S02 EP07: Rebecca Burgess, CEO of City to Sea

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Show Notes

My guest today is Rebecca Burgess, CEO of City to Sea, an environmental organisation on a mission to stop plastic pollution through campaigns. Rebecca shares her experience and focus within City to Sea while providing her personal beliefs on our climate emergency and the role plastic pollution plays.

In the episode, we discussed: 

  • Setting up behavior campaigns tackling items that are most commonly littered on beaches, rivers, and oceans (single use  plastic bottles, coffee cups, cotton bud sticks, and sanitary products)
  • How do you unlock businesses to drive social change – recognize the power, means, and money businesses hold to make change 
  • City to Sea’s focus on values — ‘be balanced’ — organisation is a critical friend and trusted peer to businesses finding the middle ground between criticizing that they’re not acting fast enough while also engaging with them and influencing within instead of just making everyone feel guilty 
  • Refill campaign around single use plastic water bottles — 30k businesses are listed on the app that offer to refill your water bottle for free instead of buying single use bottles
  • Benefits to a company on involvement in City to Sea campaigns — making change and leading to positive results, customer demand / concern on environment issues, and having the opportunity to lead something from the start  
  • Reasons for litter on the beach — education on throwing things away versus flushing down the toilet, infrastructure, and lack of care for the environment
  • Adapting to the pandemic — ex: Refill Day 2020 was cancelled which is a large opportunity for partners
  • Positive evolution of CSR teams — 5-10 years ago many were set up to be a textbook exercise without the authenticity and values piece that they have now 
  • Witness more companies investing in sustainability and being more responsible because it’s integral to their business going forward 
  • Main difference between B Corps and other setups is that the company is consistently getting reviewed and the B corp assessment is very rigorous
  • B corps must be committed to the end result because it takes time to complete the application and get accredited
  • Concern over affording reusable market and the need to scale this market based on customer demand 
  • Desire to see more ‘rent a reusable item’ systems in place — ex: rent a reusable cup and return it 
  • Changing the narrative from climate change to climate emergency
  • Closing the gap between plastic pollution and climate — use plastic sensitive as the first step on education in the climate emergency 
  • Importance of collaboration across businesses and nonprofits — come together, refine what we’re doing, and use your skills where you can add the most value 


Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

Video Version

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