Sustainability: Brands to watch, the circular economy and making better choices

I’ve always considered myself a mindful person when it comes to the environment. I’m diligent with my recycling, a charity shop and car boot advocate and I feed my plants on a diet of leftover water dregs. However, 2017 brought a slow-burning stream of awareness that’s made me reconsider the greater impact of my behaviour and how I can do more.

The final episode of Blue Planet II really brought home the devastating reality of what is happening in our oceans as a result of our irresponsible behaviour. David Attenborough’s rallying call ‘the future of all life now depends on us’ has never resonated more.

In the UK, we buy 35.8 million water bottles a day. 16 million of these end up in landfill and ultimately the sea. We throw away seven million coffee cups a day and next to none of these can be recycled.

It got me thinking not only about my personal responsibility to the environment, but also about how important it is that brands are making the effort to be more responsible and are leading by example.

A term that is increasingly gaining momentum is the circular economy. Not familiar? Me neither, until mark-maker Fran brought it to my attention and opened my eyes to a whole new universe of waste management and environmental change.

Championed by Dame Ellen MacArthur, the circular economy (CE) is a model that works on the basis of designing out waste and pollution by keeping resources in use for as long as possible, and extracting the maximum value from them until the end of their life.

Following her travels sailing across the world, Ellen’s eyes were opened to the detrimental effect of human activity on our natural resources, and how continuing in such a manner simply is not sustainable. Listen here to find out more about her insights and motivators for a circular economy, or visit the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to learn more about the work she is undertaking alongside major brands such as Nike, H&M, Unilever and Google.

Below are some favourite sustainability initiatives:

The frontrunners of sustainability

Bulk Market

Created from her own desire to ‘shop plastic-less’, founder Ingrid Caldironi saw an opportunity to influence a new era of grocery stores. Stocked with over 300 locally sourced, food and household goods, this zero-waste establishment operates on the basis of customers taking their own containers to the store, filling up and paying by weight for their purchases. Designed to embody all that the circular economy stands for by eradicating waste, I’m really excited to see how this new generation of shopping concept develops – I wish I had it on my doorstep!

“I always thought waste was a natural output of modern living, but it turns out to be poor design. Things aren’t designed in a circular economy mindset yet,” – Founder, Ingrid Caldironi

The Clean Kilo

A little closer to home, the Clean Kilo is a zero-waste supermarket coming to Birmingham soon, founded by a chemist who realised that the best way to reduce plastic is at source: by using as little as possible in the first place.

Slowing down fast fashion

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Taking small, simple steps to better manage their impact on the environment. The most immediately impactful being in-store recycling for textiles and beauty packaging. 10% voucher off for when you make the effort.

Adidas are working with Parley to keep plastic out of our oceans. One initiative was the launch of the ultra boost trainers made from recycled ocean plastic. They reused 11 plastic bottles per pair and featured laces, heel lining and sock lining made from other recycled materials.

Making better choices

Recently the Asian food chain announced their latest effort in their mission to be greener. They’ll no longer be handing out plastic straws with their drinks, and by Earth Day this year biodegradable paper straws will be handed out with fresh juices.

Market Place Pantry
It’s not just the big brands that are doing their bit for the environment. Lots of independent shops and cafés are big on sustainability. Market Place Pantry in Warwick have just announced they’ve switched to using biodegradable takeaway coffee cups.

It’s no mean feat to make the changes needed at the scale we need to, but it fills me with hope to see that the demand for sustainable, ethically-sourced behaviour from brands is having an impact. The conversation around sustainability is bigger and louder than ever before.

At mark-making*, sustainability is a key area of focus for us in 2018 and we would recommend to all our clients that you look to take steps to make your brand more eco-friendly, and shout about any initiatives you decide to undertake. But fundamentally the difference will be made by us all taking more responsibility for our own actions.

Personally, I pledge to do the following things:

  1. I will invest in a reusable coffee cup (and get into the habit of actually using it)
  2. Ditto water bottle
  3. I will say no to drinking straws and plastic bags
  4. I will cut down on plastics by embracing the plastic-free Tuesday initiative.

Small steps that will start to make the big difference. I hope I have inspired you to do the same.

Here are some great products to help get you started:
Eau Good water bottle
Bristle Bamboo toothbrush
French Style String Shopping Bag

Written by Emily Wright

About markmaking*

mark-making* is an award-winning creative agency specialising in branding, campaigns and communications