So you don't work with fossil fuel companies - great! Now what?

Beyond turning our backs on high polluting industries - how can marketing and creative professionals improve sustainability?

Rob Greenfield

Head of Earthtopia Earthtopia


There’s ever-growing pressure on marketers and creatives not to work with fossil fuel companies. Recently, the UN Secretary General called for a ban on fossil fuel advertising and prior to this, Clean Creatives published the F-List of agencies who have signed up to help promote some of the world’s top polluters. 

Many in the industry agree that the tide is turning for the better and there is a high number of talented professionals out there who want to put their skills to good use and help society become more sustainable. 

But beyond saying ‘no’ to hopping on board with the bad guys - what can we do collectively to become more environmentally-minded ourselves, as well as get green messages out there and encourage action?   

The flip side to saying ‘no’ to the bad guys is supporting the good and helping game-changing products and services reach audiences, achieve mainstream adoption and have a tangible impact.

Rob Greenfield, Head of Earthtopia

Improving sustainability literacy

Sustainability is a topic we hear a lot about but sometimes it can be difficult to know which changes are actually worth making. If you’re unsure of where to start, there are some great resources available to help industry professionals get and stay on track. Organisations like Climate Fresk provide workshops to improve our understanding of the science behind climate change and apps like AWorld can help engage individuals and teams towards meeting sustainability targets.  

For a wider overview, plus opportunities to network and collaborate with others, there are also a number of fantastic environment-focused festivals and events to attend and support - Earthfest and Blue Earth Summit being two great examples. 

Ensuring campaigns are ethical 

The flip side to saying ‘no’ to the bad guys is supporting the good and helping game-changing products and services reach audiences, achieve mainstream adoption and have a tangible impact. However, even the most well-meaning projects can unravel if messages aren’t carefully thought through and in line with current regulations. 

Luckily, there’s a wealth of information out there to help marketing and creative professionals craft authentic and ethical campaigns and communications. The Creatives for Climate anti-greenwashing guidelines and Purpose Disruptors recent Reimagining Advertising report are both useful resources to begin with. 

Championing positive work

The marketing and creative industries can be extremely competitive but when it comes to the climate crisis, we’re all in this together - so it’s important to champion and support positive work when we see it. There’s so many fantastic campaigns that we can be inspired by, encouraging people to take action, spend time in nature and appreciate our planet. 

The Woodland Trust and Adam Buxton partnering up to encourage us to plant more trees, The National Trust’s ‘Space to Feel’ campaign and Enviral’s work with Greenpeace UK on The Big Plastic Count are some examples worth checking out. Special mention also goes to Imagine5 who produce thought-provoking content about under-the-radar sustainability stories and the RSPB’s TikTok for making nature fun, accessible and inclusive.    

Greener every day

In our daily working lives, there are various ways to make sustainable changes, including adopting hybrid working or greener methods of transport, switching to a more eco-friendly pension provider or employee benefits package, and getting involved with volunteering days and community projects. 

Carbon accounting or tracking can also be a helpful way for individuals and teams to assess their own climate impact and startups such as Ecologi provide free tools to help people understand areas for improvement. 

Partnering up with sustainable companies throughout the supply chain is a really important part of this. Resources, such as Earthmark, aim to simplify our understanding of environmental performance - providing a data-led scoring system to help people and businesses make better decisions about the brands they’re engaging with. 

Creative thinking to address the climate crisis 

Coming up with creative solutions to problems is what the marketing and communications industry does best - in this sense, the climate crisis can be viewed as the most challenging but potentially rewarding brief of our time. 

At 33Seconds, we wanted to apply our specialist communication skills and knowledge to this issue, so back in 2020 we launched Earthtopia - an eco community across TikTok and Instagram designed to provide people with positive news, tips and advice to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle. The community has now grown to over 500K and we’ve also partnered with the likes of the UN, Earthshot Prize and WWF along the way. 

However we approach the climate challenge, it’s critically important that as an industry, we work together to continually focus our creative thinking, share knowledge and adopt a collective mindset. To take positive action today, sign the Clean Creatives pledge against working with fossil fuel companies - over 1,000 agencies and practitioners have already.   

Guest Author

Rob Greenfield

Head of Earthtopia Earthtopia


Rob Greenfield is Head of Earthtopia - an eco-community founded by specialist communications agency 33Seconds. 33Seconds is a team of communication experts, creatives and strategists who believe in the power of business to create a better future. In 2020, the agency set up Earthtopia, which today has over 500K followers across TikTok and Instagram and continues to grow. Earthtopia provides eco-related content, tips and positive news to inspire engagement, interest and action. Via the community, Earthtopia also works with like-minded brands including The Body Shop, Lush and eBay, as well as partnering with charities and organisations such as the UN, WWF and Earthshot Prize. Rob is passionate about the role the marketing and creative industries play in our collective journey to net zero and a more sustainable society. He regularly speaks at events and runs workshops to share his knowledge with brands and companies who want to make a positive difference.