I came across a hackathon run by Unilever where they are looking for new ideas combining Ecommerce and Sustainability, both topics very dear to my heart.

Actually, Organic Lifestyle and Unilever share a similar mission, we’re just working on scaling 🙂

Started reading more about Unilever and I had no idea that Unilever has made a big commitments starting in 2010 and ALREADY made great strides into adopting sustainability as part of their core.



  • To help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being
  • To halve the environmental footprint of the making and use of our products as we grow our business
  • To enhance the livelihoods of millions of people as we grow our business

Link to Unilever’s Sustainability report

From a positive people impact perspective, here is just one of their Ads they created to help with self-esteem / body myths (Dove):


and encouraging hand washing to improve mortality rates in vulnerable areas of India:

Actually, maybe its the Kool-Aid but I feel these Ads are effective at getting the message out and hope that Unilever has seen a boost in sales as a result.

[ Update: Since the original posting, I had a chance to briefly discuss these campaigns with a Unilever executive – they mentioned that as long as the campaign had an effective ‘on-the-ground’ campaign in place, they were likely to see a boost in sales that they could attribute to the video campaign.

eg., With the Dove beauty campaign, it was a Brand awareness campaign – there wasn’t a direct tie-in with product.

Whereas with the Lifebouy campaign, Unilever had people on-the-ground to explain the merits of washing hands with a bar of their Lifebouy soap (these educators gained the nickname and referred to as ‘Life-savers’:) ]

From a planet friendly perspective, their Lipton tea brand for instance, is said to employ only sustainable agriculture & fair wages.

There are many more examples on their site.



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Without nit picking on whether Unilever is green washing or not, I think it’s important to recognize that in my personal opinion, Unilever seems to be making a genuine effort.

Furthermore, as a Multi-nationals, Unilever claims to impact  2 billion people who use one of their products on any given day and annual turnover of $46 Billion – thus, they can have a serious impact and further the adoption of sustainability.

Hence, organize a Hackathon to seek help to increase Ecommerce sales of their brands while not compromising sustainability.


Adopting sustainability initially implies increased costs / investments but in the long run, it results in less energy / waste  use / cost savings / less staff turnover.

Unilever would be in a good position to leverage their scale, like Walmart does, to encourage their suppliers and partners, to adopt standards that work towards sustainability.


95% of carbon emissions associated with its shampoos, soaps and shower gels, come from people using hot water to enjoy them – particularly the shower


Unilever's greenhouse breakdown

Fascinating problem.

Stay tuned for Part 2 to see how Unilever addresses their shower related GHGs.

Till then, this was a great read and nicely put things in perspective: How to Take Long Showers and Still Save the World From Drought.