Reflections from 486F

Throughout the semester I have learned a lot in Sustainability marketing and it has definitely changed how I view the world. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of the course. Since it was about sustainable marketing, I was not sure if the concept was entirely possible. I quickly learned it was possible and it would help the world greatly if every marketer was required to take this course.

This course also showed me how to market sustainable behaviours, which is a very useful tool. Every marketing student knows it is very difficult to change behaviours, let alone change a behaviour that you can’t see direct results from. Throughout the course and the final project, I was able to see how you can slowly change people’s perspectives and their behaviours.

This course has also made me very aware of my consumption patterns. Every time I open a product, I am blatantly aware of how much useless packaging is used. All this packaging just ends up being thrown away and as a result I end up feeling very guilty. Now I try and look for products with less packaging to begin with so I don’t end up complaining about it, then feeling guilty when I throw it away. I also try to buy products that have green labels on them. Before this class I was unsure what each label meant and didn’t know if they were reliable. Now I am able to tell the difference and can be a more sustainable shopper.

Before this course I thought that cutting our consumption was the only way we were going to help the environment. Now I realize through cutting and switching to more innovate technology we will still be able to advance as a society and still improve our economic well being. After completing this course, I see no reason why companies cannot switch to sustainable practices. I have no sympathy for company’s who do not wish to partake in these practices, and then complain about depleting resources for their company.

By switching to sustainable practices, it not only helps the environment but usually helps companies decrease costs through this process as well. It is a win-win situation. So if baffles me why companies aren’t being more sustainable. Maybe they aren’t being educated of the benefits or maybe they are just being stubborn, but either way it pains me to see that some companies are still being careless of the environment or are using it just to generate sales.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the class. I not only learned a lot about marketing but about my own sustainable practices as well. It has opened me up to new ways of thinking about marketing and the environment.

Roll up the Rim Madness

I was reading Jodie’s blog about Tim Hortons and I couldn’t agree more with her argument. I’ve had to wait in extra long lines for Tim Hortons coffee just because of the “Roll up the Rim” promotion. This is a brilliant marketing campaign that attracts many customers but neglects to think about sustainable practices and environmental impacts.

Since people want to partake in the contest, they are less motivated to bring their own reusable mugs.  As Jodie mentioned, even when people do bring their reusable mugs they are given a second cup for the sole purpose of rolling up the rim. This creates a huge waste and unsustainable behaviour. We should be conditioning people in the opposite way.

If Tim Hortons could come up with a promotion that gets people to win and participate in sustainable behaviours at the same time, this would be truly genius.  Perhaps they could still have a similar contest but only for people who bring their own reusable mug? (They would need to do some brainstorming on this one since people wouldn’t be rolling up the rim any longer, but it could be possible.)

Right now, all Tim Hortons is doing is driving sales. They need to think about their sustainable impact from driving consumerism and giving out an abundance of paper cups that can’t be recycled. (Not to mention still giving a paper cup to those who want to bring their own mug and help the environment.) The least they can do is come up with a recyclable mug incentive. As a Canadian trademark they should become more sustainable and make me proud to call them our nations go-to coffee brand.

Earth Hour 2013

Yesterday I was completely shocked when my roommate told me that it was Earth Hour at 8:30.  Usually I hear about Earth Hour long in advance and prepare to do something with friends.  When I lived near Toronto, we would go downtown to one of the many restaurants that let us dine in the dark and then listen to the free Earth Hour concert.

Last year, I tried to go downtown Vancouver to at least eat at a restaurant in the dark, but none were participating. It saddened me to think that there were no festivities going on in the greenest city in Canada.

So fast-forward to today and I didn’t see one sign or hear a single person talk about Earth Hour. So is Earth Hour not having the same appeal today as it did five years ago? Do people still care or was it just a trend?

Well as I sat in the dark I realized even if the appeal has slightly worn off, it is still better to have some people participating, rather than doing nothing. But next year I hope one of us can put our sustainability marketing skills to work and help get that Earth Hour buzz back again!


Sustainable FIFA Stadiums

I was reading an article on how the 2014 FIFA World Cup stadiums were being built and it shocked me at how eco-friendly they are going to be.  This is the world’s first major sports stadium that is net-zero energy and LEED Platinum certified. Here are some of the components they added to make this stadium sustainable:

  1. The stadium’s roof is large and white and works with Brazils weather, which is hot in direct sunlight and cool in the shade. The roof has 2.544-magawatt solar panels that will collect power and provide the local grid with electricity.
  2. The sections of the roof not covered in solar panels are layered with titanium dioxide, which will help reduce greenhouse gases from the air. When the titanium dioxide is activated by the sun it coverts the carbon dioxide to, essentially, dirt which is then washed away by rainwater.  The rainwater is then filtered and used in toilets and irrigation systems.
  3. The stadium also helps cut emissions by offering a bike valet program to encourage people to bike instead of drive.  They will provide both indoor and outdoor parking spots for the bikes.  Finally the stadium will also help cut carbon emissions since the stadium is within walking distance of two major hotel districts.

As the head LEED consultant of this project said, “If you can build stadiums green, you can build anything green.” So let this be a lesson to other countries, builders and manufacturers who don’t think this is obtainable.  It is possible to make things in a sustainable way; it’s just a matter of being innovative and creative.



Where did the “buzz” go?

Ever wonder what the world would be like today if Al Gore won the election in 2000 instead of Bush? Not to get into politics but Gore had a very different view on the environment than Bush did.  What would this mean for the environment? Would consumers and companies have a different view of the earth? Would there be more legal implications facing companies who didn’t help the environment? These are all questions that can sadly only be speculated on.

Well Gore didn’t stop there.  We all remember the famous Inconvenient Truth documentary.  It had a very powerful effect on many people.  And around that time environmental issues were very prominent in the media and people’s mind.  But where did all of this environmental “buzz” go?

Today I feel as if environmental concerns have taken a back seat in people’s priorities. Sure there are always some people and companies who find this a main priority, but people aren’t talking about these issues as much as they used to. It’s almost as if caring about the environment is old news.  This is unfortunate because there are an increasing number of natural disasters happening every year. Yet, this being said, people are starting to become accustomed to these disasters.  It as if all of these big disasters are now an environmental norm, and with the familiarity of them, there is less motivation to do anything about it.  Maybe I’m wrong and environmental awareness and action is stronger than ever. For everybody sake, I hope I am wrong.

Cut or Switch?

As we discussed in class, the debate between switch or cut to help our environment is a heated debate between some. Before this argument was brought to my attention I had always thought cut was the only way to do it.  But with many opinions flying around the room it made me realize that cut is still important, but so is switch.  I thought that by switching, people were just trying to put a Band-Aid over a much larger problem.  Now I realize that both are crucial to the evolution of our world.  We need to learn to cut down how we spend and consume things.  If we don’t do this eventually we will run into a problem where switching will not help us. We also need to switch to a different way of thinking.   We need to start thinking of ways that innovative technology can help us move forward.  In the past we have been focused solely on the industrial revolution and the economy. This quote by Smil just about sums it up;

“Modern civilization has engineered a veritable explosion of energy use and has extended human control over inanimate energies to previously unthinkable levels.  These gains made it fabulously liberating and admirably constructive—but also uncomfortably constraining and horribly destructive.”

Smil, Energy in World History, 224.

Therefore we need to move forward in a manner that is not as destructive. We must advance in a way that helps both the economy and the environment.  As the picture below states: we are running out of time, act now before it’s too late.

Why do so many people drink bottled water?

I stumbled across this short video called The Facts about Bottled Water by Natasha Murray and it immediately got me thinking.  Why do so many people drink bottled water? Is it because they are ignorant of the environmental effects? Is it because they actually like the taste better?

After thinking about this for a few days, I realized it’s mostly because of one reason: people are lazy! People know that a re-usable bottle is better than a plastic one.  Even if you can recycle it, it is still plastic!  People may say they like the taste better, but how much can someone tell the difference between bottled water and tap water?

I did an experiment with a team in my last marketing class and we did a blind taste test with water.  Our results? No one could pick out which glass was the tap water! It just goes to show that people are stuck in their usual opinions and are too stubborn to change.

So this brings me to my final conclusion that people are lazy.  People know the environmental side effects and apparently they can’t tell the difference between bottled and tap water when tested so why are they still drinking bottled water?

Because people are too lazy to change their behaviours!  They don’t want to have to remember a re-usable water bottle, they don’t want to go find a water fountain, and they think they don’t want to drink water that tastes bad.  But the funny thing is people will wait in line and pay for water that tastes the same as free water and that contributes to ruining our environment!

So in the end yes people are lazy but its more the fact that people don’t want to change their behaviours.  Whether this is because it’s too difficult or too foreign, I don’t know.  But I do know that we all need to start making a better effort to change our behaviours.  Because if not the earth as we know it won’t be here for us too much longer.

Is going green just an illusion?

I recently read an article in BC living which was talking about companies that had partaken in greenwashing in the past few years. These big name companies ranged from Coca-Cola to Frito Lay to Apple.  Instead of these companies actually becoming more sustainable, which would help their company become more efficient, save money and become better for the world, they decided to just create the illusion of being green. This saddens me and makes me lose a little bit of hope in humanity.  Instead of spending money on marketing their supposedly green ways, they could have put this money towards actually making their company more sustainable and making this world a slightly better place. They could have also helped their company as a whole more respectable.

The crazy part is that this isn’t only happening in companies but it is happening in countries too!  And you might think it is only happening in countries that aren’t as aware or developed but you would be wrong.  It is happening right here in Canada.  The government has cut down programs that are involved with climate research and other environmental programs.  And although the government has said they have set a plan that will cut down tar sands emissions this plan won’t be implemented for at least ten years, which is just putting off the problem.

These companies and countries are the leaders in their industries and the world and if they can’t seem to take a stand and become more sustainable it makes me wonder if anyone will.  It is obvious that these companies and countries are just there to make money, but as we talked about it class, there needs to be a world there to make money from! Do they not care about this because they just want to be the most profitable at the moment? Do they think these choices will not effect their generation? Because if they answer is yes to these questions they are sadly mistaken. I wonder what it will take to make them realize this.  Hopefully it doesn’t come to the end of the world to make them regret their decisions.

Check out the links below for the articles to see which companies and countries have been greenwashing.  Also check out the last link to learn how to spot a company who isn’t actually sustainable but is just greenwashing.