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Why We Tell the Stories Behind Sustainable Products

Telling the stories of the people and forests behind FSC-certified products deepens consumers’ connections with the brands, and demonstrates the impacts of responsible sourcing. We expect this is just the beginning, due to the clear signals of consumer demand for these stories.

The Forest Stewardship Council understands the importance of good storytelling. In partnership with leading brands, we strive to tell the stories of the people and forests behind FSC-certified products; by doing so, we deepen consumers’ connections with the brands, demonstrating the impacts of their embrace of responsible sourcing.

In 2021 and beyond, we expect to produce more and more of these stories due to the increasingly clear signals of consumer demand for them. According to NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Businessextensive 2019 research into US consumers’ actual purchasing of consumer-packaged goods (CPG), 50 percent of CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products. Products that had a sustainability claim on-pack accounted for 16.6 percent of the market in 2018 — up from 14.3 percent in 2013; and delivered nearly $114 billion in sales, up 29 percent from 2013. Most importantly, products marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not. In more than 90 percent of the CPG categories, sustainability-marketed products grew faster than their conventional counterparts.

For further inspiration, here are a few great examples from our partners:

  • When it comes to creating engaging product stories, few are as experienced or committed as Patagonia. When it launched the world’s first FSC-certified wetsuit a few years ago, Patagonia naturally included an extensive marketing campaign centered around it use of FSC-certified Yulex, which is sourced from natural rubber trees in Sri Lanka.

  • The Allbirds company is entirely built around the pursuit of exceptional sustainability. Using tree fibers in its FSC-certified footwear, the company says “Mother Nature is our muse” and trees are the “rockstars of the forest.” Naturally, we agree — and appreciate the way Allbirds has spotlighted FSC as a credible backer of its sustainability claims. We also like the way the company includes the carbon footprint of its products, such as the FSC-certified “Women’s Tree Toppers.” In the future, we envision that carbon impacts of Allbirds’ FSC sourcing may also factor into these calculations.

  • Amazon’s 2020-launched Climate Pledge Friendly products program creates a customer experience that moves shoppers seamlessly from discovery and understanding of FSC to direct purchase of FSC-certified products. It also makes it easier for shoppers to reliably find FSC products on demand. FSC is the only forest-based product certification recognized in this bold new program, which included 25,000 products at launch — carrying one or more of 19 highly vetted sustainability certifications. Climate Pledge Friendly is perhaps the most far-reaching consumer-facing sustainability initiative launched to date, with vast potential for global impact on consumer purchase behavior. While most FSC-certified products included to date are consumables such as toilet paper and printer paper, a growing number of gift ideas are also included. FSC continues to work with Amazon to identify and add products to its database.

  • Another appreciated example of sustainability marketing is Pottery Barn, which has created a “” within its online platform. Offering a wide array of FSC-certified wood furniture, the company has gone a step further to offer products — a limited addition “catchall tray” and coffee mug — that send proceeds to FSC with each sale (FSC is a 501c3 nonprofit organization in the US).

In the months and years ahead, consumers are sure to reward brands that tell their sourcing stories well. As natural climate solutions become more and more imperative in the face of continued climate stress, consumers will increasingly “shop their values” — and those values will increasingly emphasize sourcing.

If you are a corporate marketing professional exploring strategies and campaigns, please keep FSC in mind. As the examples above show, there are many great ideas to build on. In the end, it will take the full power of the marketplace to help protect and restore forests. FSC would love to work with you to advance our shared commitments.

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