Why Brands Need to Give Back
21st June 2019
By Susie Ma
I’m sure we’re all familiar with the work of Sir David Attenborough, and can recall watching sea creatures fight against plastic pollution on the iconic Blue Planet II. It’s undeniable that environmental issues carry more weight than ever before; Sir David’s programmes are quite simply global emergencies disguised as nature documentaries. The whole world is talking about climate change, deforestation and the effect of animal agriculture on our planet. Reports predict that if no changes are made, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 [The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation, 2016], and children born today may be the last generation to see coral reefs in all their glory [David Obura, chair of the Coral Specialist Group in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature]. We can’t turn back time, but what we can do is use our positions as business leaders to give back to the planet. Here’s why I think you should do just that.
It can be all too easy to fall into playing the blame game when it comes to the health of our planet. Of course, politicians have their role to play, but the pollution and plastics released into the world aren’t from the politicians, they are from our businesses. I was shocked to discover that personal care and beauty products account for one-third of all landfill waste [Reuters], and felt it was my duty to supercharge the ways in which Tropic give back to our planet.
Tropic has always been a business with ethics at the heart of everything we do - from our freshly made products with 100% naturally derived ingredients, our empowering brand messages and cruelty-free certification - and last year I established Tropic’s infinite purpose, to help create a healthier, greener, more empowered world. It’s a declaration of my commitment to do more.
From a business perspective, our infinite purpose has helped to give a focus to everything we do. It’s more important than ever for our ethics to be clearly defined for our customers. While 50% of adults are willing to switch to a company that supports a cause they believe in [Cause Marketing - US, August 2018], 73% find it hard to identify how ethical a business is [Mintel].
Our infinite purpose has also helped to shape the products we release. Take our most recent makeup launch for example. The products are healthier, thanks to their natural, skin-friendly ingredients. They are greener, as our Colour Palette offers an innovative refillable design, helping our customers to reduce the waste generated by their makeup routines. They are empowering, as they offer a premium yet practical solution for busy women on-the-go, while helping to boost confidence.
As humans, we constantly take, but rarely consider giving back. When we cut down trees to make way for our livestock and crops, temperatures increase. A four degree (celsius) rise could kill 85% of the Amazonian rainforest, scientists warn [Met Office Hadley Centre, 2009]. To give back as a business, Tropic is a certified CarbonNeutral company; we’ve actually offset our emissions for the last two years by double, funding conservation work in the Amazonian rainforest and protecting 65,000 hectares of forest from unsustainable palm oil cultivation in Indonesia. Plus, we use exclusively FSC certified paper to ensure we only source paper stock sustainably. The Forest Stewardship Council ensure either stock is recycled or new trees are planted for every one taken down, and making the switch is a relatively simple change that is easy to implement.
It’s all too easy to ignore the environmental issues out there; after all, they largely effect only the poorest inhabitants of our planet. Certainly in Britain we remain sheltered, but it’s important to remember that we are all in this together. When we expand our businesses in England and ‘take away’ from the earth, those on the other side of the world are affected by climate change, tsunamis or reduced rainfall.
Knowing where to start can be the hardest part, and it can certainly feel like there’s a mountain to climb, but even small differences can make a huge collective impact. Can you aim to reduce single use plastics from your packaging? Can you educate your customers on how to recycle the boxes your products are shipped in? Perhaps you could introduce a cycle to work scheme for your employees. Get together with some other like-minded entrepreneurs, share knowledge and set collective goals.
Our journey to a healthier, greener, more empowered world is far from over. I’m the first to hold my hands up and admit that we are far from perfect as a business, but I believe in progression, not perfection. I can’t help but wonder: if we all felt it was important to give back, how much of a collective difference could we make?