‘Moo’ving the Needle on Sustainability Through Carbon Neutral Milk

Every year, Climate Week NYC serves as a global stage where innovators from the private and public sectors converge to discuss viable solutions for the climate crisis.

This year, our CEO, Marcus Lovell Smith, and Corey Blumenthal, the sustainability specialist at the restaurant chain, Shake Shack, shared their insights on the collaborative efforts that inspire sustainable choices and drive change — one milkshake at a time.

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Moo-ves That Matter: Defying Dairy Emissions

Dairy farming is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector. Addressing this issue head-on, Marcus Lovell Smith, CEO of Neutral, pointed out: "Dairy farming has a very significant climate footprint, and we also know that 90-plus percent of American households still have milk in their refrigerator. That's why we need to start there. We need to start on dairy farms, which is where the major impact is happening from beef and dairy."
Neutral has worked closely with farmers to slash emissions on dairy farms and beef ranches. "We are in, I think it’s over 2000, 3000 retailers, but the most recent thing that we're extremely excited about is tying up with great restaurant groups like Shake Shack and offering a carbon-neutral product to them,” said Marcus.
Corey Blumenthal, Shake Shack's Sustainability Specialist, shared this enthusiasm: "At Shake Shack, we sell milkshakes, and we sell a lot of them. So what got us thinking is that we were able to find sustainable alternatives to conventional dairy milk that didn't compromise on taste or quality. We could make a big difference.”

A Sip of Sustainability: A Speedy Collaboration

The collaboration between Neutral and Shake Shack is a testament to swift action. "It took less than two months from that first conversation to have carbon-neutral milk in the first of the Shake Shacks up in the Pacific Northwest, and slowly, we're growing from there. That's incredibly impressive," shared Marcus. Corey echoed this sentiment: "It was a seamless transition. We are focused on improving our environmental impact, looking for suppliers who are doing the same, which Neutral is. So this is perfect for the conscious consumer looking to contribute to solving this climate crisis."
Marcus also emphasized the growing trend where, "retailers are under tremendous pressure to show improvement and change what's called scope three emissions, which is really all of the emissions relating to what's sitting on the shelf at a retailer rather than their own heating and lighting bill, [it] is the vast bulk of a retailer's emissions footprint." This pressure is driving companies to seek sustainable practices within their supply chains.
This shift is exemplified by the speedy partnership between Neutral and Shake Shack. As Corey pointed out, "It tastes the exact same as another milkshake that you'd buy at Shake Shack. But it has the fact that we're using milk from neutral, carbon-neutral milk; it gives consumers purchasing power and gives them a way to really put their money towards a good partnership."
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The Power of Informed Palates: Empowering the Conscious Consumer

At the heart of the conversation lay the pivotal concept of empowering consumers to make conscious, sustainable decisions. Marcus emphasized the latent power residing within consumers, "People don’t realize how empowered they are, and I often think people struggle a bit with maritime shipping or global aviation or a number of these things… are quite difficult to grapple with. But food is a choice people are making every day."
"What I would love people to come away from this, “ Marcus articulated, “is for people to feel really excited about what they can achieve in terms of their climate impact. That achievement occurs through food. And this is a change you can make now. Not 2030, not 2050, but you can actually make changes today by buying carbon-neutral or low-carbon foods that create change at farm level.”
By offering accessible options for carbon-neutral foods, both restaurants and consumers hold the key to significantly lowering their environmental impact. Corey highlighted the importance of transparency, “It's on restaurants to transparently tell consumers what they are doing because, yes, consumers need to look out for these restaurants that are making conscious choices […] I think that if other restaurants did the same, consumers wouldn't have that decision fatigue, and they'd be able to go to the grocery store and know more about the brands that are on the shelves there."
Corey continued her discussion about the educational aspect, expressing her hopes for Shake Shack's ongoing endeavors, “There is such an education piece, which I'm hoping that at Shake Shack, we can continue to develop where we help educate consumers on what is regenerative farming [and] what does carbon-neutral milk mean?"
As pioneers like Neutral and Shake Shack lead the way, consumers worldwide have the opportunity to become conscious consumers with every sip. "It's almost as simple as pouring a glass of milk," says Marcus. Corey added, "My cookies and cream shake definitely tastes better knowing that the milk used for it was carbon neutral, for sure.”
Interested in learning more? Watch the full segment here:

  • Annett Michuki..

    33 w

    such great piece of sustainable

    • Patrick Kiash

      34 w

      Such converging brings impactful solutions that make solutions.


        34 w

        Great collaboration

        • Sarah Chabane

          34 w

          Good to here about this collaboration!

          Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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