We're all guilty of it: buying those extra shoes we don't need, snapping up another gadget to add to the collection. Overconsumption is responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 80% of biodiversity loss.
Our ability to thrive on earth is suffering from our consumeristic tendencies, and marketing plays a significant role in this.
If we're going to protect life on earth, we need to design a vision of a sustainable future and inspire people to embrace this new way of life.
The Green Marketing Manual
Green marketing goes beyond just selling better products. It's about embodying a business philosophy that merges economic prosperity with environmental responsibility and societal benefits.
Which is why, by thinking differently, it's easy to see how marketing can solve pressing environmental problems, instead of making them worse.
Here are FIVE ways you can give your marketing strategy a low-carbon refresh today...
Clean Up Your Digital Act
Research by investment analysis group Ebiquity and emissions measurement firm Scope3 has highlighted the environmental cost of waste in digital advertising supply chains.
After analysing $US375 million in digital ad spend across 43 brands, they found that 15.3% of the expenditure was squandered on non-value-generating inventory, contributing significantly to CO2 emissions.
Natalie Welch, co-founder of the Typeface Group, reminds us to understand the carbon impact of our digital actions. "When you consider that sending an email with a photo or an attachment generates about 50 grams of carbon, think about alternative ways to use that carbon for a greater impact," she says.
Go Old School with Sustainable Print
Despite the rise of digital marketing, print marketing has the potential to generate a better ROI for your profit and the planet.
For example, a 2018 study by the Direct Marketing Association found that direct mail has a response rate of 4.4%, compared to email's response rate of just 0.12%. The US Postal Service found that people spend more time looking at physical ads than they do at digital ads.
This suggests that print marketing can capture consumers' attention for longer and can be more effective in conveying a message. Add a QR Code to your landing page and off you go!
With the paper industry making commendable strides in sustainability, consider integrating sustainable print marketing into your strategy.
Make Sustainability Easy
Strive to make sustainable living an effortless option for your customers through transparency and third-party accreditations.
When you genuinely prioritise sustainability, the people who buy from you automatically lead a more sustainable lifestyle by choosing your services or products.
Antoine Rondelet, Founder of Bluteshi and Ganddee Maps offers a sensible word of warning: "Ignoring clear trends in ESG and the growing consumer demand for sustainable goods is nonsensical from a risk perspective. If you're in the business of making money, why not tap into this burgeoning market authentically instead of dismissing the science?"
Shout Loud About 'Mindful' Consumption
Avoid using marketing techniques that create a sense of urgency or scarcity to spur impulse buys. Instead, focus on the true value and benefits of your products, and respect your customers' ability to make their own decisions.
You can use your marketing messaging to encourage customers to think about their purchases. For example, share tips on how to make better buying decisions, how to take care of products to extend their lifespan, or how to recycle or dispose of them responsibly.
Aja Barber, a writer, stylist and consultant whose work deals with the intersections of sustainability and the fashion landscape, reminds us "The consumer voice does have power. Change can come from consumer outrage."
Embrace Being 'Perfectly Imperfect'
Running a business calls for multitasking, innovative thinking, and tackling blind spots. Openness and teamwork can aid in surmounting these challenges.
"There's a unique power in admitting we don't know everything. People are eager to lend a hand, share their insights, and often just need an invitation," says Isabella Desmarais, co-f0under of Kind Community. She points to fashion brand Ganni as a case in point.
Rather than masking their sustainability issues like the gender pay gap and material sourcing, Ganni openly addressed them and enlisted industry partners to help improve.
Isabella encourages embracing a continuous learning mindset and the concept of 'imperfect progress.' "Sustainability is a journey, not a final stop," she notes. Understanding generational differences and being open to learning from each other is crucial.
Your Business Can't Cost the Earth
It's time to think differently, consume wisely and do what we can to turn the tide on the environmental crisis.
Use your creativity, communities and old school marketing tricks to encourage the behaviour shift we need to ensure life continues on the Blue Planet.