Well in the past year they have all pushed the sustainability agenda in a variety of ways. The recent activity here in Australia by Greenpeace targeting Coca-Cola in its latest campaign put sustainability issues back on the radar; their ad was “a call-to-action for Australia’s” as they put it.
Any effort by a brand to promote sustainability or to be more sustainable should be applauded, but it does not always have to be so controversial, not saying we don’t like controversy mind you.
Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic announced that fashion designer Vivienne Westwood would be the new mastermind behind their uniform makeover for staff across the airline’s entire fleet. And this initiative is not a flash in the pan one, it is a ten-year collaboration which focuses on sustainability, with uniforms manufactured from recycled materials, including polyester yarn made from plastic bottles, the uniforms will be rolled out by the end of 2013.
As a researcher I have done a lot of work on coffee brands (and I always need a good caffeine fix to get the day going), and so for me it is particularly good to see brands such as Nespresso pledging to buy more coffee from sustainable plantations and Nestle, the brand owner and leader in the single-serve coffee market, is bringing its sustainability program to Ethiopia and Kenya, forming an advisory board comprised of Fairtrade International and Rainforest Alliance members—and George Clooney (now that is something we would like to work on as researchers).
Nespresso has beaten its goal of sourcing 80% of its coffee through the company’s 10 year-old AAA sustainability program, so next time you pop a pod think of the good you are doing.
And as a keen shopper and fan of IKEA which is one of if not the largest global user of wood, consuming an estimated 1% of the world’s supply annually (according to the Daily Mail) to stock its 300 odd stores around the world, it is good to see they are doing something about it. In 2012, for example, IKEA started using corrugated cardboard pallets instead of wooden ones. But more importantly in its last annual Sustainability Report, Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard says the company has “a long-term sustainable supply of wood” and uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood that supports the improvement of forest management. According to Howard, “all our wood is sourced from suppliers that meet our forestry standards and in FY12, 22.6% of our wood was from forests certified by the FSC.”
Nike as part of its corporate responsibility has “a commitment to making a Better World” and as such is determined to produce more environmentally conscious, and sustainably innovative, products. And they are trying to get others to do the same, in order to do this they have released an app called “Making” which helps both designers and consumers decide what source materials are the most environmentally responsible. The app “ranks materials used in apparel manufacturing in terms of the use of water, types of chemistry, amount of energy and the levels of waste required during production,”.
As a researcher I love projects that help brands move forward on sustainability programs so these initiatives are great to see, but I wonder what more can be done to get the man on the street involved in these, so that they don’t remain just lofty ideas but result in real action.
This post was originally written for the Jigsaw Blog