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October 23, 2019

People in beta #5: Plan A - The Data-Driven Fighters Against Climate Change

Plan A are not the usual climate change fighters. They’re absolutely data-driven and manage to keep a positive mindset and speak in an understandable and engaging manner. We sat down with Lubomila and Nathan from Plan A to understand how they empower others and help businesses and individuals to save our planet and act now.

You’ve probably already met them at ''The Cocktails For The Planet'', you’ve watched some of the documentaries they show at ''The Green Movie Night'' or have learned fun facts about climate change at ''The Pub Quiz''. They’ve been around the ‘haus for more than 2 years now. How they’ve changed throughout the years, what they’ve learned on their mission and how to keep a positive mindset on the subject of climate change - the answers are in our interview with Lubomila (Co-Founder) and Nathan (Head of Marketing) from Plan A.

THEIR STORY

In our previous interview from 2017 Lubomila told us about how a trip to Morocco got her really concerned about the future of our planet and absolutely changed her life path. After this trip, Lubomila became obsessed with learning about climate change. She started reading books, taking online courses and pursued her own research which would later serve as the foundation of their current online platform.

Plan A betahaus Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
A typical working day at Plan A's Team Desk - Photo by Lea GK

Lubomila: I started creating a massive spreadsheet with indicators about every country on our planet. Then I compared how much money flows into these countries with regards to protecting nature, versus what is actually happening in the country. It turned out that there are a lot of discrepancies. That’s when I decided to quit my job in London, move to Berlin and start my own company. And this is how in April 2017, Plan A was born. 

After meeting Christoph (Co-Founder, betahaus | Berlin) at the birthday party of betahaus | Sofia, and talking with him about sustainability in Berlin, Lubomila came to betahaus for a trial month and never left. In the beginning, she worked alone on the project. On her own, Lubomila developed the first version of their website and made a call on social media for people who want to help her with her mission. And this is how Nathan joined Plan A in 2017.

Nathan: I was finishing a project with a former organization that was working in fundraising and communication back then. When I saw the call on social media saying that Lubomila was searching for support to do fundraising for sustainable and  climate action, I directly hopped on the call and we have been working together ever since.

With two people on its team, Plan A started taking shape and turned into the first-ever knowledge and donation platform solely for the fight against climate change. Every month they focused on one project, spreading information and raising money. 

Plan A betahaus Nathan Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
Nathan working on some content ideas - Photo by Lea GK


HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THE FIRST VERSION OF PLAN A AND HOW DID IT CHANGE OVER THE YEARS?

Lubomila: One of the biggest issues that I faced really early in the process was that the science behind climate change was really complicated and very poorly or not at all communicated. It was hard for stakeholders to understand the problem and get involved. With the initial platform in 2017, I wanted to make it clear to people how they can get involved, explain the different projects we have running around the world and, what kind of problem they’re solving.

Nathan: It’s important to add that Plan A has always been data-driven. The foundation of anything that we do is the data that we’ve been collecting since the beginning.

Lubomila: Exactly! Having this foundation, we now have two sides of Plan A. One is for the individuals - providing informative content in all kinds of forms and building a community - and the other one is focused on helping businesses become more sustainable. 

Lubomila: Our team has also grown a lot in the last couple of months. We currently have 9 people on the team and we’ve evolved in something like the United Nations because we have people from South Africa, France, India, UK, Australia, I personally come from Bulgaria …

The full Plan A Team - Photo by Lea GK


WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE FOR INDIVIDUALS TO ACT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE. WHERE DO YOU START AND HOW TO NOT GET OVERWHELMED?

Nathan: The first step is always to learn more about the problem, understand it in-depth and then find how to make positive changes in your lifestyle, day by day. We as a company try to inform individuals and also empower them to speak up, and use their voice in their surroundings and social circles and so they can start implementing this climate change action on a bigger scale.

Lubomila: That’s why since the beginning, we focus mostly on gathering data on the problem and sharing it in a fun and digestible way. There are a few channels that we focus on when it comes to the connection with individuals. We have The Academy, where we do interviews and expert analysis explaining the problems in a very kind way. We have Mighty Networks, which is a closed platform where individuals and NGOs can talk to each other and exchange knowledge. And of course, we have events, which is a really powerful tool for us to build a community. These events are focused on meeting scientists, on fundraising for environmental organizations or on educating people about issues that they maybe didn't know of.

Nathan: One of the most important parts of your mission against climate change as an individual is making it fun. It’s not about limiting yourself or making huge sacrifices. We rather see it as an opportunity and it can actually be cool.

Small details on Plan A's Team Desk - Photo by Lea GK

YOU SPEAK ABOUT THE PROBLEM IN A VERY FUN AND POSITIVE MANNER. WHY THAT? ISN’T IT TIME TO PANIC?

Lubomila: That’s true! What we have made sure that happens there and Nathan has been amazing with this, is that we consistently speak positively about the issues, not because we’re in a positive situation, but because the only way you can empower people is by giving them a set of tools with which they can act and encouraging them that they have the capacity to be part of the change. If we continue speaking about apocalyptic statistics, that in 12 years, we're going to die or that you have to blame this stakeholder or that stakeholder, we're never going to get anywhere close to solving the issues. Solving the issues is about collaboration.

Nathan: My main challenge as a head of content was how to get a maximum number of people on board and make them as efficient as possible. Since we are a data-driven company, a lot of my time is spent translating this information into something that is understandable and actionable I’m constantly looking at everything that everyone does outside of Plan A and finding a way to represent our content in a positive and engaging way.

Plan A betahaus Lubomila Yordanova Climate Change
Details from Plan A's Team Desk and Space - Photo by Lea GK

WHAT ABOUT THE COMPANIES? WHAT ARE SOME STEPS THAT BUSINESSES CAN DO TO BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE AND HOW SHOULD THEY GO ABOUT IT?

Lubomila: The carbon footprint of a company is always involving what's happening in the actual office but it also involves the external partners and choices. We always advise companies to start in-house, looking at what's happening in their office and within their team. As second comes the communication aspect including how you present yourself as a brand and what you communicate to your customers or online followers. Then the final step is actually implementing changes on a product level, looking deep at the supply chain, and checking if all small parts of your product are sustainable - for ex. the packaging, products made with palm oil, etc.

Lubomila: Our focus has been shifted towards actually educating businesses on what is sustainability and helping them connect to actions that can make them immediately more sustainable, and reduce their carbon emission level. This is also where our new tool comes in handy. We have built a platform which calculates, monitors and offsets CO2 emissions, that are created by a certain company and connects them to environments and projects that you can now see on our platform.

Plan A's Team Desk and Space - Photo by Lea GK

HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK EXACTLY?

If a company wants to get on their sustainability journey, they come to us and the first thing we do is an initial analysis. We ask them around 20 questions, which gives us an overview of how sustainable or unsustainable they are, we understand what's their emission level on a monthly basis and then we propose to them projects that they can use to offset their emissions. The point of this, and why we shifted is because actually, close to 70% of emissions on this planet are created by businesses. And unfortunately, very few businesses actually have any sustainability strategy. They don't know how to become better and they don't know what they need to do. So, this is where we're helping to kind of giving them an action plan as well as a place where they can immediately support a positive impact.

Vihra (betahaus): We as a company have also worked together with Plan A to create an actionable plan for our spaces and make them more sustainable. They also keep us accountable and support us on our journey. So why don’t you? 
Plan A betahaus Lubomila Yordanova
Plan A's Team Desk and Space - Photo by Lea GK


WE ALSO MET ON THE CLIMATE STRIKE ON THE 20 SEPTEMBER WHERE WE ALSO SAW MANY OTHER COMPANIES TAKING PART. HOW AS YOUR EXPERIENCE ON THAT DAY?

Nathan: I was really happy to see that there were lots of marches in different places in the city I was really hopeful and happy to see that there were kids, parents, teachers, party crews, everyone was on the streets and it was nice to see so many people concerned and involved with this. This being said, I come from France. Protest there includes much more loud voices, cries and chants and it was what I'm kind of used to. So to me it was very, very orderly but I left very hopeful, actually. 

Nathan: At the same time it’s important to remember that Berlin is a bubble for sustainability

Lubomila: That’s true. There are a lot of projects happening at the moment which sometimes can be deceiving. Because it lets people think that this is what the whole planet thinks and feels. It generates a bit of a fake hope about our moving on the climate change topic. I would say that when Plan A started, it was really difficult to find anyone to speak about climate change. Now. It's kind of THE topic but we still have a long way to go.

Plan A at the Climate Strike in Berlin on 20th September - Photo by Lubomila

WHERE CAN WE SEE YOU NEXT?

Lubomila: ‘’The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Fashion’’ is coming on the 5th of November where we’ll be showing fashion from the social, economic and environmental perspective. We have a lot of awesome speakers for that. In December, we're doing another Green Movie Night - this time about Berlin and how Berlin can make sure to become more sustainable, because there's still a lot of things that need to happen here. We're throwing a Christmas Party, which is going to be fundraising for a project in Berlin and also releasing officially our platform with a big, big splash.

AND FINALLY, WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE SUSTAINABLE PLACES AROUND BERLIN?

Lubomila: This Sunday I just discovered this new restaurant that opened in Mitte called FREA. It’s zero waste and is a result of a crowdfunding campaign. It's a really beautiful place with very good food and nice values.

Nathan: My new favourite place is called Karma Kultur. It’s a little space, arranged with wooden planks and decoration. And I just stumbled upon it while walking around, exploring my new neighborhood. And it’s really nice. The owners try to live fully sustainable or be as fully sustainable as possible.

Lubomila Yordanova, Nathan Plan A and Vihra betahaus Lea GK
Lubomila, Nathan and Vihra in betahaus | Kreuzberg - Photo by Lea GK

If you haven’t already, make sure to follow Plan A’s Instagram account to get your daily dose of fun facts, stories and event updates around climate change.

''People in beta’’ is a series of blog posts, in which Vihra - our Marketing Manager - interviews teams and members to understand who they are, what they’re most passionate about, and what brought them to coworking. Read more here and become a part of the coworking tribe.

Interested in joining the beta family? Check out our membership options here.

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