Spotlights

thinkPARALLAX spotlight: Sami Grover

thinkPARALLAX
June 18, 2024
Spotlights

thinkPARALLAX spotlight: Sami Grover

Name: Sami Grover

Title: Director, Communications Strategy

Current residence: Durham, North Carolina

Hometown: Bristol, England 

Fun fact: I once vowed never to fly again for climate reasons, and then promptly fell in love with a woman on the other side of the Atlantic. I have come to believe that flexibility is an important part of sustainability. 

Tell us about your background. How did you end up at tPX?

I’ve followed two parallel paths in my career track, both of which are deeply relevant to the work at tPX. 

On the one hand, I’m a climate writer and book author whose focus has been on taking complex sustainability topics and making them relevant and interesting to audiences who need to hear them. I’ve written thousands of articles for Treehugger. I’ve had my byline in publications like Salon, Mother Jones, and Undark Magazine. And—in 2021—I published my first book, We’re All Climate Hypocrites Now, which argues for a kinder, more systems-focused approach to ‘individual action’ on climate change. 

On the other hand, I’m a communications and brand strategist with a specific focus on leveraging genuine sustainability efforts to develop more authentic, effective communications and brands. My clients have included Burt’s Bees, Larry’s Coffee, Canaan Fair Trade Olive Oil, Dogwood Alliance, and Jada Pinkett Smith/Overbrook Entertainment. 

I also once invented a word. According to Adweek, I’m responsible for co-coining the term ‘greenhushing.’ It has since become a bit of a buzzword, and refers to the practice of downplaying or minimizing communications around sustainability—often for fear of criticism or scrutiny. 

What’s your favorite part of your job?

I absolutely love getting in the weeds and learning about how ESG topics manifest themselves for different industries—both in terms of challenges, but also opportunities. I firmly believe that tackling the social and ecological crises we face means grappling with immense complexity—and we get to help our clients to do exactly that.

thinkPARALLAX’s purpose is to inspire fresh perspectives on sustainable business transformation. What perspective do you bring to tPX, our clients, and/or our industry?

One of the core themes of my career is that simple is often better when it comes to communication. That means we have to act as translators. We help to unpack technical concepts like Scope 1, 2, 3 emissions or materiality assessments, and we do so in a way that meets audiences where they are. And we do that by tapping into their existing values, emotions, and interests. The goal is to do all that truthfully, authentically, and without ever ‘dumbing it down.’ (‘Dumbing it down’ is a phrase I wish we could consign to the recycling bin.) 

What’s a project you’ve worked on (at tPX or a previous role) that you really enjoyed or that felt really meaningful?

I’m a big believer in honesty, including and especially when your efforts have fallen short. Years ago, Larry’s Coffee—a client—launched a supposedly biodegradable bag to much fanfare. Over time, however, we started hearing from critics that the claims being made for it were not credible. Larry (rightly) nixed the bag. But then he/we did something much cooler: We gave our critics a platform, we shared our learnings with the hope that others could avoid the mistakes that we had made. Essentially we exposed ourselves for greenwashing, and we were able to start a real, meaningful conversation with the folks who had called us out.

I’ve started referring to this type of transparency and honesty as “greenblushing,” but I might be slightly addicted to inventing green-related neologisms.  

What causes are you most interested in?

I’ve worked on climate-related action since my teens—attending protests against road building in the ’90s, and promoting community-based renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. Throughout, I gravitate toward causes, initiatives, and ideas that seek to not just tackle climate change—but do so in a way that brings real, immediate co-benefits, like economic development, equity, health. That’s what gets me really excited: Not just curbing the destruction, but building something better. 

What brings you joy outside of work?

I love spending time in the woods with my wife and two daughters, exploring the natural world, and eating delicious, sustainable and (mostly!) healthy food. I love cooking, and have recently gotten mildly obsessed with perfecting homemade pasta. I am told by my family (among others!) that I also have questionable taste in music but hey, it brings me joy. 

thinkPARALLAX spotlight: Sami Grover
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