A Whole New (Sustainable) World, a New Fantastic Point of View!

 

csr_lightbulbAfter taking this class, I’d have to say my view of sustainability and sustainability marketing has changed quite a bit.

First and foremost, it has made me aware to the many tactics that companies are shamelessly using to appear green, but that are pretty much just scamming consumers such as green washing!  I’ve never really thought about that before, and before this course I would have definitely been tricked into truly believing that these companies were all really green, but now I clearly know better!

Secondly, to be honest before taking this class it wasn’t really a top of mind priority for me to take into consideration green-factors when designing or promoting a product. I remember when I was in grade 10 I did a project where we had to design a product for marketing in another country. I designed shampoo, and made it  come packaged in individual one-use plastic bottles, that you would buy over and over again. I remember my teacher at the time giving me less marks because she wondered about the environmental impact of the project, and I thought to myself “who cares…. it looks pretty, people will love it”. Then this year, I actually took international marketing at the University level, and we had to undertake the same project. During a groups presentation they were explaining their product, and all I could think about the entire time was how unsustainable and bad for the environment the product was! This “aha!” moment was really pivotal for me because it really proved that I’ve kind of almost come full circle in how I think about sustainability in regard to marketing, and how I really consider it to be an extremely important attribute now, and a necessity to consider!

 

Advertisements

Nike’s reuse a shoe….Skeptical.

downloadI was going through blogs, and I stumbled across Adriens… where he mentioned an interesting initiative that Nike is currently undertaking called Reuse a Shoe. As Adrien’s blog explains, the program is designed to let Nike consumers recycle their old shoes when they purchase a new pair of Nikes, and parts of the old shoes will be reused in tracks and sports surfaces. So while I definitely agree with Adrien that this is a great idea, and will put an otherwise garbage product to good use as something else, I can’t help but think it’s an example of green harvesting. I feel like Nike’s operations as a whole are extremely unsustainable, especially in regard to the product treatment facilities and the conditions they force their workers to work under in undeveloped countries… who can forget the infamous sweat shop catastrophe  Now instead of Nike using cleaner facilities, paying their workers more, or providing a healthy place to work, they have chosen to donate old shoes to be seen as sustainable. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Nike collects all the shoes, and then just dishes them off to another company who actually undergoes the effort of turning the material into something that can be used on a track. It just seems to me like they’re going for the low-hanging fruit per se, to get consumers back on their side and supporting them as a “sustainable” company.

Offsetting!

420136_10152301275173306_2042849139_n

My group in class was assigned Offsetters as our company for our team paper, and up until then I had honestly never heard of the concept before. Now that I have learned more about offsetting, I am quite on the fence with how I feel about it to be honest. At first I thought it was really great, companies who participate in industries where poor environmental impact is inevitable have a way to make up for their negative eco-footprint. But then I realized that some companies are using Offsetters almost as a means to justify being harsh on the environment with cost saving technology that has a negative eco-impact. Take Coca-Cola for example… their business is extremely unsustainable, mainly due to the harsh impact that natural resource depletions and transportation of their products has on the Earth. If Coke wanted to be truly sustainable, they would build a production facility in every country the operate in, and would sell coke in a different type of container instead of using precious metals and glass. They would obviously never do this though, because it would be extremely expensive. Instead however, Coke is able to go through a company like Offsetters, and pay money to save a part of the environment that they are essentially harming directly themselves…. seems like a vicious cycle to me! Harm the environment, feel bad…. save the environment, feel good so that you can harm the environment again!

But then again, I suppose the companies with a negative environmental impact are going to exist no matter what, and at least there is a way for them to be accountable and do something about it now!

Banning Bottled Water at UBC

tap5

After scanning though some blog posting, I noticed my friend Julia’s post titled “What’s the Deal with Bottled Water?”. She discussed the controversy that the AMS is currently facing in regard to whether they should ban bottled water, and take a stand for sustainability. The problem with banning bottled water however is that it is a huge seller amongst students at UBC. If you want to read Julia’s post, it can be found here.

So this post really got me thinking. I agree with Julia that eventually the AMS will need to ban bottled water, just based on the fact that it is so harmful on the environment, and it’s a product that has a very inexpensive and easy alternative. However I think that they need to be strategic in how exactly they ban bottled water… for them to simply take bottled water out of all stores on campus would be pretty unfair in my opinion, because it is true that some people do rely on bottled water! Also, while there are water fountains around campus to refill any reusable bottle, the water is never very cold, and it tastes kind of funny. For the AMS to take out bottled water entirely, they need to provide an alternative that is similar in quality to the pristine, ice cold water that people are used to buying. If the AMS are able to do this, I think more people would support the idea.

Slacktivism: Is it really all that bad?

11-movember-main-thelook-620x395

After learning about Slacktivism in class last week, I was really on the fence about how I felt about it.

On one hand, I totally agree with the idea that lots of people partake juuuust enough in a social good to make it evident that they care about the topic, yet they don’t actually contribute any money, help, or action towards solving the issue. But on the other hand, I think that we shouldn’t reprimand people for communicating support for a social cause, even if it is just a simple like of a Facebook page.

I think that the fact that people are doing ANYTHING to support a cause, be it wearing a ribbon, growing a moustache or liking a Facebook page, should be seen as a positive for the cause. At least these people are publicly acknowledging the cause, and committing to it in at least some way. The people wearing a little pink ribbon for breast cancer, albeit they aren’t contributing very much in comparison with those people who participate in runs to raise money, at least they are spreading awareness, and are contributing much more than most people who do absolutely nothing!  Who knows, maybe by growing a moustache, other people who have the money and means to contribute may learn about the cause, and they might contribute!

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better, it’s not

The Lorax

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not” – Dr. Seuss

Growing up, The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss was always my absolute favourite book.

 

I loved all of the bright colourful Truffula trees in the pictures, and the cute little bears and fish that lived in them… not to mention all the rhyming. However until just this weekend, I never really consciously thought much about the message they were  getting across with the story.

For those of you who have never read or seen The Lorax, a man named the Once-ler goes to their beautiful land with these gorgeous colourful Truffula trees, with peaceful waters, and tons of cute little animals living in the water and trees. The Once-ler realizes he can cut down the Truffula trees, and turn their tuffs into ‘Thneeds’, which are these ridiculous looking items that double as a scarf, hat, towel, glove, shirt etc… essentially the most ridiculous product that no one needs at all. Anyway, so it ends up that everyone in Thneedsville loves the Thneed, and the Once-ler ends up chopping down all of the Truffula trees to make sure he can sell as many Thneeds as possible to make as much money as possible. The Lorax is the character who throughout the entire story is trying to tell the Once-ler that he has to stop, and that he is taking away homes for all of the animals and killing all the trees, but the Once-ler’s attitude is that the trees are unlimited, and it’s not a big deal. The Once-ler ends up cutting down all of the trees, all the animals need to leave, and the Lorax leaves just a circle of rocks behind, with one large rock that has the word ‘UNLESS’ written on it.

So the thing that really struck me while watching the movie form of The Lorax this past weekend, it really struck me how cool it was that Dr. Seuss was able to get across the idea of Sustainability, and being careful with our resources, in such a chill and nonchalant way! I always think of messages promoting sustainability to be so severe and stress the importance of the issue to really communicate the idea, but The Lorax did it in a much more light-hearted way, while definitely still communicating the message. In addition to reading the book a million times, the movie really struck a cord with me, and I finally understood what the UNLESS rock meant at the very end of the story. Dr. Seuss is communicating the fact that everyone can keep chopping down trees, fishing, mining oil and depleting the world of all it’s resources, thinking it’s all unlimited, but realistically it is not. And unless we all start noticing this, and really start to make changes, our world is going to be exactly like that of The Lorax.

Sustainable Underwear… why not?!

After reading the case about Matt & Nat and their dedication to making sustainable products, and hearing about the Ten Trees Apparel in class last week, I started to think about other companies that I knew of that focused on sustainable practices as a method of differentiation, and I thought of Clifford Soft Goods.

 
Green_Front-300x300Clifford Soft Goods (CSG) is a company located in Vancouver who competes in the male underwear industry. The think I found really interesting about CSG and their sustainable efforts is that they are making a product that many people overlook as important, and place low in terms of the difficulty of picking a product or brand. CSG is sustainable in terms of their underwear making, as they use 66% rayon from bamboo while making their products. Rayon from bamboo is sustainable because of many reasons, including the fact that bamboo trees are fully sustainable and regrow within only 55 days. In addition, rayon from bamboo requires no pesticide to harvest and grow the trees, and the material requires little irrigation and it is biodegradable.

 

The thing that CSG has succeeded with while selling their product as a sustainable alternative to other companies underwear products, is they’ve kept the product looking as men expect it to look, and above all else, costing the same. I’m pretty sure men don’t take that long when buying themselves new underwear, and I’m even unsure if they actually buy the new underwear themselves… or if some lady in their life buys it for them. In addition, it doesn’t seem to be a product that men would spend a while evaluating products and weighing the pros and cons of each alternative. That being said, CSG has taken this into consideration by not charging extra for their sustainable underwear, which I think is extremely important. If they want to capture men’s attention, and actually stand a chance of being bought, they need to price their products the same as all the non-sustainable underwear, and make it look similar, so that men are almost placed in a position of saying, “Hey…why not?”.

CSG, while still a relatively young company, will have success in the sustainable products industry in my opinion, because the sustainable aspect of the product is simply an added bonus; people aren’t paying more for it, so there is no perceived trade off.