whether that's business leaders, marketing leaders, or people just out there in the world pushing the message around climate change and doing something about it. So each week we're speaking to someone who fits the bill. And each week it's about 30 minutes. And today, on this episode, I am joined by the wonderful Charlotte Worsley, who is Head of Partnerships at Stories Behind Things, which is a media platform exploring sustainability, climate and consumption. Prior to that, Charlotte worked in creative strategy at Refinery 29 before embarking on a masters in sustainable business and innovation.

[00:01:00] Charlotte is on a mission to engage more people in climate action through effective communication strategies, which is why I'm so excited to have her on the podcast today. Hello, Charlotte. How you doing?

Charlotte Worsley: Hello. Yeah, I'm great. Thank you so much for having me, James. I'm really excited about this chat.

James Gill: Awesome. Yeah. Thank you. I feel like you have all the boxes for being an amazing person to talk to, so I'm looking forward to learning a lot today. And excited to dive in. So yeah tell us more about yourself. I know that I, I just gave a little intro there and hopefully that gives some clarity, but it'd be great to hear about you and what are you up to at the moment?

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah, absolutely. So to give you a bit of an overview of my background, we can kind of wind it back. From the beginning, I studied geography at university. I then decided I wanted to get into advertising world, so I joined a media agency called Blue 449. I then moved over to a media owner called Refinery 29, and I was working in their branded content team.

And during this time I [00:02:00] really wanted to learn more about environmental sustainability and also move abroad. So this kind of inspired my journey out to Barcelona.

James Gill: Not that it would take much inspiration, I'm sure!

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah it was a great decision. I was studying, I was doing my Masters in Sustainable Business and Innovation whilst there and then obviously fell in love with the city. Stayed a bit longer and only moved back at the beginning of this year to pursue a job at Stories Behind Things, which is, as you mentioned, a media platform exploring sustainability, climate and consumption.

And I work on digital partnerships here, so it's a really exciting role where I get to work with brands on helping them communicate their sustainability messages, and also support a community of SME businesses on content creation, community building and e-commerce sales, or focused on the topic of sustainability. And the mission of the platform is to help businesses do better, but also to [00:03:00] inspire more people to make conscious lifestyle decisions and consumption decisions. So we are really in business to shift mindsets.

James Gill: Well, awesome. I'm very keen to dig into Stories Behind Things a little bit more. It sounds great. I might just go back though, just to start. You did a masters in sustainable business and innovation. That sounds quite forward thinking to be studying that. What made you want to go study that?

Charlotte Worsley: I think it was... I've always been interested in people and the planet and our relationship with. Kind of the environment around us. And I became really interested in circular models. How can we use what we already have on this planet? So I wanted to go back and study, and actually at the time, back in 2020 when I was applying, I found it quite difficult to find the right masters, especially focusing on the triple bottom line.

I [00:04:00] found this program in Barcelona. There are more and more popping up now. So there are loads of universities in London and wider in the UK, uh, supporting these kind of programs, but at the time, this was one of the few that I found. And conveniently it was in a beautiful city,

James Gill: Yeah. That ticks all the boxes for where to study. What you mentioned that looking at the triple bottom line, forgive me, but what does that mean?

Charlotte Worsley: So focusing on people, profit and the planet and how they're interlinked.

Businesses can really benefit from focusing on environmental sustainability and social responsibility in line with profiting. I read an article more recently about this impact on raising investment. Businesses that are focusing on ESG commitments right now are actually more likely to attract investments.

So again, just demonstrating that connection. So the Masters was very broad and it was fascinating because we looked at lots [00:05:00] of different modules such as impact investing strategies for more circular economic models. Ethical marketing, and sustainable design, and design thinking, that kind of thing.

So it really was a broad program but it allowed me to find my niche and coming out of it, I realized that communications and sustainability was the area that I wanted to focus on. Obviously it taps into my background in marketing but I think communications and marketing has such a powerful role to play in influencing people and helping communicate what's going on. Because as David Attenborough said, it's becoming a communications challenge now.

James Gill: Yeah absolutely. I think it's weird sometimes when you talk about the industry of marketing, you sort of think well, Marketing's about getting people to buy things. And that overall, this whole industry exists to try and increase sales of something like [00:06:00] Coca-Cola. But actually, Marketing has this huge opportunity right now to influence change at such a bigger scale and to do something really powerful. And, I think there's something quite, quite incredible that the combination of having that awareness and drive to make some change and having those marketing skills... I think you can have such an outsized impact on the world.

It's pretty exciting. Thank you for explaining about the Course. I didn't spend very long at university myself, but I kind of wish I had! I feel like that Course is absolutely Fascinating. So you came of that fully equipped to go make some change.

And so when you came off of that course then you found Stories Behind Things, was that the journey next or?

Charlotte Worsley: Exactly. So I ended up freelancing for a while in Barcelona. And it was at the beginning of this year that I decided to move back and take on this new role, Stories Behind Things and to give a little bit more context to Stories Behind Things. It was launched in 2018 by Gemma Finch [00:07:00] originally as a passion project to celebrate the power of storytelling when trying to live a more sustainable life. And since then, it's grown into the multifaceted platform that it is today.

So there's lots of different things going on at the moment. But our main focuses are the editorial content that we put out, the digital partnerships where we work with brands on more bespoke creative campaigns, our online shop, which is accessed by membership program.

And then offline, we've got a series of different events going on. We run a lot of educational panel events, and we also run the big clothes switch, which is a way of reframing what newness can feel like by inviting our community in to swap their pre loved items and tell the stories behind their clothes. And then finally, we also have two popups in London. And these are immersive concept stores that take place, one in summer, one in December in London, and they're filled with lots of sustainable brands and we do workshops and panels [00:08:00] on next ones actually coming up in December in cold drops yards. So definitely come down.

James Gill: Oh, cool. That sounds awesome. We'll get a link to that so that people can turn up. That sounds awesome. This sounds so interesting because it sounds like a business that spans lot of areas. Sometimes businesses can be like, 'we're an eCommerce business or we're an Agency, or whatever.'

So would you say your core thing then is helping these brands tell a story about their sustainability angle then, is that a big part of it? So a brand will come to you and say like, 'Hey, we'd like to be more climate conscious, or or we've got a product we're working on, but we we're not sure how to market it.'

Like how does it work?

Charlotte Worsley: So, typically we work with brands who are already doing something within the sustainability space. So for example, we recently partnered with a company called Sky Diamond, and they are a company that are creating [00:09:00] diamonds from extracting negative carbon from the sky and, I mean, it's so cool. It's amazing.

They're really reshaping what the luxury jewelry category can look like, and they've got such an incredible story to tell. So we've been helping them tell that story in a new, creative, exciting way. We created educational pieces about diving into the brand and what they're doing. And then we actually launched a horoscope series to engage our audience because we are aware that's something they were really interested in.

And by doing so, we are kind of positioning Sky Diamond as the leaders within the space and that connection between the sky and the stars and sustainability.

James Gill: I see that. I mean that's fascinating. So you're definitely spanning so much there. And I can totally see the need for that. And overall I assume a company like Sky Diamond there, they're seeing their [00:10:00] sales be increased due to that as well. It's like they know they're doing good, but also it's a positive thing for their business too.

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah, exactly. I think there's so much exciting innovation going on at the moment, and it's just about connecting those companies with consumers who want to do good, or people with information that allows them to live a more sustainable and more conscious life.

James Gill: Mm well that, I mean, I don't know a lot about diamonds, but that sounds like such an interesting business. It feels like more of that becoming the norm is only going to be a good thing for the world, doesn't it? I think you had a few other examples of where you've been working with other brands as well.

I think you had something about, was it with. eBay working with them or...

Charlotte Worsley: No. Oh, so this was actually a great example of the power that brands have to influence [00:11:00] consumers and help in this fight against the climate crisis. Brands obviously have huge influence on the way that we behave. And a great example is the partnership with eBay and Love Island. Because of that partnership, it resulted in searches for sustainability and secondhand clothing to increase by 700%.

James Gill: Oh wow.

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah. Which is incredible that it's such a powerful tool and...

James Gill: I'm wondering if we need an Explainer of Love Island for any international listeners.

Charlotte Worsley: James, why don't you give that intro? I feel like you're ready to go.

James Gill: Well, Love Island is a documentary ...

Charlotte Worsley: Educational...

James Gill: Yeah, it's an educational documentary about how people meet, in an entirely realistic environment. And, yeah, it follows in real time, how those connections can, uh, can ignite and sustain over, what is [00:12:00] it, a month, a month long period? In an environment that is very sunny and involves lots of young people, not wearing too many clothes, I think would be the summary.

And it's sponsored by many big brands. Believe it or not, it's one of the most watched things in the uk, I believe, when it's on, isn't it? So, yeah, dunno how that, how about you? Was that an okay summar?

Charlotte Worsley: I don't don't think that's misled people at all!

James Gill: We've had David Attenborough and then we've had...

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah - high brow low brow I love it.

James Gill: Yeah.

Charlotte Worsley: Put it all in there.

James Gill: But it's interesting thing isn't it because Love Island attracts such a broad audience, especially of younger people that are making decisions. They're... I feel like such a granded saying this, but the new generation of people that are making buying decisions, and if you're a brand and you're an advertiser, the influence you can have on that generation is phenomenal.

Because you're reaching the absolute masses in the UK that are making so many [00:13:00] decisions for the first time. And if something like an eBay is sponsoring it to encourage secondhand clothes purchases versus. I don't know, a brand that might be... Well other brands that could be increasing consumption of other things that are far more damaging to the environment. There's a huge opportunity there to have a massive impact.

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah, no, absolutely. I totally agree. And actually I find it so interesting how we try and project what we think a younger audience or a Gen Z audience want to do, or want to feel. And you know, we base all of our insights on data and statistics that we see about what will do well in terms of Marketing.

And it's funny that we're not actually speaking to this audience [00:14:00] and finding out firsthand insights, which leads me onto a really exciting project that we at Stories Behind Things have been working on recently. We partnered with London Southbank University to deep dive into how brands can authentically communicate a sustainability message to a Gen Z audience.

And this has been a really eye opening experience because we set a live brief for the students who are in their second year at university. And they've been responding with creative campaigns and creative ways in which we can engage them in climate action. And it's been so cool to just give the power to them and actually hear what resonates with them.

We've learned so much from what performs well on TikTok through to different experiential activations we can do to get young people involved in the movement. I think the headline takeaways were definitely the power of TikTok, as we all know as [00:15:00] marketers. But really understanding how people behave on the platform and how it can be used as a platform to shop, and to inspire action, and educate people.

And on this digital thread; the use of apps and how you can target through app notifications and things like that. Probably the most seamless way of communicating with this audience. And then just more generally about how this audience feel, think and do in relation to sustainability. So this has been a super interesting project. I'm really excited to hear their final presentations in the next couple of weeks.

James Gill: Wow. That sounds actually fascinating. Cause I, you know, I still feel young mostly, but when I hear about the growth of... TikTok in particular is one that... I'm not the most active TikTok user, but I know you can get sucked into it like crazy. But I think there's a big challenge for a lot of brands. They're not run by Gen Z people. They're run by people that have been in the world for, you know, [00:16:00] in the professional world for 10, 15, 20, 30 years. And how you connect with those younger consumers , even if you look over the last five years, how rapidly things have been changing and how consumer behaviors have been changing since the rise of smartphones and everyone having an incredibly powerful computer in their pocket all the time. Is there anything already that's come out of the TikTok usage that you feel is like, 'oh wow, , how have more people not picked up on this yet?' Are there any initial insights that have come out other than, 'get on TikTok and try not to look like an idiot'.

Charlotte Worsley: I think the insights that I've gathered so far, obviously we're only halfway through receiving the projects back from them, but it has been more around the type of content that performs well. So as a platform that's quite focused on fashion, we were getting lots of advice around how to create styling videos that are really engaging and bring in that [00:17:00] sustainability message.

And also learning about how to integrate shopping elements into the platform and to work with creators on the platform itself. So lots of nuggets of information so far, but definitely a load more to learn. I feel like I'm teetering on the edge right now of knowing that I need to throw myself fully into TikTok, but knowing that it's a long road and potentially a deep hole below...

James Gill: Yeah, let us know how you get on with that. I just don't dare open the app these days. Last time I was up there like an hour had gone by and I was like, ' what happened happened'? But that's my older generation.

But, I wanted to just shift on to something you mentioned. I know we spoke before the podcast as well. You mentioned something about the behavior versus action gap, and I thought that was a really interesting [00:18:00] concept. I wonder if you could just tell us a bit more about that and share more on that.

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah, absolutely. This is an area that I find really interesting. I focused on it at the end of my university degree. It was a project that I worked on with a sustainability SaaS platform looking at how best to communicate sustainability data to the end consumer. And we noticed that over 79% of consumers are changing their purchase preference based on products who that have a social or environmental impact. But there are little who actually act on this desire to want to do better. So this is where the behavior action gap appears. And a study showed that 65% intended to buy from purpose driven brands. But actually 20% actually in this case did.[00:19:00]

So that's really interesting. Why are so many people advocating for sustainability and wanting to do good yet so fewer actioning it when it comes to the point of purchase or the point of making that difference? I think this is a huge obstacle that we need to break through. I guess it's linked to a lot of our psychological behavior.

A lot of people want to be seen to be doing good, hence why they have this behavior or advocate for sustainability. But I guess the key barriers that are standing in the way are probably more linked to cost, convenience, and quality .

James Gill: Yeah. This is actually just so fascinating because we see it firsthand with some of the stuff we're doing with EcoSend and talking to customers. But also you see it [00:20:00] in the real world too. And I'm fascinated by this. I've read a lot around behavioral economics and sort of how humans are really irrational and we think we are really rational. We all make very sensible decisions, but then we make ridiculous decisions when it comes to you know, being in the supermarket and picking a brand that's two pence cheaper than the next one because it's saving you money. But then you immediately go outside and you buy a coffee for three pound twenty or something. And you just don't think about it in those other contexts.

I think , the optimist in me is like, most people want to do the right thing. But there's maybe a lot of motivation, but then friction comes in the way and prevents people. And you know, when you're making those actual purchase decisions, I guess depending on the scenario, what products they are, and whether they're food products or fashion products, or technology products... there's so many things pushing against you doing the right thing.

You know [00:21:00] what's convenient or what's cheaper usually wins out regardless. And getting people to care more, I think the world is doing a better job, or at least in the UK it feels like we are doing a better job than ever of getting people to be conscious of things. But there are still so many hurdles to overcome with getting people to actually make that final piece of action and, and change their habits. It's fascinating. It just feels like there's so much opportunity there to change things up.

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah, absolutely. And consciousness is actually the main focus because you mentioned earlier about behavioral economics and the reason we end up making the decisions that we do is often, because of the subconscious. So that's influenced by perceptions, thoughts, memories and personal experiences, something that's so outside of our rational brain.

And I think to really break through [00:22:00] this and to inspire more action, we need to target that implicit attitude, and continuously message so that people subconsciously make the decisions that we need them to.

James Gill: Yeah. For sure. I know you were talking a bit about this as well with regards to like, there's a lot of big numbers out there that people, see every day. And there's a lot of scary things about how many tons of carbon is going into the atmosphere .

But I think your point you were raising when we were talking before was around, what the hell is everyone meant to do with these, these huge numbers and huge stats? And everything's scary and everything's bad, but what do we do? How does that translate into any action and change?

I know you were saying there's some ways that brands can do a better job of influencing behavior, right?

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah, definitely. I think this piece around communicating the information and the data that we have is so important. So many [00:23:00] brands are quantifying data in numbers and saying, you know, X amount of kilograms have been saved, but what does that actually mean? Because so many consumers and people can't engage with those numbers, they are literally just numbers on a piece of paper.

And they might sound scary, but it's hard to relate that to something within your environment and world. So I think my advice for brands would be to use equivalent of actual numbers where possible.

How many cars are equivalent of X amount of kilograms, for example. EcoSend actually have a really interesting stat on their website. Something that really stuck with me was the fact that sending a weekly newsletter to 10,000 people for a year can have the same impact as flying around the world 10 times .

Firstly, crazy stat, couldn't believe it when I read it. But [00:24:00] secondly, that example shows the important of giving an equivalent and actually putting the data and the facts in a contextualized environment so that consumers can relate to it.

So I'd say use equivalents of actual numbers. Provide contextualized information over non contextualized. Create emotional connections with people so that a topic is relatable. We need to bring this topic of sustainability closer to home for people for them to really engage in what's going on, and how it impacts them personally.

And then also use visuals over textual information. I think the topic we are talking about is so complex and people are looking for a way to simplify it. And on that, single sustainability ratings and certifications, where possible, are really useful for creating this [00:25:00] more common language within the industry.

James Gill: That's such a great section of action and advice. I feel like I want to go away and change the things up now on the outside too. Based on all of what you were saying there. But I think it's so true that even for us, since we've been on this journey, there are so many numbers, so many stats.

And that, you know, we're trying to get more data around the carbon footprint of digital marketing, email marketing in particular. You get all these numbers and grams, kilograms, equating it to all these different sort of variables. There's so many sliding scales of things.

And in the end, we got some numbers and then we were like, 'well, what the the hell does that mean?' And none of us knew anything until you do start , you sort of type in a hundred kilograms of carbon emissions and then you start Googling down that rabbit hole of like, 'oh, right that's equivalent to these other things!' And with all of Marketing as well, just when you get more visual things, stick in your head, don't they? Those are such good tips though. Thank you so much for those!

Charlotte Worsley: We'll [00:26:00] have a separate workshop just for EcoSend.

James Gill: Yeah, exactly. , I feel like the episodes flown by! Normally with these episodes, we like to talk about the future and what are your thoughts on the future in this space? Please do tell what your... , I'm not asking to get money on any of these, but what do you think is going to be the future for sustainability for brands in this space?

Charlotte Worsley: It's very bright. There's so many creative solutions coming up now, which will transform the world, and I think there'll be a huge focus on the digital age, obviously, as we can all expect. I think social media will continue to be a really powerful tool for creating communities, helping educate people on the topic, cause influence through multichannel exposure. I think certifications will continue to be hugely important to create this common language that I mentioned earlier. So BCorp will continue to [00:27:00] grow as will other industry marks such as the Butterly marks of the Luxury industries. I think Metaverse will be hugely exciting. I don't know enough about what's happening there, but it's connection with sustainability will be huge. And there's so much to be researched into digital innovation for sustainability.

James Gill: Yeah, absolutely! I'm glad to hear you think it's going to be bright and positive and brilliant in the future. I'm looking forward to it too. That's great. Thank you. Thank you. I feel like there's been so much good stuff. There's a few key takeaways I'd say, if you want to summarize for brands, any of the few key takeaways you feel that they could take from this?

Charlotte Worsley: Yeah, for sure. I think my key takeaways for brands would be to build messaging based on facts and proof. To focus on the areas that they, as brands, can make the biggest difference in. And to be [00:28:00] honest and transparent. We need radical transparency to provide people with the correct information.

And also to remember that perfection isn't real. A brand can't do everything perfectly. So just be honest in the way that you are communicating your efforts and do the best that you can.

And then from a consumer point of view, I think ask your questions. Do your research about places you wanna go, brands you want to work with.

Things you want to buy. Make sure you have all the information you need, and also use your voice. We all have a voice and we all have a story to tell, so make sure you use it in the right way to influence others. And again, try and make small changes to your habits and know that environmental perfectionism isn't achievable in all circumstances.

James Gill: Yeah. Absolutely. Wow. Thank you. Honestly, that's so good. I feel like [00:29:00] I don't think anyone can listen to the show and not want to change something or make a little change in their life. So thank you so much I feel like this has been absolutely packed full of stats, data insights, inspiration advice.

So if anyone wants to go learn things or connect with you, any links or anything you wanted to share?

Charlotte Worsley: Absolutely check out Stories Behind Things on Instagram or on our websites and sign up to our newsletter. And then you can find me on LinkedIn by searching Charlotte Worsley.

Contact me on any I'd be happy to have a chat.

James Gill: Awesome. And not on TikTok yet?

Charlotte Worsley: Not my personal account. We'll get that. there!

James Gill: Of course. Thank you so much, Charlotte. It's been a pleasure chatting with you and everyone for listening. Really appreciate every single one who is listening to this. If you are listening and enjoy the show, then please do give us a like or a star rating on whatever [00:30:00] podcast you're listening. It really helps us spread the word, and not only get more people listening to the show, but get more people making good changes lives and in their business.

So thank you for listening and we'll catch you next week.

Charlotte Worsley: Amazing. Thanks James.