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.
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.
UNILEVER SUSTAINABLE LIVING PLAN:
- 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.
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.
UNILEVER’S MOTIVATION TO ADOPT 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.
PROBLEM #1 – REDUCE GHGs
95% of carbon emissions associated with its shampoos, soaps and shower gels, come from people using hot water to enjoy them – particularly the shower
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.