OK, I admit it, beyond recycling I am not a hard core environmentalist – although I did recently buy something from the H&M Conscious Collection, in case I get any extra points for that.
That said, I worry about the world that my daughter will inherit, and I expect the brands that I buy and buy into to be environmentally responsible. I am obviously not alone, as a global Nielsen study found that among socially-conscious consumers, 66% think that companies should support the environment –with the environment ranked higher than any other specific cause.
By now, most brands have figured out that being environmentally-minded isn’t optional, and accusations of ‘greenwashing’ serve as a reminder that their efforts need to authentic. Over time, I have also noticed the responsibility shift from the hands of the consumer (‘buy this, it’s the better choice for the environment’ or simply ‘recycle this when you’re done…’) back to the brand or the company itself. Our client P&G doesn’t just tell us to recycle empty bottles of Lenor or Pantene, they have made a company-wide commitment to reducing waste. My favourite example is that paper sludge from a Charmin toilet tissue plant in Mexico is turned into low-cost roof tiles used to build homes in the local community – they are truly living up to their mantra of ‘waste from worth’.
With Earth Day looming, I was curious how brands were marking the occasion – here are a couple examples that caught my eye:
Beauty brands seem to be all over Earth Day –Kiehl’s and Aveda have taken the traditional (but still worthy) route, and are making donations to eco-friendly charities with the purchase of select products.
Australian skincare brand Jurlique decided to move from product to posts this Earth Day and is offering ‘Green Goody Bags’ to Instagram followers who post picture tagged #Beautifulontheinside
And moving right on from skincare to…space? NASA has jumped on the Selfie brandwagon, and is inviting people inviting people to send in selfies taken in their respective environments with special printable signs. NASA will then to combine each of these images and release a "blue marble" mosaic of the Earth built from the collected images.
While these example swing the pendulum of responsibility back into the hands of the consumer (even if all we have to do is upload a selfie), US-department store Kohl’s is bucking the trends with their employees volunteering for projects including the removal of invasive species and planting native vegetation with Tree Musketeers in Los Angeles and the creation of an outdoor classroom with the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee.
Even if one of the examples is from NASA, none of these Earth Day activations are ‘out of this world’ so to speak… That said, a brand that makes a long term commitment to being environmentally responsible is far more believable, and ultimately more buy-able, than a brand using Earth Day for headlines or hashtag fame.
So happy Earth Day all. If it wasn’t so unflattering, I would even wear green today….
Avra Lorrimer is head of household, consumer packaged goods at Hill+Knowlton Strategies