Disruptions in Action: Maximize Resources
Our insights team highlights broad trends that point to a real chance for change. We feature examples of initiatives led by businesses, organizations and people, and shine the spotlight on inspiring businesses at the forefront of sustainability.
From startups to well-established brands, businesses are constantly finding new ways to reduce their footprint and maximize their use of existing resources. Not only is this good for the planet, it is also good for businesses.
Efficient use of existing materials keeps costs down. Re-use and recycling of materials helps reduce footprint and ensures a sound supply of materials in a resource-constrained world. Sustainable development is also good for reputation and engagement of all stakeholders.
Governments and people are waking up to the potential as well. Governments are encouraging sustainable development and people are self organizing to maximize their own use of products. Overall, there’s an increasing recognition that there’s wealth in waste.
One of the ways we can maximize resources is by developing circular economies, in which products and by-products are systematically re-used, recycled or re-manufactured. This approach can boost economic growth and job creation, and is supported by organizations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum (WEF), large businesses including Cisco and Kingfisher, and increasingly, governments.
People’s relationship with things have changed in recent years as a result of, among other things, the smart phone boom, the recession and concerns about the climate. It is now possible, acceptable and even practical for people to forgo ownership in exchange for access to other people’s things (through rentals, swaps or donations).
This exchange works for both sides – owners can monetize their idle assets and renters get access to goods at potentially lower rates. It’s good for the environment too, as renters can avoid the environmental footprint of owning their own separate products.
Upcycling: Enhancing the value of existing products
The upcycling movement acknowledges that some value is lost during recycling – for example, the energy, water, coloring or labor used in creating the product. The upcycling approach is to retain the current value of the product, and to enrich it to give it greater value.
This is a nascent concept – but given its potential to create great stories, it could become a popular one.
In 2015, Levi Strauss & Co. continued to reinforce its water stewardship through the release of our new Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) and the milestone announcement that we had saved more than 1 billion liters of water through Levi’s® Water<Less™ process and other water savings efforts.
The LCA announcement examined the environmental impact of LS&Co. products, probing into the environmental impacts of cotton in key growing regions, apparel production and distribution in a range of locations, and consumer washing and drying habits in key markets.
In conjunction with that announcement, we launched a consumer education campaign to help consumers understand the environmental impact of their washing habits.
By taking the “ Are You Ready to Come Clean? ” quiz, consumers were able to find out how much water and energy they used compared with average consumers in the U.S., the U.K., France and China. Between World Water Day and Earth Day, consumers were encouraged to take action and make a pledge to wash their jeans less often. More than 25,000 individuals took the quiz and pledged to wash their jeans less often.
This article is a part of MSLGROUP’s sustainability report A Chance for Change: The Tipping Point for Sustainable Business .
With a specialization in Advertising, Melanie has worked in the digital space with brands from the banking, healthcare, oil & energy, political and consumer sectors. She has also worked on media buying campaigns across print, radio, television and OOH. At MSLGROUP, she tracks inspiring digital initiatives for People’s Insights. Connect with her on twitter: @melanie_joe