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  • Nick Pye

Not all sustainability actions are born equal

When you’ve done something good there’s a natural temptation to tell the world about it. Whether you succumb to that urge depends on how much you need the recognition and whether you give a second thought to how interested others will be.

And it seems from our recent experience the same applies to a brand or business’s sustainability-driven activities.

‘Hey, we’ve switched all our lightbulbs to LED, put a turbine on the roof and now all the crap from our factories gets taken away to get reused. I’m gonna brief marketing.’

In reality, not all sustainability activities are born equal; some make a big contribution to your targets, others don’t. Some things you do are interesting to the outside world, others they couldn’t care less about or think you’re doing it already.

The reality is that a lot of stuff you need to do to hit your sustainability goals has zero interest for normal people, but you just need to get on and do it – and if you can find an interesting story to tell people about this stuff then consider it a bonus. In contrast, there’s probably stuff that makes little real impact on your targets or the planet but makes for a great brand-led story that helps to engage a new audience or get people to see you in a different light. These are well worth the investment because they help establish your sustainability narrative & credentials in the minds of customers. And of course, the few things that make both an impact and engage an external audience should be your priorities and what you become famous for.

When resources for sustainability initiatives are under pressure and you require more focus, you need to know which are your ‘Heroes’ & ‘Captivators’ so you can shout about them, whilst you execute the ‘Imperatives’ at scale, and question whether the ‘Distractors’ are really about sustainability after all.

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