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Changing sustainability: The call for a new integral approach

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

We spent the last couple of years inquiring about how to adapt to the new normal and how the post-pandemic life could be more eco-friendly but suddenly, like in a video game, we found ourselves on a completely new level, with a new context to abide and new rules to play by.

By Giuseppe Cavallo, Founder at Voxpopuli

History took a sharp turn in recent months and everything around us has changed.

With a war raging in Europe, sustainability risks fall off the attention spectrum of us all, nevertheless, it is ever more important that we keep a scrutinizing eye on every act, action, and word that puts further weight on the already burdened situation: climate change is a reality, it is a dangerous path that we are on and we are far from doing anything significant to revert it.

So the obvious thing to say now would be that brands should double down on sustainability. But wait…

Among the many things that have changed in the last year, there is also the very meaning of the S-word. All of a sudden, in the new level of this game called life we now are to address sustainability in at list three levels: self, society, and the planet. In a world where social media dictate the size of our waist and great power politics endanger the future of our children, we need a new vision that pursues harmony of the self with the community and the planet. The current spirit of division and confrontation is the opposite of that worldview, so we cannot look with confidence at the political philosophies, lest at politicians: they are caught in the rat race that is gaining and maintaining the support of their electorates in a time of shallow and sensationalist communications. Can brands play that positive role? Can they help pave the road to a world where the individuals live more fulfilling lives, in harmony with their peers, on a planet that is again happy to let them walk around?

A famous campaign by the American brand Always became viral on Youtube a few years ago. Young men and women as well as children of both genders were asked to perform trivial tasks like run or throw a stone and then do it again… like a girl. When the young men and women performed the task “like a girl”, they did it in awkward ways, showing weakness and lack of purposefulness. The male children, too, did the same, but young girls did not. They had not yet been re-programmed to lose confidence, which normally happens at the age of puberty. They were still free to be as strong as a girl! Always did not advertise any product in that campaign, it only affirmed the right of women to be fully developed members of our society. “Like a girl” should be saluted as a brand campaign that helps build a more sustainable world at the individual and societal levels. We want more of that.

“The Dam Truth” is the name of a campaign that the famous outdoor apparel brand Patagonia runs to oppose the building of dams in several locations in Europe. Those dams, says the brand, will destroy ecosystems and swipe away villages with their unique cultures. Controversial as it may be, The Dam Truth tells us that we need to put the survival of our communities and cultures before business.

“The Real Dream Team” is the call to action that Ingeteam is launching around the world in the form of a brand campaign. Ingeteam, a multinational active in the field of renewable energy, is asking their big-tech clients and us all to join them in the race for the energy transition. And they are taking the initial steps, developing innovations and the right internal culture for the race to be a success. The company is calling us all to take action, with an optimistic tone. We like that.

“When the going gets tough, the toughs get going”, says a famous song. We live in times that ask for resolution and strength of us. And those of us who work with brands have a responsibility to leave a mark so that in the years to come we can look back and say: it wasn’t obvious at the time, but we took the right decisions and reinvented the idea of sustainability as the basis for a better world and a better society.

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