Brands join Extinction Rebellion activist in sustainability call at Droga5 London’s Green Pivot

By Anisha Vekaria.

Brands including Coca-Cola and Impossible Foods have called for stronger action globally to address green issues and sustainability.

Speaking at Droga5 London’s live-steamed Green Pivot event, Rachel Conrad, CCO and Founder of Impossible Foods, said: “Consumers will make the right decision if you give them better products that don’t pollute or mine resources from the earth – as long as the product is better for them and the planet, and provides benefits for them beyond the smokestack products that industries are providing.”

Javier Meza, global CMO at Coca-Cola, outlined the soft drinks giant’s plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 24% by 2030: “It’s about driving transformation in the supply chain, and how we produce the products. But it becomes a marketing issue when it comes to deciding on the ways you speak about this to create value,” he said.

Dawda Jobarteh, global head of the SDG Strategy Hub at the UN, said that some big brands need to take more action on sustainability: “Recycling goods is great but it’s still pollution-producing. It’s about going back to the basics of how we lived before single-use plastics. What business has to offer is innovation, ingenuity, and a way to push governments and consumers.”

The half-day, live-streamed event, organised by Droga5 London, also saw the agency join forces with John Grant, author of The Green Marketing Manifesto and new book Greener Marketing, to explore how brands can plot a path to green recovery with creative ideas at the intersection of profit and purpose. Speaking across three online panel sessions were entrepreneurs, activists and marketers from organisations including Bulb, VICE, Project Everyone, The Face and All Together.

During a session moderated by Grant, Tamsin Omond, activist with Extinction Rebellion, said: “It feels like an important moment for a lot of people to have long nights of the soul about what on earth they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and if it has any value at all.”

While Omond said that she’s “essentially an optimist”, she added: “When there is political will decisions can become possible but without sustained rebellion, protests, and finding the resilience to have conversations all the time, we’re not going to get there; and we’re seeing a double down right now from the people in charge of the most powerful countries, which is terrifying.”

Strong action was also urged by Kresse Wesling, Co-Founder of sustainable fashion brand Elvis & Kresse: “If you’re working with a company right now that doesn’t have a 2030 [climate] plan then maybe consider taking your time and your talent somewhere else.”

And in terms of fashion and other products, she added: “If it can’t be repaired, or can’t be recycled, you shouldn’t be able to make it.”

Malcolm Fried, CMO at Investec, addressed the danger of short-termism during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Perspective is everything. Clients have important short-term needs for bridging finance but that doesn’t detract from our general view that everything is long-term,” he said. “There’s zero value in short-termism. It isn’t good for society and it isn’t good for business.

“What would help would be a simple recognition that we can’t just take and extract – it’s bad for relationships, communities, and it’s bad for businesses. It’s better commercially, and for the soul, to do things that are sustainable over the long-term.”

Dylan Williams, CSO, Droga5 London (above), added: “If Covid 19 has reminded us of anything it is that inaction is failed leadership. To act with good intention, even if imperfectly, is better than to do nothing at all. The last few months have also taught us that millions of micro-actions can quickly aggregate to great effect, as we live through the greatest behaviour change experiment in human history.

“Now is the time to apply this appetite for change to our greatest challenge: the climate crisis. And for business to show the leadership the world needs.”

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