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How brands are evolving in the area of sustainability marketing and communications — and how their stakeholders are asserting their own needs and preferences.

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Coca-Cola Gamifies Recycling in Bangladesh with 'Happiness Arcade'

“What happens when no one is concerned about recycling?” That’s what Coca-Cola asks in a YouTube video detailing its recent effort to engage youth in the Bangladeshi city of Dhaka on the importance of recycling. Coke’s latest campaign in the country involved an arcade machine, which runs on empty plastic Coke bottles instead of coins. Coke says the machine, called the “Happiness Arcade,” is meant to engage youth in the importance of recycling by making it fun. According to Coke’s blog, the machines accept empty plastic bottles through a customized slot and reward the user with a Coke-themed video game reminiscent of “Pong.”

Shareholders Again Ask Abbott Labs to Label GM Ingredients in Baby Formula

Shareholders at Abbott Laboratories’ annual meeting last week sent a message to management and the Board of Directors — for the second year in a row — that they are concerned about the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the company’s Similac infant formula. The shareholder resolution, filed by environmental health advocacy organization As You Sow, was supported by 6.7 percent of shareholders, representing over $2.2 billion in shares.

Effie Worldwide, WEF Unveil Award to Recognize Sustainability-Focused Brands

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and Effie Worldwide, which rewards effectiveness in marketing communications, have announced a new award aimed at incentivizing marketers to put more emphasis on sustainability in their work, and “recognize and celebrate” the companies who are already committed to driving and promoting positive environmental impact.The Positive Change Effie Award will recognize and celebrate the most effective marketing programs that have measurably shifted consumer behavior toward more sustainable choices, and/or grown demand for more sustainable products and services by incorporating sustainability as a part of their marketing communications.

Showtime's 'Years of Living Dangerously' Combines Climate Change Science with Drama

The gripping new Showtime docu-series Years of Living Dangerously tackles climate change with a combination of Hollywood star power, heavyweight scientists and frontline reporting. Sending big name such as Harrison Ford, Thomas Friedman, Lesley Stahl and Jessica Alba into the field as correspondents to document the human impact of climate change, the series conveys the issue’s urgency with drama and facts. The nine episodes cover topics such as Hurricane Sandy, rising sea levels, upheaval from the droughts in Syria and Texas, deforestation and palm oil in Indonesia, religious beliefs, and renewable energy.

How Brands Can Connect with Consumers — Through 'Storydoing'

We all have a personal metastory, a story that we build through every action we take, every choice that we act on, and every purchase we make. It is the story that emerges in the minds of others as they see us and our choices. This is true for people and for brands.In True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business, author and former ad man Ty Montague argues that consumers use the story of brands to tell part of their own metastories. His advice to brands: “People don’t buy products; they take actions that help advance their own personal metastory, and sometimes buying and using your product is one of those actions.”

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The FTC's New Green Guides in Practice: A Real-Life, Detailed Case Study

gDiapers is a Portland, Oregon-based diaper company offering mums and dads a diaper insert that is flushable, home-compostable and plastic-free. My wife and I moved from Sydney, Australia to Portland, Oregon in 2004 to launch the company. As new parents ourselves at that time, we felt strongly that there had to be a better way than the current choice of diapers. gDiapers prides itself on open communications with all our stakeholders and especially our customers and loyal gMums and gDads. We have always been transparent about how we run the company, how we treat our employees, the product and how we support our product claims.

Creativity Is One of the UK's Greatest Assets — Let's Turn Its Attention Towards Climate Change

Late last month, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its second report, warning the impacts of global warming are likely to be ‘severe, pervasive and irreversible.’ It’s considered the most comprehensive assessment to date, providing ‘overwhelming evidence’ of the scale of these effects.Yet, it’s now eight years since Al Gore coined the phrase ‘an inconvenient truth’ and we still seem much closer to where we started than the place we wish to get to. Worryingly, one of the concerns about the UN report was that the language was so ‘apocalyptic,’ it portrayed climate change as a battle already lost.

Heineken Doubles Renewable Energy Use, on Track to Meet 2020 Goals

Heineken has increased the percentage of renewable electricity it uses in its global operations from 9.3 percent in 2012 to 18 percent, to a total of 358,100,000 kWh, according to the beer maker’s recent sustainability report.The increase in renewable energy use, as well as improved energy-efficiency projects, helped Heineken to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 119 kton in 2013, which the company says is the equivalent of nearly 2,400 trips around the globe with a fully loaded 30-ton Heineken beer truck. For example, some 99 percent of the 116,000 refrigerators the company purchased in 2013 were ‘green,’ resulting in an average energy savings of 40 percent over 2010 numbers.

Study Reveals Few Fashion Brands Are Walking Their Sustainability Talk

A recent study by brand comparison website Rank a Brand shows discrepancies in sustainability talk and action in the fashion industry. The report finds that while fashion brands are tackling sustainability challenges through communication (63 percent speak of sustainability on their websites, 10 percent more than in 2011; 20 percent publish a sustainability report), many are not backing it with details and data.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts Across Western US Going Dark for Earth Hour 2014

For the seventh consecutive year, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts throughout the Western U.S. and Hawaii will participate in Earth Hour, a global event organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to raise awareness about climate change. On Saturday, March 29, at 8:30 p.m. (local time) these Fairmont hotels and resorts will participate by turning off their lights for one hour.“Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for Fairmont colleagues and guests to participate in the world’s largest global climate change initiative,” shares Thomas Klein, Regional Vice President and General Manager for Fairmont San Francisco. “It furthers our ongoing support of environmental awareness and demonstrates the hotels’ ongoing energy conservation stewardship.”

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TripAdvisor Extends GreenLeaders Certification to European, Canadian Hotels

TripAdvisor, the go-to global site for travel advice, is extending its GreenLeaders program to 19 new markets including Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Explaining the benefits, Jenny Rushmore, Director of Responsible Travel at TripAdvisor, said, "With so many travelers placing an importance on the eco-friendly practices of the places they visit, hotel and B&B owners stand to gain a real competitive edge by promoting their environmentally friendly practices."

#ToastToWater: Raising a Glass to Raise Awareness of Global Water Challenges

On March 22, the world will acknowledge World Water Day to celebrate the importance of fresh water and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Established in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, World Water Day is a reminder of the critical value of water to life, and a collective call-to-action to address the increased pressure that is threatening what is considered our most precious resource.

The Times They Aren't a-Changing

We are at a point in our species’ history when the need for change has never been stronger. Therefore it is with some frustration that the change we require remains ever out of reach, trampled by business as usual.At every sustainability or CSR conference a plethora of gurus will tell you that sustainability and CSR types use the wrong language, are too techy, are too interested in the difference between GRI G4 and G3.1 or are too immersed in the internecine antics of the IIRC and SASB.

Keurig Green Mountain's 2020 Targets Address Company's Biggest Sustainability Challenges

Keurig Green Mountain's ninth annual Sustainability Report, released today, reveals progress on the company’s 2013 initiatives, and also announces the company's ambitious new 2020 targets with a focus on three main practice areas: Resilient Supply Chain, Sustainable Products, and Thriving People and Communities.

60% of Americans Now Believe Climate Change Caused by Human Action

Just over 60 percent of Americans are convinced that human actions can cause significant changes to global climate over a long period of time, with the occurrence of natural weather disasters wielding considerable influence on their opinions, according to the fifth annual Sense & Sustainability Study released this week.30 percent of US adults are skeptical while 10 percent are unsure as to the impact of human activity on significant changes in temperature or precipitation over an extended period of time.

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'The 2 Cows' Letting Customers Know Exactly What They're Eating

With its "Know what you eat" website, French organic yogurt brand The 2 Cows (Stonyfield France) is demonstrating commendable transparency regarding the composition of its products and traceability of its ingredients. It also presents its continuous improvement on the different sectors as well as challenges still to be addressed in the coming years.Certainly, The 2 Cows has many strengths:

Long John Silver's Sustainable Fish Campaign Not a Fish Tale After All

As part of a recent brand relaunch, Long John Silver's (LJS) — the largest seafood restaurant chain in the US — is on a mission to get more US consumers to "Think Fish."

First Lady Proposes Canning Junk Food Marketing in Schools, Unveils Updated Nutrition Labels

It’s been a busy week for Michelle Obama, as the First Lady unveiled proposals that would change the way we learn about food — both bold moves that would involve sweeping changes that would prove “a big deal” if implemented.

Great Brands Never Have to 'Give Back'

A recent headline, “JCPenney Releases 2013 Sustainability Report,” reads like the punch line to a bad joke. Apparently the struggling department store company, which is closing 33 underperforming stores and incurred a net loss of nearly $500 million in its last reported quarter, felt it was important to promote a report detailing its sustainability activities. What JCPenney probably intended as a reassuring message about the company came off more like an effort to distract people from the realities of its fundamental business problems.

How Brands Can Get Under Our Skin

There’s a house on Long Island that can keep you young. At least, that’s what the architects claim – and it’s no small matter in an aging world. If I asked you what you’d look for in your ideal home, you might reply ‘a space to unwind’ or ‘a little love and laughter.’ I’d be surprised if you came back with ‘rejuvenation’: a word used to sell face cream, not housing.But perhaps we don’t give enough thought to the way in which our minds and bodies are constantly responding to the world around us. What an opportunity for brands! We may not know we want houses that keep us young, but it would make a great selling point in an estate agent’s window.

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