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Beyond the Buzz; Companies Are Addressing Their Sustainability Impact And So Should You

 

sustainability

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword brands and organisations like to brandish about. There are very real companies out there making world-changing sustainability strategies. They’re driven by investors and consumers expectations for positive impact, accelerating the financial imperative for action. But if we turn our attention very quickly to digital media, words like ‘sustainability’, interestingly, have something called “media impact value.” Let’s unpack this.

What does Media Impact Value tell us?

Media impact value (MIV) is an algorithmic measurement used by data-analytics companies to quantify the reach and engagement of placements and mentions of words like ‘sustainability’. This happens across social media predominantly, but also digital and print platforms. 

sustainability

(Photo from launchmetrics.com)

Social media is a mirror to help us understand what the new generation looks like and what customers are looking for. The heightened relevance of MIV as a media metric coincides with Millenial and Gen Z generations coming to the forefront as social media users. These generations make up the largest percentage of social media users, they have the largest audiences, they have the largest influence, and they’re increasingly coming into their spending power. So as a brand or organisation, if you intend to convert this demographic in the future it’s time to heed the call.

A Climate Crisis

It’s possible, like so many of us who spend time online or watch the nightly news, you’ve caught wind of an international call to arms, declaring the next 10 years as being absolutely critical in addressing environmental disasters and global climate change. Jacinda Arden, the New Zealand Prime Minister, just last week reiterated these statements by declaring a climate emergency. Leaders like Ms Arden are enacting policy to reduce emissions and implement climate-saving initiatives. But with just 10 years to turn it all around, the emphasis is also on business response to the new reality of a changed climate.

With increased interest from customers and investors in avenues such as sustainability, biodiversity, zero-net carbon, circular economy and end-of-life product, a lot of this conversation is happening online. And we already know who has the say there (Jacinda is avidly followed on social media, oft called her a political influencer). Millennials and Gen Z hold different values, influenced by trailblazers and activists who committed to doing better. They want to be inspired by companies, feel a part of a community, they want to share in the authentic messages for change coming from businesses and brands and they want to see leaders in their field take the step toward a better future.

Big business commitments

In 2019, the brand that drew the greatest MIV for sustainability, according to data-analytics company Launchmetrics, was Adidas (US$13 million).

Adidas, as a sustainable brand, was brought to our attention by one of our interns, Ray. He was intrigued by their footwear manufacturing, among a whole host of other sustainable initiatives they have innovated since the early 2000’s. Ray says, “As a Gen z who grows in news about non recyclable material it hurts our earth. I always think about trying to protect our earth in order to protect ourselves and our future.”

The sustainable footwear for which Adidas has been most lauded is FUTURECRAFT.LOOP, a circular system that allows for a completely recyclable pair of shoes. With the shoes made entirely of one material, the shoes can be reground into the same base material, endlessly becoming a new pair of shoes. 

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Futurecraft Loop shoes, demonstrating the breakdown capabilities (Photo from highsnobiety.com)

Using recycled materials to make garments isn’t new news for Adidas either. Since 2015, Adidas has been in a partnership with Parley, an organisation that addresses environmental and plastic pollution threats towards the oceans. In collaboration with Parley, Adidas were able to manufacture a shoe made from reclaimed (and illegal) marine plastic waste. The company also phased out single-use plastics and microbeads from its product line, altogether ensuring a better future for our oceans and planet. 

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Ultra Boost With Parley (Photo from Parley.TV)

The biggest cost of goods in apparel is material. So if Adidas can turn billions of recycled items into material for new clothing, this will both divert waste and save landfill, as well as saving a lot of money throughout the supply chain. Adidas has also pledged for 100% of all plastic in products to be recycled, and they have introduced two new performance fabric technologies created from 100% recycled polyester. 

With their circularity commitments, material innovations and plastic waste eliminations, Adidas is on it’s way to achieving full climate neutrality by the year 2050.

Why is sustainability trending?

According to the ThredUp 2020 Resale report, the Secondhand market will hit US$64B in 2024. This is a growth of more than 500%. Second-hand trading websites are growing more than ever before. Depop, Poshmark, Mercari, ThredUp and Etsy are just a few. Sustainability shopping has become a priority for Millenial and Gen Z generations, and they are more switched on than ever, and more than any other generation, toward the health of our planet. According to the Resale report, “with their words, deeds, and dollars, the younger generation is demonstrating a genuine desire to be part of the long-term solution to fashion waste. This should inspire much optimism in all of us. The consciousness of the next generation of consumers is a tailwind for businesses that deliver customer value in a sustainable way.”

Businesses and industries, like fashion, that exert a strain on planetary resources, that are not offsetting their environmental and social impacts with sustainable solutions, should consider themselves put on notice. 

We know that the next generation of sustainability strategies need to be designed and implemented to save the world. And we know that the emerging generation of leaders cares hugely about these causes, enough to influence behaviour and build advocacy for organisations that are accelerating their positive impact, quantified by MIV. 

Adidas has really showcased how practical and innovative solutions can address global problems. Reports have shown that new-gen leaders want a better future. Governments are taking the symbolic step in declaring a climate emergency and increasing pressure for action to combat global warming. Some are committing to firm timetables toward zero net emissions. And if business great and small start today, we might just make it on time.

Also read: Why A Fair, Resilient And Regenerative Future Is Purpose-Driven

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