Sustainability isn’t going to be solved through money moves, power politics or traditional thinking. Here’s why we’re betting on the power of creative ideas.
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One of the most significant truths of 2020: right now, the biggest climate change catalysts are all wildly distinctive, ranging from a 94-year old English broadcaster with an instantly recognisable voice (and who we all truly love), through to a 17-year old Swedish teenager who speaks truth to power. Both come from different countries and cultures, but they have a few things in common: they’re innovative, they’re willing to rewrite the rules for the sake of our planet, and they’re commanding our attention. Tapping creativity from people like these is an incredibly effective manoeuvre in fighting climate change; as creativity is the one resource that we’ll never run out of.
The latest case in point: the Earthshot prize. Sir David Attenborough has joined forces with Prince William to create the ‘Nobel prize for environmentalism’. The crux of the plan: to provide a search for 50 solutions to the world’s worst eco-problems by 2030, and they’ve got a war chest of £50m for a decade – the biggest prize amount ever awarded to a sustainability project. This is part of his rallying call for the world to invest $500 billion a year to protect Mother Nature.
It’s not about mindlessly donating money.
There are a few reasons why we love the Earthshot project: firstly, it’s not just giving money mindlessly, it’s about finding innovative solutions and then helping them to succeed at scale. The second reason: it promotes the power of the idea. This is close to our heart here in the Because global family, as our formula for success has always relied on the strength and originality of our ideas, and which we then bolster with creative technology. That’s what sets us apart, and it’s also the true, long-term solution to solving the sustainability problem.
Creativity and circular economies are a dynamic duo.
One of the biggest lessons we’ve learnt at Because: sustainability can’t be a bolt-on or an afterthought. It needs to be baked into the cooking right at the start, and your role as a creative partner should also focus on creating strategies that drive towards building a zero-waste circular economy for your clients. Reducing single-use plastic and charity drives are essential, but they’re just the start.
One of the best examples of a circular economy: the global shoe company, Timberland, harvests rubber from old tyres to create new outsoles for their boots and shoes. Another winner: Pentland brands, and specifically, their Berghaus brand, has been focused on reducing microfibres in waste, so they rely on Polartec fabric for all their fleeces, and that’s crafted from recycled plastic bottles – over 1.5 billion to date. And then the last example (and our favourite) is the world-famous furniture brand, IKEA, who have pledged to buy back old furniture on Black Friday so that they can repair and give the pieces a new life. They’re calling it #BuyBackFriday, and not only is it good financial news for customers, but it’s also a better deal for the planet.
One of the worst business culprits for wastage traditionally, the fashion industry, is turning their actions and reputation around. The beauty behind these changes: they’re not being done solely for the planet, they’re doing it to make money too. We loved the ingenuity and creativity behind the strategies so much so that we wrote about it here.
How do you create campaigns for clients that drive them to become greener brands, but while still offering industry-leading products and services? It’s not just about commercial success; it’s also about creating a sustainable business that’s good for the bottom line and the future of the planet.
Rewriting the rules of ownership.
The rise of renting instead of buying is one of our favourite recent trends in sustainability, and a significant part of it comes down to smart subscriptions that cover everything from furniture through to running shoes; and before you ask, no, you don’t have to wear someone else’s stinky shoes. The Cyclon shoes from the brand On are a fully recyclable pair of shoes made from castor beans. When they’re returned, they’re broken down and reworked into a brand-new pair – making them a brilliant, real-world example of a company cutting down on wastage but while offering their customers more. Even though the subscribers are getting new shoes as often as they want, the recycling plan results in less waste.
There are plenty of other examples of these new-aged, eco-friendly subscription and rental plans, like the capsule collection from Levi’s and Ganni in Denmark which consumers can rent, and not buy.
Breaking the brief.
This is where all those marketing cliches can pay off: by using blue-sky thinking, out-of-the-box ideas, and moving outside-of-the-lane, you can reap eco-rewards through offering services in a different industry. One of our favourite examples: Cerveza Corona in Columbia launched Paradise Advisor: a platform that works like Airbnb, but which only offers sustainable and eco-focused tourism options in the country. Even though sustainable tourism is not related to its prime purpose as a beer company, it’s focusing on staycations as a rising trend and trying to help kickstart the national economy. To be fair, people going on holiday locally are also going to drink more beer, so there’s a secondary motivation.
They’re not the only beer we’re toasting; the Brazil-based Cervejaria Colorado has just launched a beer with a price the changes according to deforestation levels in the Amazon rainforest. That’s raising awareness by focusing on the area which customers notice first.
We’re especially happy to report that wine isn’t excluded from these green moves: Tread Softly is a range of wines in Australia that are lighter on the environment and your palate, as they’ve been crafted with minimal impact thanks to clever vineyard and water management. Also, for every 12 bottles sold, a native tree is planted by the company in the Yarra Yarra biodiversity corridor in Western Australia. We’ll toast to that too.
To sum up, we believe true sustainability requires competitions like Earthshot and innovation from people like Sir David, Greta, and savvy marketers. And we for one will certainly be thinking about the part we can play here. Sustainability also needs clients who understand that their companies and brands need to evolve to put the planet first as it is what customers now demand. The true answer to the climate change challenge: creativity and collaboration with the right partners.