In an era of continuing coverage of climate disasters, when celebrities admonish each other for single-use plastics and Greta Thunberg admonishes world leaders on behalf of an entire generation, being able to speak to sustainability has become a necessary tool in every marketer’s kit.
But gone are the days of preaching to a crunchy choir of off-the-grid environmentalists with little purchasing power. “Gen Z has zero desire to go quietly,” says Jason De Turris, senior VP of marketing sciences at plant-based produce protection brand Apeel. “They're going to be very vocal. They’re going to vote with their wallets.”
And it’s not just young people who are paying attention to the carbon footprint of the products they buy. Marketers are people, too (it’s true!), and greening the supply chain and store shelves is becoming a personal imperative. “We're seeing really conventional brands saying, ‘We don't feel good about the amount of plastic waste we're putting in the world. We need to find other options," says Katie Klencheski, founder of Smakk Studios, a Brooklyn-based creative agency that works with mission-driven brands. “And they're saying it not just to be competitive, but because they feel icky. They don't like the idea that for years they've been making something that is washing up on beaches.”
Of course, some brands are better at this than others. Here are five that are doing it right.