Combating Climate Change Through Business Solutions

Libby Mensch ’23 experiences hands-on opportunity promoting sustainable business practices

Libby Mensch ’23
By Isabella Marin ’23 Photography by Gabe Souza
January 13, 2022

How do you tackle a problem as big as climate change? 

The Climate Board’s answer: one organization at a time. 

Joining the Climate Board last summer, Libby Mensch ’23 was able to see this strategy in action—and test-run a career at the intersection of business and environmental policy at the same time. 

With one Colby connection turning into an incredible opportunity, Mensch undertook a 10-week, full-time internship with the Climate Board  (TCB) as a summer analyst. Through generous funding from the Buck Lab for Climate and Environment, the Colby junior aided the company in its goal of addressing climate change through business action. Mensch, a government major and economics minor, contributed a fresh, new perspective to the environmental policy focus of the company.

Speaking on the overarching mission of TCB, Mensch commented, “Through understanding what companies are doing to limit their climate emissions and the strategies they are using, the whole ethos of the Climate Board is leveraging industry knowledge and using syndicated research to help companies implement best practices.” Offering timely guidance and practical, cost-effective solutions to climate challenges, TCB empowers organization leaders to pursue sustainable business. 

Interviewing with cofounder and COO Ken Bruder ’81, Mensch quickly knew the position would be a good fit. As the two connected over shared experiences and passions, she was inspired to hear how the Natural Resource Economics course she was currently enrolled in was a driving force for Bruder. “The opportunity was made extra special by having a Colby alum at the firm and feeling that connection to Colby during my work there,” she noted. “Feeling like someone was looking out for me from an alumni standpoint.”

Focused on offering clients insight specific to their industries, the company tasked Mensch with two main focal points: the fashion industry and the infrastructure industry. 

Turning her focus toward the fashion industry first, Mensch spearheaded the data analysis for a report for Textile Exchange. The nonprofit, creating leaders in the sustainable fibers and materials industry, collaborates with leading companies, including Nike, Ikea, and Target. 

“The emerging space for combining sustainability solutions with business practices is something that’s really important because it’s the crossroads that a lot of these climate talks are coming to.”

Libby Mensch ’23

Bringing her economics education to this opportunity, Mensch easily adapted to her main task of pulling raw data and translating it into real-world impact. Compiling and editing an abundance of data sets, the intern researched the carbon pricing market and its use within the fashion industry. Focusing on internal carbon prices, she analyzed the potential impact of incorporating the environmental harm caused in production within the final cost of the product. Bruder noted how Mensch’s background positioned her as an insightful contributor vital to the success of this project.

Additionally, Mensch was invited to sit in on crucial meetings with key companies in the fashion industry, such as Reformation. The women’s clothing brand epitomizes sustainable business, promising to be carbon negative by 2025. Her work in this sector culminated in the recently published collaborative research report Friction Points in Fashion and Textiles: Removing Barriers and Accelerating Climate Action.

Shifting to her next project, Mensch uncovered a newfound passion in the infrastructure industry. Performing research on companies in the sector in order to identify the significant players, Mensch dissected sustainability, annual, and customer data platform (CDP) reports to unearth emissions data and carbon goals.

Shocked by the lack of regulation within the infrastructure sector, she realized how effective consumer pressure is to motivating a company’s sustainability efforts. “It’s not often that we even know the names of [infrastructure] companies that are building the wood that goes into all of our buildings. Their sustainability efforts often just fall under the rug.” Without fear of consumer backlash or the desire to use sustainability as a marketing technique, she commented, companies in this industry are able to operate without much oversight. 

Seeing the internship as a wake-up call to the pressing need to address climate change through business action, Mensch anticipates increasing attention toward this particular type of work in the future. “Helping companies help themselves through implementing sustainability efforts is a space where there’s real potential for tangible change.” 

“Colby really prepared me, because a liberal arts education definitely has a big emphasis on combining analysis with creativity and connecting across broad themes. It forces you to zoom out and think holistically and critically about a problem.”

Libby Mensch ’23

At the same time, the Climate Board values the talent that Colby students, through the Buck Lab, bring to their mission. “The climate space is getting increasingly complex as companies search for how to reduce emissions after picking all the low-hanging fruit,” said Bruder. “We need people with a broad perspective on systems, society, industry, and governments who are proficient with analytical techniques to help us find solutions. Colby provides that.”

Through this internship, Mensch discovered a potential future within this emerging field. She also recognized how the background that many TCB employees had in business fundamentals was essential to the success of the company. Hoping to follow a similar path, Mensch plans on establishing her footing in the general business world and then hopes to return to combining business and sustainability. 

Attaining this foundation has already started for Mensch, who recently committed to a summer internship as an incoming SHINE intern with Deloitte. She plans to bring forward both her skills communicating and collaborating with clients as well as marketing skills developed through this internship. 

Mensch also noted how much she grew personally through this experience. Reflecting on the access that everyday consumers have to the information used by the Climate Board, she recognized the power a single person can have. 

“All the information I was able to get on these sustainability reports, climate reports, CDP reports, and emissions reports was all freely available on the internet. [The internship] showed me just how much information is available at our fingertips and how much we can know.”