Bringing Sustainability Home

Most of us are aware by now that we should consume more responsibly. Some brands are showing us how.

par Mark Tungate , Adforum

The season of dramatic over-consumption is approaching, even though we know that buying less is one of the best ways we can help the planet. So what can we do – practically and easily – to reduce our impact? A number of brands have come up with bright ideas.

As gifts go, a new television is unlikely to have the smallest impact on the environment, but Samsung in Argentina is trying to correct the balance a little, not least by suggesting ways we can “upcycle” the packaging into items for the home. (The TV remote is also environmentally friendly.)

“Upcycling” is definitely one of the words of the era. In Singapore last year, a locked-down artist was challenged to transform dull household waste like tin cans into objects of beauty. Interestingly, the client was the Singapore Tourist Board, no doubt keen to promote a sustainable city to future tourists.

These days, brands often seek a “purpose” beyond merely selling more units. The results can sometimes be unwieldy, with little obvious connection between the brand and its chosen cause. That’s not the case, however, with this campaign from Havas London for Vanish. The product is a stain remover for clothes. So what if looking after your clothes made you love them for longer, rather than throwing them out and contributing to fashion pollution? A relevant idea that increases the appeal of the brand.

Talking of fashion, here’s an event in Madrid that proposed another solution to the fashion problem: buying vintage items instead of new ones, thus giving clothes a second life. For the vintage clothing site Wallapop, a fashion designer went a step further and made new items by chopping and changing the second-hand clothing she’d bought online. When there’s a challenge, creativity is often the answer.

The fashion and automotive industries met for the next operation, from Hyundai and Spring Studios in the UK. Six eco-conscious fashion designers were asked to create luxurious items – jewellery, for example – from automotive waste like leather, glass and airbags. Not something we can easily do at home, but a reminder to consider alternate uses for unwanted products before throwing them away.

They’re called diapers in the United States and nappies in the UK. Whatever their name, they’re a big problem – rarely biodegradable and a huge source of pollution. As it’s hideous to think that our kids are having a negative impact practically from birth, it’s good to hear that Pampers is looking for solutions. This one from Saatchi & Saatchi Italy doesn’t sound easy: recycling used diapers and turning them into books.

When your little ones are out of nappies and beginning to explore the world, it’s perhaps a good idea to instil a bit of environmental awareness into them. Lego in Poland – with the help of Ogilvy Group – did this in a fun way by creating instruction books that showed young builders how to transform a Lego plane into a train (a far cleaner vehicle), or a car into an electric scooter. To save the planet, we may have to rebuild it.

When you’re shopping at the supermarket, how can you judge each item’s impact on the planet? After all, it’s not shown on the label. Well, it is in Sweden, where the Felix chain has pledged to do just that. To promote the initiative, Felix created a pop-up store where goods were marked up not with Swedish crowns, but with their “cost” in Co2 emissions, including production, preparation and transport.

Finally, a more humorous approach to acting sustainably at home. Ikea in Dubai, with its agency Ogilvy UAE, suggests families might need a little help – actually a rather large one – in order to make the right choices.