The Time is Now: How Digital Brands can be Sustainable Without Greenwashing

how digital brands can be sustainable without greenwashing

“Sustainability has long been viewed as somebody else’s problem,” explained Clarize of DCMN in introducing our latest SCALEup panel discussion, this time with a sustainable focus. Whether it’s the small companies looking at the big dogs, or the big dogs looking at the government, everyone has always looked away. “Why has something so vital to our existence been shrugged off?” she asked.

It’s high time this inaction came to an end. We are seeing definite signs things are beginning to shift, with consumers increasingly prioritising companies that embed sustainability in their DNA. Here at DCMN, we took to the streets last year with Fridays for Future, to show that climate action is our social responsibility – and can take place within work hours without making an impact on the quality of our service. That’s also why we decided to host our SCALEup roundtable discussion on sustainability this week, discussing what brands can do to ensure they are contributing as much as they can to a better future.

Did you miss it? Then get watching our live feed of our SCALEup discussion here:

Our panel was moderated by DCMN’s Isla McDougall and joined by Génica Schäfgen of Ecosia, Lara Schermer of PIABO PR and Jonathan Nash of Grover. We covered a number of sustainability topics, from the sustainable practices they follow in the workplace and at home, to the business models of the companies themselves. Greenwashing – and avoiding it in your communication – was also a topic on everybody’s minds.

The discussion was packed with valuable insights, but we ended by asking our speakers a pertinent question. How can businesses make themselves more sustainable? Before proceeding to a lively audience Q&A, our speakers each gave their top tip for businesses:

Génica: “Change your energy provider! Even if you think you are using renewable energy, most of the time you probably aren’t. Try Naturstrom or Greenpeace Energy. Then make your CSR person integral within the structure and DNA of your organisation, helping to make decisions everywhere – whether it’s in marketing or product development.”

Lara: “Everyone is involved in the change – and this does not require a top down or bottom up approach. Everyone can be part of this change, either as an employee or as an individual.”

Jonathan: “Don’t promise too much as an organisation! But address what’s possible and negate what’s not.”

Using data to make a sustainable change

Lubomila Jordanova of Plan A discusses their sustainable business model

Prior to the panel, we spoke to Lubomila Jordanova of Plan A. On our stage she explained how, having previously worked in finance, a chance incident led to her starting her career in sustainability.

The story goes: on holiday in Morocco in 2017, she arrived at a renowned beach and was shocked. Instead of finding a tranquil spot, it was covered in rubbish. This set her on a path to finding out everything she possibly could about climate change and sustainability – always using science as the foundation for her research. This compelled her to create Plan A, the first data-driven action platform in the fight against climate change.

What has she learnt about being sustainable? Here are Lubomila’s five findings:

Sustainability is a journey

“Take all the steps you can! Even if you can’t make yourself 100% sustainable immediately – which is impossible – communicate all the small steps you are taking,” said Lubomila.

Sustainability is successful if your team is involved

Plan A worked with Delivery Hero on their Hero Month initiative, where the company gave their employees the time to do activities for good. Together with members of Plan A, they went out for a morning collecting trash in Berlin’s famed – you may have seen the karaoke! – Mauerpark. All employees reshared this initiative, making it a resounding success.

Sustainability is successful if your community is involved

Plan A worked with TIER Mobility on an initiative with Decathlon. Sending 200 people on scooters to Treptower Park in Berlin, the initiative was a huge hit on social media. What did this prove? That sustainability can have clear financial and KPI-driven results.

Offsetting doesn’t cut it

Lubomila here noted a study that recently surveyed 17 million people. The results showed an increase of 120% in customer alignment towards brands that prioritise sustainability. And that encompasses a lot more than just offsetting.

No greenwashing!

Lubomila used the example of BP, who have announced recently they will be carbon-neutral by 2050, which saw a huge negative reaction on social media.

She ended with a one overarching message to the crowd – and it was a simple one. “Be you,” she said. “As long as it involves science.” Bravo on a great initiative, Lubomila!

Wanna go green or bring your sustainable product to market? Let’s chat!

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