Brandi Burton, aka EcoBrandi, is helping local businesses be more sustainable through positive education and long-term solutions.
By Kaitlyn Wilkes, Photos courtesy of Brandi Clark Burton
Brandi Burton can pinpoint the exact moment she became interested in the topic of sustainable business. In 1997, she volunteered at the National Green Builder Conference that was being held in Austin. The conference allowed volunteers to see the year’s keynote speaker, Ray Anderson, former CEO of Interface Corporation. During his keynote speech, he spoke about how he came upon the practice of sustainable business and reflected on the impact his own business had on the environment.
Now, for more than 22 years, Burton has been a staple in Austin sustainability, implementing new ideas, pushing initiatives in local government and giving the general public and businesses actionable items they can do to be more sustainable in their day-to-day lives.
Burton combines her interest in serving the community, something that she has loved since middle school, and her interest in the environment to create servant leadership that helps guide others to better sustainability and environmental practices in a positive and informative way.
Her latest project is helping businesses become more sustainable in their practices. She found inspiration to do this work after asking local chambers and business alliances about their plans to inform their communities about Austin’s new climate plan to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. When the chambers and alliances came back empty-handed, Burton created her own plan.
“It was a wake-up call for me to refocus my efforts on engaging businesses in actions that will be good for them and for their financial bottom line as well as the ecological impact,” Burton says.
In her efforts to teach local businesses about sustainable practices, Burton has created what she calls a braggable brand. That is, a brand that not only takes care of its employees, but has diverse staff and business partners, engages with the community and looks after its customers.
When educating businesses and people, or when writing proposals for the city, Burton tries to take a positive and informative approach to her work so as to not scare those interested with talks about a doomed climate.
“I try to come at it from a positive frame of opportunity because there are so many,” Burton says. “Sustainability is right for so many reasons. It’s good for people. It’s good for the bottom line; it’s good for the planet; it’s good for the health of not just humans, but plants and animals. It gives you a better reputation, all these different things that make it [a]smart [practice].”
Even though Burton is dedicated to helping businesses and Austinites find ways to be more green, she doesn’t stick with one thing for too long. Once she creates change in a space and moves the trajectory in a positive direction for the future, she allows other projects to come forward so she can continue to educate and inspire as many people as possible.
“We live on a rock floating in space. Everything we create, manufacture, all of our discards, we have to continue dealing with,” Burton says. “[We have] to be stewards of the place that we live.
“If you just shift your mindset, then you make a whole bunch of different decisions,” she says. “I think that’s key. That’s why my title at my different businesses is founder and chief inspiration officer. I see my job as getting people inspired to take on doing life in ways that work better for themselves and the planet.”