How We’re Making Meals Carbon Neutral – An interview with We Are Neutral

by Tara Clever
How We’re Making Meals Carbon Neutral – An interview with We Are Neutral

We’re working to bring awareness to the impact increasing your veggie ​consumption while decreasing your animal protein intake can have on the environment, a big piece of that is our partnership with We Are Neutral. The organization helping us offset the carbon footprint from all of the vegan and vegetarian meals ordered now through Earth Day.

I just so happen to have an extra special connection to one of the leading forces behind We Are Neutral. Anna Sampson, my little sister, was destined for this work from the very beginning.

You kind of always wonder how much of who you are is nature vs nurture.

When it comes to my little sister, her life’s work is a visceral part of her DNA and has been around as long as she’s been old enough to have an opinion.

A perfect example takes place on a sunny day at our Florida home as children. Anna came running into the house in tears. She told my parents that the men were killing her friends. Well, the men were landscapers, and the trees being trimmed were her friends. My parents explained to their distraught daughter that sometimes plants and trees need haircuts, too.

An explanation that my sister still views with a heavy dose of skepticism.

My sister’s passion for saving our planet (and her friends) has only grown over time. She now serves as the Executive Director of We Are Neutral, an incredible non-profit organization whose mission is to bring awareness and a sense of scale to our carbon footprint. Their work not only helps inform people how to make smarter lifestyle choices, but also provides a tool to offset our personal impact.

When the Territory crew decided to launch our Planted campaign, I felt pretty lucky to be related to just the right person to help us create a sustainability and impact component of this initiative.

To help bring Anna and her important work to life, I got the chance to connect with her to learn more. Maybe I’m biased, but I continue to feel so inspired by just how great of a human she is.


SO ANNA, HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT GETTING INTO THE BUSINESS OF SAVING THE PLANET? 

I’ve always known that I wanted to spend my career at the intersection of the greatest need and my greatest passion. For me, that has always been focused on making an impact on our environment. I went to school to study sustainable architecture. The combination of analytics, math and art really appealed to me and I had an incredible experience there.

When I had the opportunity to join the We Are Neutral team it felt like the perfect application of everything I learned. Instead of building physical infrastructure I now had the opportunity to help people understand their impact, change their behavior and offset the impact of their lives … it’s more of a creative infrastructure that allows for real and lasting change.

WHAT IS THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU’VE LEARNED ABOUT YOUR OWN CARBON FOOTPRINT? 

I did a Whole30 last year and came away able to read nutrition labels, know what foods fueled me and which ones didn’t. I was able to now make a nutritional decision with all of the information and knew what was worth it and what wasn’t.

There’s no equivalent when it comes to your carbon footprint. There is no sense of scale. You may bring your reusable grocery bag to the store, but you aren’t thinking about the car ride there. You may take a flight across the country, but go out of your way to reuse your hotel towel each day.

I think the most interesting thing to me is how important we all know the problem is, but yet how few tools are available to help us understand how to make the biggest change. That’s what I’m committed to solving.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS YOU DO IN YOUR LIFE TO IMPACT YOUR FOOTPRINT? 

A good question, and one I get a lot. I answered a similar question in my TEDx Talk last summer, you can watch it here.

People often think the idea of fixing our broken planet is too big, too hard, too overwhelming to get started. I work in this space, it’s my passion and my career, and even I have a hard time trying to get it right all of the time.

The way I look at it is…  the more I know, the more informed my choices are, and when I can make the right ones, I know that it’s an incremental step in the right direction. The more people we can inform and help make those tiny lifestyle changes, the bigger our impact will be.

I celebrate the tiny victories. Ride your bike to work today? Amazing! Switch out for a vegetarian meal or two? Good for you! The most important thing is that we’re actively thinking this way and allow information to help guide our decisions.

WE WANT TO DO MORE! WHAT ARE NEXT STEPS TO GET FURTHER INVOLVED? 

Well, you can definitely visit our site and follow us on social media, but definitely don’t stop there!

Find five environmental advocacy groups and follow them, too. Subscribe to newsletters and make these issues part of your daily intake of information. A few of my favorites are below:

We can help you understand the scale and impact of your lifestyle, but we all need to be collectively tuned in to these conversations in order to make them a priority.

And in the spirit of the Territory Planted campaign and our awesome collaboration, we built a place for you to offset your meals (Territory or otherwise) for a month, 6 months, or the entire year. Your offsets support carbon reduction and offset projects such as planting native trees, performing energy upgrades for low-income families, removing invasive species, increasing fuel efficiency, diverting land-fill waste, encouraging sustainable transportation methods, picking up trash, and restoring ecological areas.

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