Sustainable Brands London 2012 Day 1

Sustainable Brands events are designed to educate and engage those in the sustainability, brand and design communities. For the first time in London, major brands, smaller companies, startups & thought-leaders converged over two days (27-28 Nov) to share ideas on sustainable innovation. Here’s just a snippet of the dialogue on Day 1, featuring fabulous projects to get us inspired.

Paul Gilding
Global Thought Leader on the Future of Economics

Former director of Greenpeace International, Paul Gilding says we’re facing a crisis and we choose where we go from here. Denial, avoidance and delay are powerful and natural human responses, but when we do respond we do extraordinary things. Now is an opportunity for brands and businesses to rise to a new level. We need to rethink every product we’re producing, because we can do a lot better.

Joseph Staton, GfK Group
Director & General Manager, Consumer Trends

GfK have a perspective on consumers globally and are more interested in what people do, rather than what they say. To avoid consumers becoming jaded with the sustainability message they believe brands must understand their motivations and give people a social outlet for being green. His hero brand is H&M. Their genius is in presenting sustainable fashion like a magazine, with the values of Vogue – it’s not about guilt.

Gown: Chantilly organic cotton/silk gown with organza crease plissé meringue skirt. Photographer: Kacper Kasprzyk, Photo courtesy of H&M.

Raphael Bemporad, BBMG
Founding Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

Raphael says consumers are looking for brands that can improve their own lives while creating a more sustainable economy that benefits all. While there’s strong interest in buying more sustainable products, price, performance and scepticism about product claims remain the top barriers.

A new study, The Regeneration Roadmap developed by BBMGGlobeScan and SustainAbility, finds that people think we need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations, but that shopping for new things makes them happy. Two thirds of consumers globally want to share their ideas, opinions and experiences with companies to help them develop better products and solutions.

David North, Sustainable Consumption Institute, University Of Manchester 
Executive Director

David believes that when brands are faced with a problem that has no obvious answer, or they’re not able to solve it alone, the temptation is to go for the tried and trusted. We need to get comfortable about not having solutions and then think what groups can help and how to get together. Brands must make links with governments, NGOs and third parties.

Benita Matofska, The People Who Share
Chief Sharer

We’re a growing population and have finite resources. We’re going to have to share to survive. Benita Matoska is the founder of The People Who Share and thinks we have unlimited sharing potential. Take a look at what they’re about in the video below.

We should be asking how we can build businesses around the concept of sharing, by incorporating it into business models. She wants brands to get creative with their marketing, such as ‘buy one, share one – and let’s share spaces on our highstreets!’

John Grant

Celebrated author John Grant challenges the notion that life is short…and it’s not a small world, it’s a vast and a politically and socially diverse world. John has travelled extensively and is inspired by what he’s seen. He highlighted several global projects that are having profound effects.

Ekos Buriti is a massively successful skincare company that asked the indigenous people of Brazil to lead the brand. It harvests its botanicals in the forests, which is difficult, but it provides the workers with $30 per tree, more than they’d get for chopping it down. This brand has built a great business model.

WWF is collaborating with farmers in China, working with nature to define future technology using ‘Integrated Fish Farming’. See this fabulous system explained in the video below.

The Barefoot Colleges in India are educating women in trades such as solar engineering. Grandmothers will stay in the villages, whereas young men leave, taking the skills with them.

Amanda Long, East Anglia Cooperative Society
Executive Director

The Co-operative Society is about the ‘power of we’. A recent project called ’Reducing The Strength’ worked in collaboration with the local community to reduce antisocial behaviour related to alcohol. All super strength products were removed from their shelves, even though it could mean reduced profits for the brand.

Mark Walker, Zipcar UK
General Manager

Zipcar want more car sharers than car owners. The car as we know it isn’t fit for purpose in emerging cities. Zipcar provide a super convenient, flexible service, which encourages customers to use public transport more, cycle and walk more, reducing their CO2 by around 70%. The video below shows how Zipcar for Business works.

The market for car sharing will get bigger, as the traditional car manufacturers join in, but Mark’s not sure it’s the right thing and anticipates in future having to talk to Mayors and transport depots about parking congestion and harmful gases, to see what’s best for the city.

Gail Klintworth, Unilever
Chief Sustainability Officer

Unilever is one of the main sponsors of Sustainable Brands Europe. Gail Klintworth, their chief sustainability officer, says we’re now starting to talk about solutions and we must reach millions of people. Unilever want to make sustainable living mainstream. This is a business driven mission as well as a moral one.

It’s about behaviour change – it’s about how we all use washing powder or, for instance, how we encourage people in developing countries to wash their hands and save 1.5 billion people dying from hygiene related diseases. Unilever is working with governments, health agencies and non-profit groups to promote the importance and practice of handwashing with soap at the right times during the day. Global Handwashing Day is one of the ways in which they are helping to raise the profile of the issue around the world. See the video below.

Businesses have got to channel enthusiasm into the things that will make a difference to the company.  And there’s hidden potential in the voices of women, they’re the traditional networkers of communities – and youth too, “they want to solve these things….they really do!”

More, from Sustainable Brands Day 2, coming soon.