‘Our goal is to make triangles where everyone wins’: Lauren Scott-Harris On The Creation Of EARNT

By Charlie Colville

1 year ago

Get to know the triangular model supporting brands, people and causes

A quick scroll of the news these days can leave us all feeling rather glum – especially when it comes to the climate crisis. It often feels like there’s little we can do in these situations, giving rise to climate anxiety and hopelessness. ‘We’re all feeling an existential crisis when it comes to the enormity of the situation,’ says Lauren Scott-Harris, founder of EARNT. The platform aims to connect consumers with brands through positive-impact projects that support good causes, creating a triangular system that benefits all three groups. ‘I really think it’s about baby steps… taking little actions or signing up to do acts like litter picks really do help us all feel less hopeless.’ We sat down with Lauren to hear more about EARNT – which celebrates its first anniversary this year – as well as how it came to be and how we can quell climate anxiety at our own pace.

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Lauren Scott-Harris On The Creation of EARNT

Lauren Scott-Harris

Lauren Scott-Harris, Founder of EARNT

Hi Lauren, thanks for joining us today! Can you please kick us off by telling us a bit about EARNT and what it does?

Hi! Yes, of course. Last year we launched EARNT with a simple idea: what if there was a limited-edition item (like a pair of sneakers) that you could ONLY access to purchase if you came to a hosted and verified beach clean-up. No gifting, no short-cuts – if you want the item, you must first do something good for the planet or society.

By triangulating brands with causes and consumers, EARNT creates a virtuous cycle to benefit each stakeholder, using the energy people have for things they desire and converting them into actions the planet needs. When we do this, brands do business better (and ‘better’ not only means for the world but also for their bottom line), causes get an army of volunteers, and consumers consume better having done good along the way (while also supporting their own mental health). Communities are created and reconnected while trees are planted, litter is picked, and schools are painted.

EARNT is changing the system to create a brand-new type of VIP – those that do good for the planet or society. EARNT creates, manages, and monitors the system.

And how was EARNT founded?

We had been thinking of the idea for ages, but our first activation was last year with my son’s school, Barnes Primary. Like many other state schools, they are in need of a lot of funding and in this instance needed funding and volunteers to help rebuild the school playground. It was going to cost them about £2k and take the groundsman all summer, so we asked if we could take on that problem as our pilot project.

They agreed and we said we could get it all done for £250. They thought we were mad but here’s what we did: we went to the pub next to the school, The Brown Dog, and asked them to be our partners. We then used the £250 to buy silver tankards and put posters up letting people know that if they wanted their own tankard in their local, they could earn it (and their first pint would be on the house in August) by coming and helping fix the playground for the day. It worked – we had 40 people sign up and we got the job done. The best bit was that it was a great way for everyone to meet one another and then they all used the pub more (showing off their tankards), meaning the pub did better business too! Our goal is to make triangles where everyone wins.

From there we worked with Soho House, Desmond + Dempsey, Design Hotels and even The River Cafe where we had 600 people sign up for a litter pick on the Thames to get access to a secret reservations email so that you could get a table whenever you liked. We are re-inventing VIP status so that it’s those that take action and help the world that are the people the brands look after – not just the famous ones.

People picking up litter on the river banks of the Thames

EARNT turns one this year – what’s the journey been like to bring it from idea to actuality? 

It’s been so exciting. Taking an idea from brain to paper, from paper to action is quite a process. We have an incredible board of advisors and a most brilliant chairman who keep us going when we face challenges. But the highlights are just seeing how much everyone seems to enjoy these missions and being part of a community, and talking to causes and being able to help them in creative ways. It’s making me optimistic about us as a society, especially since the news is consistently pretty alarming.

What has the response been like to EARNT? Do you find people, both brands and consumers, are eager to get involved?

All of our events book up immediately, which is so much fun to see. Leader brands jumped in straight away, but the fun thing is you can do this with sport, film, music, fashion – the list is endless, and there are always so many jobs that need to be done.

How do you go about connecting the right brands and artists to certain causes?

Sometimes they know exactly what and who they care about and want to support, and sometimes they tell us about themselves and we suggest something – it’s basically the world’s most fun brainstorm session. We ask the brand what they have that people really, really want, then we match that up with something they or their staff or their customers really, really care about. We have three silos – environmental, community or children’s causes – so we start by asking them to pick one of those and go from there.

Colourful cakes set up on table with EARNT note cards

EARNT has a great concept in that it not only pulls people away from their internet browsers, but it also connects them with brilliant groups and causes. Would you say that the events you put on are helping create a community focused on positive change?

Absolutely. They can be hard work, but there is nothing more rewarding – and doing it with some friends and other brand fans is also such a great way to meet people. We have done a partnership with Thursday dating recently, so people dated while doing good, and it was just brilliant. It’s so good for your mental health to spend some time thinking about others and taking action.

What are your top tips for consuming with intention?

Well, I am biased, but I would say first ask yourself how much you want and need it, and then, if you still do, see if you would be prepared to go the extra mile to earn it.

Additionally, be educated on the ramifications of the choice: if you want to buy fast fashion, do so with an understanding of the system and know that each of us is responsible. When I found out that most of the clothes that are returned to store are simply binned or end up in landfill, I was heartbroken.

The world can feel a little scary these days, and climate anxiety can take a toll on your mental health. How do you think individuals can simultaneously get involved in the climate battle and be kinder to themselves?

I really think it’s about baby steps. We’re all feeling an existential crisis when it comes to the enormity of the situation, but taking little actions or signing up to do acts like litter picks really do help us all feel less hopeless.

People paddle boarding down river

Where would you like to see EARNT in 10 years’ time? Do you see it evolving in a particular direction?

A global app that is used by all great brands.

Is there anything exciting in the pipeline for 2023 or 2024 (that you can tell us about)?

Lots, but I am afraid we can’t reveal anything just yet! We have music, sport, and much, much more, and the app will be ready in its first form by the end of the year. But the best way to stay tuned is to sign up to our database, which is how and where we announce our collaborations.

And finally, how do you think we can live a life in balance?

I think it’s about being kind to yourself. I find searching for perfection is a waste of time and you set yourself up to fail. Little actions often. Ask your local restaurant if they would be able to use less plastic when they deliver, teach your kids by setting a good example (kids also love litter pickers, so buy them!), just stay connected and don’t be overwhelmed or despair. We can do this, but we have to all do it together, so being kind to ourselves and others.

Any parting words for our readers?

Everyone is welcome to join this movement. We’d love to see you at one of our events soon – I promise they are really good fun, and the brands and causes we are working with are awesome.



Images courtesy of EARNT