Funny Old World is a climate-awareness and business podcast co-hosted by travel writer and sustainability expert Juliet Kinsman and award-winning broadcaster Simon London. It launched in October 2022 and is powered by sustainability platform Weeva, which aims to promote eco-friendly tourism and hospitality.
The six-part series interviews a range of expert guests, including head of civic action and education at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue Jennie King, founder of carbon footprint consultancy Ecollective Charlie Cotton, climate justice activist and international spokesperson of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines Mitzi Jonelle Tan, and many more.
The aim of the podcast is for the hosts to break down serious environmental topics – from how to reduce your carbon footprint to how the media is portraying the climate emergency – through talking to sustainability experts, while still maintaining an entertaining tone that engages the listeners and counters ‘sustainability fatigue’.
Kinsman said: “Our mission is to engage people with the WHY it matters and the how and what to do when it comes to sustainability and tackling the climate emergency – but in simple terms, with a little laughter along the way.”
We asked Kinsman to describe how her podcast came to be and how this platform has helped her achieve her aim of raising awareness on the climate challenges.
Why did you start your podcast?
There just weren't any entertaining podcasts – or 'edutaining' as I aim for: educational and entertaining – about all things eco out there except for Sustainababble, which has been going for years. I wanted to take it back to basics and rather than weekly ramblings, start with a tight set of six episodes zooming in on the essentials: carbon, waste, economics and so on. Suddenly, recently lots of pods referencing climate in the title have popped up, often helmed by celebrities – but they are often a bit earnest or lack humour or a fresh perspective. There are lots of news and current affairs ones too – I love the Guardian and Sky News. Ours is just a bit silly too. I first met Simon years ago at his pub quiz called Seventh Heaven in our local – he is genuinely the most brilliant host and raconteur, he has an infectious, uplifting energy and a brain that races at a million miles an hour jumping from ’80s pop trivia to serious up-to-the-minute political insights. Our chats bring in a little of that and – I hope! – demystify some of the sustainability basics without the same-old-same-old sustainability jargon and scripts, as it's just two pals chatting, but in quite a structured way – where one doesn't come from sustainability and is just asking honest questions like a listener might. We’ve had it described by some audience members as being like a crash course in sustainability basics from some pals who know their shizzle, but who are also good fun.
What advice do you wish you’d been given when you first started?
Speak to all your guests in live time together when you're in the studio if you're recording professionally. It's much harder than you realise to deliver an intelligent, seemingly uncontrived conversation that flows when crowbarring in Zoom calls with experts done at a different time. Luckily we had a ninja of a sound engineer in Andy Hughes from Love Electric Studios who is the aural production equivalent of an industrial-strength iron when it comes to smoothing out the final edit.
How many people does it take to create an episode of your show?
2 + 2 + 2 = 6! Me and Simon hosting (I'd map out the content for the shows then we went through this together, and Simon would make me laugh a lot with his trademark trivia and irreverence); editor Mark Machado of 11-29 Media and Andy at Love Electric ensuring we captured out chats to a high quality. Plus two ‘phone in’ guests per episode.
And then there’s the invaluable behind-the-scenes support from digital marketing dynamo Rosie Stubbs and the team at the sustainability management software system HQ, who really made it possible for us to do this series. I asked for a fee just to make it and they let us have free rein and didn’t lead us at all on what to talk about – having the designers at Weeva rustle up all our assets has been so helpful. Everyone thinks podcasts are easy peasy to DIY – maybe if you have a lot of spare time to squander on Canva; I have a life to lead and deadlines to meet! The graphics and upload is a massive job in itself. The whole process is much more work than many might imagine. We've been relying on digital word of mouth to raise awareness, and got some lovely feedback, and I'm sure more people would love to know about it.
Do you monetise your podcast (and if so, how?)
It wasn't conceived as a money-spinner, and I didn't want to have advertising, but I did get a fee to allow us to make it. I approached the sustainability company to give us the budget to produce the podcasts professionally – I'm so grateful we were able to fund the series, as I first had the idea to do this at the start of 2020 but never got around to making it happen. It's a lot of work. Now I'd just like more people to know about it and spread some helpful sustainability insights and advice!
How do you promote your podcast?
Social media, mostly – heyyyy from @julietkinsman @weareweeva on Instagram and @julietkinsman @slondonuk @weareweeva on Twitter #FunnyOldWorld – and Katy at Atalanta is a kindred spirit at amplifying stories of activism and impact, and she did a small, target outreach to key press.
Who listens to your podcast?
My background is in journalism and in the travel industry and loads of people have messaged me from my 25 years of working on magazines, websites and working with hotels as a sustainability consultant, saying they're loving it and learning lots… Including lifelong sustainability professionals, which is heartening. What I'd really like though is loads of people who have heard chat about the climate crisis but not yet really stopped to better understand the interconnectedness of some of the basics, so they can have a better grasp of how and why we need to better look after people and planet – ugh that's such a cliché, and what I try and avoid usually! Most people are aware of global warming, of course, and what that means (although you'd be shocked how many still think it's to do with the ozone later) – and people at all levels of knowledge say they really appreciate hearing why decarbonisation matters from our industry experts, the challenges of transitioning to greener business practices, why and how waste and what we eat is all part of the problem. Our conversations balance simple explanations of the science with relatable tips for everyday eco-ification of our lives, along with more radical but still applicable ideas from big thinkers who have figured out ways to shepherd us to a more responsible, helpful way of being.
What have you learned about yourself since starting your podcast?
Ha! That I really love talking about the climate emergency in a way that doesn't make cortisol levels spike, and that life is better when you can get stuck into serious chats about sombre topics with a little wit and humour… And that a grown-up dialogue can still be meaningful even when you have a penchant for puerile gags. I’ve also learned that Simon is able to stay up very late, until 2am, occasionally drunk-tweeting, adept at juggling work on various projects simultaneously from producing short-form content for some of the biggest brands, while keeping his side hustle website for the best family days out in London, Kidrated updated, and still managing to be perky and chirpy for a 9am start. I juggle a lot as Sustainability Editor of Condé Nast Traveller, as an author of eco-travel books and with my consultancy Bouteco that helps brands with their sustainability creds in a way that is free of greenwash.
What was the last podcast you listened to?
Something Rhymes With Purple! I take a lot of very long train journeys when avoiding flying and never tire of escaping into their etymological explanations. Favourite facts learned from them most recently: that swearing actively reduces stress levels. And that a Fysigunkus is a person devoid of curiosity – the absolute antithesis of a Funny Old World listener, I am thinking.