Sustainability has become a huge buzzword for brands across all industries. Environmental concerns are increasingly important to consumers and having good products isn’t enough to gain customers anymore. Shoppers are actively looking for brands they can align their own personal values with.
Since the beginning of the pandemic and various lockdowns, it has been reported that 60% of consumers were making more environmentally friendly, sustainable or ethical purchases—with an estimated 9 out of 10 pledging to continue doing so when back in normality. Research has also shown that 65% of global consumers said it is important that climate change is prioritised in the economic recovery from COVID-19.
To go hand-in-hand with this, consumers are demanding transparency from brands. They want to know exactly what a brand’s sustainability pledge is, and the realistic steps the brand will take to ensure the pledge is met. Almost every brand on the planet has some form of sustainability pledge out there, but a significant amount of these are simply marketing ploys. We’ve found our favourite initiatives that have a real, positive impact on our planet.
The Swedish conglomerate has taken a huge step towards its 2030 pledge to become a circular business by opening a second-hand store in Sweden. Opening in November 2020, the store initially opened as a six month pop-up in collaboration with ReTuna Shopping Centre. The pop-up sells items that have been damaged, but repaired at ReTuna to give them a second chance at life. The collaboration will help IKEA understand why its products are turned into waste, the condition the products are in when they’re thrown away and if there’s an interest in purchasing repaired products.
The initiative helps IKEA inspire people to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and will transform the business from a linear to a circular business model. The store opening coincides with IKEA’s new “Frugal Favours the Frugal” campaign, which features IKEA products that can help consumers be more environmentally friendly – whether that means growing herbs at home, or buying rugs made from recycled plastic.
Patagonia is one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly brands available, and has previously been named a UN Champion of the Earth, receiving the UN’s top environmental honour for its dedication to creating a sustainable business model. Its most recent endeavor is Patagonia Worn Wear, an initiative dedicated to repairing, recycling and reselling old products customers have traded back in. Worn Wear encourages Patagonia customers to take care of their items, and when they no longer need or want a Patagonia product, to trade it in to a Worn Wear store or online in exchange for store credit.
At pop-up Worn Wear stores, Patagonia provides repairing services, and also gives customers the tools they need to repair their products at home. Worn Wear encourages customers to actively avoid over-consuming products and ensuring products live to their full life expectancy. This helps avoid the CO2 emissions, wastage and water usage required to make a new garment.
Sportswear brand Adidas has previously ventured into environmentally friendly production methods, collaborating with Parley Oceans to create products made from recycled ocean plastic waste, and developing its own range “Primegreen” which includes products made solely from recycled materials.
It’s most recent step to becoming a circular business is vegan trainers made from mushroom leather. To develop the shoes, Adidas has partnered with Bolt Threads, the company that produces the leather. The material, named Mylo™, is made from mycelium – the part of a mushroom that extends below the ground. The shoe, which doesn’t yet have a release date, will be the brand’s first ever fully biodegradable shoe.
BrewDog is the world’s first carbon negative brewery, and it has set a new standard for sustainability. The brewery already tackles its carbon footprint with the BrewDog Forest, where it aims to plant one million trees in order to cancel out the carbon it emits, but it has taken on a new environmental challenge: Buy One Get One Tree. For the entirety of 2021, BrewDog has announced it will be planting a new tree every time someone buys a 4 pack of BrewDog beer. It will be working alongside Eden Reforestation Project to plant the extra trees. To encourage people to buy the 4 packs, BrewDog ran a promotion where it offered customers a free 4 pack of Lost Lager.
LEGO has various initiatives in place to achieve a circular business model, and it recently invested $400 million to accelerate its sustainability efforts. LEGO’s manufacturing operations will be carbon neutral by 2022 by focusing on using renewable energy and ensuring no waste is sent to landfill. It also has plans to create all of its products from biodegradable materials by 2030.
It’s most recent initiative is LEGO Replay, which was successfully trialled in the US and Canada, and is expected to be fully operating in two more countries by 2022. This initiative encourages the donations of old LEGO bricks to children in need. Due to the durability of LEGO products, bricks made 40 years ago are still suitable to fit bricks made today. To prevent these being sent to landfill, LEGO accepts donations and then redistributes the bricks to children across the US and Canada—so far reaching nearly 43,000 children.
Consumers are becoming more and more savvy at seeing through brands that simply use sustainability as a marketing tool and they need to know exactly how brands are helping the planet. Transparency is being demanded across the whole company, from supply chain to manufacture to marketing. Without transparency, customers are likely to take their money elsewhere.
Sustainability needs to be a priority for companies across every industry. Whether this is done by becoming a circular business, investing in renewable energy sources or by buying and planting a whole forest—it is important that brands not only meet the ethical and environmental demands of consumers, but genuinely prevent further damage to our planet.
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