My take on Sustainability

As this term comes to a close, Kate (our prof) asked our class to write a post about how sustainable marketing change how we view the world. Here’s my personal take on it.

Taking this class has opened my eyes on how sustainable practices are used by companies nowadays. Not just the whole use of recyclable materials or less plastic, but the whole aspect of sustainable practices being applied to the whole value chain of the company. It also gave me a viewpoint on how some companies are really genuine and passionate about implementing sustainable practices to help our society while some are just greenwashing to make us consumers believe they are concerned about the environment. With sustainability being a buzz word among businesses today, companies have to quickly determine if they are going to take their stand and do it wholeheartedly or they would just go with the flow and not put too much thought on it.

As a student/consumer, taking this course made me appreciate the sustainability side of marketing. It’s something that I have not really put that much thought into and I’m glad taking this course has made me do that. I’m also more interested to discover the sustainable initiatives and practices that are being done by companies. There is a quite a lot of them and I want to explore them more hence the reason why I will still continue on with this blog to feature sustainable companies. Last but not the least, I admire companies and people who are so passionate about sustainability. I went to Me Inc Conference this year and I attended the sustainability panel workshop. I enjoyed hearing the speakers (from Fortis BC, MEC, New World Natural Foods and VCC) take on sustainability and how they are still working hard in sending the message out to our society today. I was really inspired from the panel and I look forward to including sustainability in my personal and work life.



Comments on Classmates’ Blog Posts on Sustainability

1st Comment on Sabrina’s post on Environmental Impact of Cellphones

I like how infographics are made to summarize the key effects of electronics and e-waste to our environment. It definitely makes it easier to understand at least in my case. I was reading this article: and it perfectly relates to your blog post. In this article, it introduces the ecoATM where you can put your old phone in the slot, get an estimated price for it and cash out for store credit or money. I find this product/service innovative and different. It makes people curious and want to try the machine out. Hopefully, this machine will make its way to Canada!

2nd Comment on Keeptheeco’s post on How far are you willing to?

I think the two points that you mentioned in regards to adidas being in the list of Top 100 sustainable corporations are just a small part of the company’s sustainable initiative. adidas has an overall strategy of reducing its environmental impact 15% by 2015 in all of its areas such as value chain and product creation, among others through a project called Green Company ( It is an environmental programme that runs in their offices, warehouses, distribution centres and production sites around the world. Several of their buildings are also ISO 14001 certified. The ISO 14001 certification is a framework that assists organizations in developing their own environmental management system and adidas has already aimed in applying this framework to their global locations such as their main headquarters at Herzogenaurach, Germany, adidas North America in Portland and distribution centres in Spartanburg and Indianapolis, US. This effort in reducing their carbon emission, waste and pollution is not something I would consider as greenwashing, as Marco mentioned above. As concerned consumers, we should all take the time to read a company’s sustainable initiatives and programs before we judge them. Here’s adidas Group’s blog that talks about their current sustainable initiatives:

3rd comment on agreennation’s post on Kenya and its ecotourism

Wow, I definitely want to visit Kenya and experience all it has to offer especially the natural wildlife. Since I love traveling, I read travel blogs and I have noticed that eco-tourism is becoming more popular in the tourism and hospitality industry. Especially when it comes to sites that are so old and have to be preserved such as Pompeii, Italy, as tourists, we have to become more aware of how we explore certain parts of the world. Some sustainable practices include making sure we throw our garbage in the bins, we do not destroy the environment and cause as minimal environmental impact as possible. This can prevent the place from being extinct and let it still be accessible to tourists like us.

Heineken – Beer, Sustainability & Creative Crowdsourcing

I was browsing through my Twitter feed yesterday and saw Kate’s (@white_k8) tweet about Heineken holding a crowdsourcing idea contest for its sustainable packaging. As we mentioned in class, more companies are finding ways to make their packaging sustainable including the way products are transported to retailers and customers. Some examples are HP’s laptop packaging, Cargo Cosmetics’ innovative lipstick packaging and of course, LUSH’s Naked bath bombs packaging. All of these companies took on the sustainability challenge given by our society and they all succeeded.

Back to the Heineken Beer Sustainable Packaging, the company is crowdsourcing ideas and innovations for the future of its beer packaging in three different ways: re-using or recycling a larger amount of its beer packaging, discovering new packaging materials and maximizing transportation efficiency in relation to the packaging itself. The contest is open to selected countries and states around the world due to local legislation and restrictions, however, people who are not allowed to compete are still encouraged to share and vote for the most innovative and inspiring ideas.

There are two stages in this challenge. The first stage called the Enrolment encourages people to create a profile and submit unlimited amount of ideas. Participants will be judged based on innovativeness and the number of votes the idea receives from the audience. The top 100 participants will enter the next stage of the challenge called Idea Enrichment stage. In this stage, the selected participants will be invited to work with Heineken experts “in a collaborative, closed online innovation environment to upgrade the selected ideas”. This stage will be judged by an official jury of external experts and Heineken innovation directors and one overall winner will be selected. The winner will receive $10,000 and will ultimately be part of Heineken’s history. This way of crowdsourcing ideas reminded me of the research paper Professor Darren Dahl did, which he explained in my Creativity class this term. His research paper focused on the effects of social recognition and monetary reward on creativity. His research results showed that when people were told to focus on the creative process (For example, in Heineken’s case: “Since we do not want to limit creativity, you can submit as many ideas as you like.”), people given monetary reward had the most original ideas compared to those given social recognition reward or no rewards at all. The reason behind this is that people who are given monetary reward engaged in more narrow search and more risk taking ideas that were further away from the most conventional idea. So in Heineken’s crowdsourcing ideas for its sustainable packaging, there is a high possibility that they are going to get a high number of innovative and creative ideas as the monetary reward of $10,000 is there and up for grabs. So what are you waiting for? Put on your creative cap and help Heineken with its sustainable initiative!

Vancouver Eco Fashion Week – Fashion & Sustainability

For our sustainable marketing plan project, my group and I picked on a sustainable service of cloth swapping to combat the perceived obsolescence faced by consumers in the fashion industry. Another sustainable initiative being applied to the fashion industry is the Vancouver Eco Fashion Week coming up this April. Season 4 of the Eco Fashion Week is taking place from April 10 to April 12 at Robson Square and its itinerary includes runway shows and seminars from key personalities in the sustainable fashion industry.

Eco Fashion Week (EFW) was founded in October 5, 2009 and is a non-profit organization dedicated to stimulate growth and sustainable practices in the fashion/clothing industry.

EFW Mission

EFW wants to position Vancouver as the International Capital of Eco Fashion, as Paris is to Haute-Couture.

EFW focuses solely on environmentally friendly designers and practices. A growing shift in the fashion industry to include the well being of the environment into its practices is something Myriam (EFW founder) has noticed.  Also, Vancouver has become widely known as a haven for independent designers who are committed to using recycled, organically grown, and locally produced fashion. With EFW in place, Myriam and her team want to encourage the growth of eco-conscious fashion and accelerate the industry’s renaissance into the environmental age. Several designers EFW is working with this season include: Adhesif, Indigenous, Prophetik, etc. and several companies EFW is working with include: Value Village, debrand and Canadian Textile Recovery Effort.
If you’re free time from April 10-12, make sure to check this out!

World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour – Energy & Sustainability

As I was browsing through my Twitter feed last week, I came across my friend’s blog post about a challenge issued by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada to Vancouver musicians to help create the Earth Hour 2012 anthem.

What is Earth Hour 2012?

Earth Hour 2012

Earth Hour encourages everyone in the world to switch off their lights for an hour (from 8:30pm-9:30pm on March 31st) to join the movement of fighting climate change. Climate change’s main cause is the fossil fuels that our world has used to generate electricity, heat and fuel for transportation. Greenhouse gases emissions, such as carbon dioxide, are released to our atmosphere when we burn materials like coal and oil. These gas emissions trap heat, which leads to a rapid increase of temperature that countries all over the world experience from.

So what can we do as global citizens?

We should use less energy, be more efficient with what we use and switch to low emission renewable resources such as solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy. What better way to start and contribute to this cause by participating in Earth Hour and join 1.8 billion people across the global in saving energy by switching off our lights. In British Columbia alone, we saved around 117 megawatt hours and reduced our energy input by 1.8% last year.

There are other ways to participate Earth Hour 2012 before the big day:

  • Pledge to join Team Earth Hour and get more information about Earth Hour and receive 5 Air Miles Reward Miles by being the first 100,000 Canadians to pledge.
  • Download posters and other materials from WWF website to spread the word about Earth Hour within the community.
  • Take a look at WWF’s Team Earth Hour Playbooks to check out creative ways to save energy all year around and things to do on Earth Hour.

Last but not the least, the most interactive and exciting way to take part is to contribute to the Earth Hour 2012 Anthem! By submitting a line or two on WWF’s Facebook page, one can have the chance to have their lines be a part of the official Earth Hour Anthem and have the chance to win an electric scooter. This is WWF’s way of crowdsourcing for their Earth Hour song and it’s a fun way to engage people, both young and old, from all over Canada. There are 820 lyrics in total, which is a great response so far!

On a side note, Earth Hour is on the same day as Sauder’s Grad Night. I wonder if the hotel and the organizers would turn off the lights for an hour to participate in Earth Hour. Imagine, just candles lighting up the whole ballroom. Now, that will be an event that I definitely won’t forget.

Mercedes-Benz’s Invisible Car – Automobile & Sustainability

German automobile company, Mercedes-Benz launched a creative advertising campaign a week ago to promote their hydrogen-powered cars. The Mercedes-Benz B-Class F-Cell vehicle can travel up to 250 miles and uses an electric engine equal to 134 horsepower. Fuel cell vehicles are zero emission vehicles that run on electricity from hydrogen and oxygen In the advertising campaign, the vehicle is covered in LEDs on the driver side and an SLR camera on the opposite side. The camera shoots video on the passenger side and the video is showed in real time on the driver side. The car is driven throughout Germany and it definitely caught some attention on the streets with people stopping and staring at the car. At the same time, the message, “Invisible to the environment. F-CELL with 0.0 emissions.” is also projected on the LED screen from time to time.

Check out the video here: Mercedes-Benz’s Invisible Car

On top of the most recent advertising campaign video, the car company had other campaigns to promote their hydrogen-fuelled cars. One of them was the F-Cell World Drive which started on January 29, 2011 in Stuggart, Germany. For 125 days, three Mercedes-Benz B-class fuel cell vehicles were driven all over the world from Canada to Australia, with the final stop being back in Stuggart, to promote the advantages of having a hydrogen-fuelled cell car. The people involved in this campaign kept a blog on Posterous to share their adventure and the stories of people they met along the way. They also had an interactive map of the tour that can be accessed on their Facebook account. Using social media tools to engage with its audience was a great way to promote Mercedes-Benz hydrogen-fuelled cars.

Despite all the advertising campaigns done by the company, consumer perception and adaptation have to be factored in. As mentioned in class, people do not perceive Mercedes-Benz as a sustainable company due to the amount of gas that its vehicles need. Also, the need to build hydrogen refueling station with the right equipment might be an obstacle in the future when hydrogen powered cars become more popular.


Cartems Donuterie – Food & Sustainability

Last class, our discussion revolved around product strategy and different product considerations for sustainability used by companies around the world. One consideration that struck me the most is buying local. Buying local food is well encouraged in our society today. In one of my classes, a student mentioned that his parents live in a rural area where their produce is delivered to their door everyday. But, how is that different to a big urban city like Vancouver? It is definitely harder for us to get local produce especially when we have to get them from different parts of the Lower Mainland, for example, blueberries from Richmond, milk from Burnaby. On the flip side, we still have to look at the brighter side of things and search for people who actually make it happen – people who buy local produce. During my Creativity class, my professor mentioned that one of his past students started a donut store recently in Gastown and is already making 750 donuts a day. It made me wonder what is so special about this donut place that is causing such a commotion in the Twitterverse! Let me introduce you to Cartems Donuterie.

Cartems Donuterie is not your traditional donut store. Its donuts flavours are so fun and creative. For example, the donut called Earl Grey is a donut infused with organic earl grey tea with earl grey glaze and mallow flowers, which are the purple flowers in earl grey tea. They also have a Bacon Bourbon donut. That flavour definitely sounds interesting!

Different donut flavours of Cartems Donuterie

So what make Cartems different from other donut stores? All of its donuts are freshly made each day and they are a healthy alternative to the traditional fried donuts. Besides their donuts being fried in organic coconut oil, they also offer vegan, gluten-free and baked donuts. Most importantly, its ingredients are sourced locally. Below is a snippet of where they get their ingredients from:

Flour comes from Anita’s Organic Mill (Chilliwack), our eggs are from Rabbit River Farms (Richmond), butter comes from Golden Ears Farms (Maple Ridge), our milk is from Avalon Dairy (Burnaby) , and our spices come from Gathering Place Trading Company on Cortes Island.

Cartems Donuterie is an example of a business that puts a creative twist to a regular donut store by going local with its ingredients. With this stand-out “ingredient” in their business model, the business has positioned itself as a sustainable company in Vancouver. Now is the time for me to try these famous donuts! Omnomnomnom.