Sustainability Reflection

COMM 486F, Sustainability Marketing, has been an awesome course that I definitely recommend to Sauder students in Marketing or Sustainability or both. I took this course because I am pursuing my sustainability concentration in Sauder. I’m also a Marketing student, so taking a course about sustainable marketing made sense to me. COMM 486F is the last course I have to take in order to receive my sustainability concentration. My last Sustainability Marketing post will be a reflection of the course.

Has it changed how you think about how you live your life as a consumer? Sustainability Marketing has definitely changed the way I live my life as a consumer. Although I was aware of issues such as greenwashing prior to taking the course, I learned more about why companies decide to go green and why consumers decide to purchase green. Since this is the fourth sustainability related course I have taken, I feel more educated about the benefits of being environmentally friendly. I really look forward to changing my behaviours to become more sustainable.

Has it changed how you think about business? For sure! With greenwashing becoming a huge issue, consumers are exposed to the bad side of eco-marketing. Although I have learned that not all businesses really care for the environment (they only care about profit and share), there are also a lot of organizations that really integrate the environment into their business strategy. These businesses don’t get talked about much. As a consumer, I would like to research more about the organizations I’m purchasing products from. If I’m going to spend money on products, I might as well find something that promotes social and environmental benefits.

Has it changed what you think a sustainable society might look like? It’s hard to imagine what a completely sustainable society would look like. I feel like consumption of material products has been engraved into our minds and it would be a difficult behaviour to stop. A sustainable society would live a very simplistic life and would do sustainable behaviours out of habit. I definitely think that societies can do more and be innovative with how they can be sustainable. Vancouver is an excellent example of changing behaviour in small steps. Recycling has become apart of our daily habits. It will be interesting to see what municipalities implement in the future. How far will they go to change our habits and improve the environment?


Sustainability Creates Innovation

Ali Birston, my Sustainable Marketing classmate, blogged about an interesting innovation in Lima, Peru. In Lima the Lima University of Engineering and Technology and Mayo DraftDCB identified a problem. Many villages do not have access to clean water. In addition, because of the climate, Peru receives very little rainfall in certain areas, but has atmospheric humidity of 98%. One of the excellent things about sustainability is that it inspires people and inventors to become innovative. In this example, UTEC created a  billboard that produces clean and drinkable water out of air. UTEC took advantage of the humidity in the area and created a technology that used the climate in order to produce clean water.

UTEC has done an excellent job in creating a technology to address a problem in their country. Not only does this social and environmental invention help the people where the billboard is located, but it improves the brand image of UTEC. I hope UTEC and other engineering organizations continue to create innovative solutions that address the needs of people worldwide.

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Ocean Wise helps Vancouverites make sustainable decisions

ocean-wise-icon-largeRecently, my classmate Oliver wrote a blog post about Ocean Wise. Ocean Wise is a program that was created by the Vancouver Aquarium to inform consumers about the seafood they are eating. More specifically, Ocean Wise is a certification that lets consumers know that the seafood they have selected is environmentally friendly and contributes to the sustainability of marine life in the future. In his blog post, Oliver questions whether the information Ocean Wise provides us is important. I definitely think having credible certifications helps consumers make informed decisions and increases their awareness on sustainability issues. It makes the decision process easier because we trust the Ocean Wise symbol without having to do extra research.

I’ve had some experience with communicating the benefits of Ocean Wise. I used to be a waitress at Earls Restaurant. One of our most popular dishes was the Ocean Wise Lois Lake Salmon. My managers ensured that each server knew how to communicate the benefits of the Lois Lake Salmon and the Ocean Wise brand. Ocean Wise does an excellent job in educating distributors of Ocean Wise products. Educating distributors of their products is an excellent strategy to improving overall awareness of the Ocean Wise certification. Ocean Wise has certainly grown over the past few years. They currently have 450 members in the Ocean Wise program and have items at approximately 3,100 locations. Hopefully we’ll begin to see more of these sustainable certifications in a variety of the foods we purchase at our supermarkets.

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The Slacktivism Issue


Slacktivism is defined as “a willingness to perform a relatively costless, symbolic display of support for a social cause, but an accompanying unwillingness to devote significant effort and to enact meaningful change.” An example of slacktivism is liking a Facebook page that promotes a social cause or wearing a breast cancer pink ribbon without devoting time to create improvements or change.

A classmate of mine, Morgan, recently wrote a blog post about her thoughts on slacktivism titled, “Slacktivism: Is it really all that bad?”. Morgan believes that the fact that people are doing something to support a social cause should be acknowledged because they are spreading awareness. I definitely agree with Morgan. Although people could put more effort into supporting causes, at least they are aware that there is a problem that needs a solution.

The idea of slacktivism has made me reflect on when I’ve been a slacktivist with certain social causes. The one that comes to mind is the Kony Campaign. When the Kony Campaign was introduced to the social media world, all Facebook friends/Twitter followers felt obligated to watch the infamous video that everyone was sharing. In addition, everyone shared the video through their social media platforms. The video from that campaign inspired me to create change. However, I did not take part in any of the Kony activities that ensued after the video came out. Actually, I don’t think a lot of people did much to contribute to the campaign after the video was released. Although I did not physically support or donate money to the issue, I became aware about the issue of Kony, which I think is important too. It has become easier for people to practice slacktivism. It will be interesting to see if slacktivism increases in the future.

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S Oil is helping the parking issue in Korea

South Korea is a country with one of the highest levels of gas consumption. As the video mentions, their consumption problem is getting worse. In 2011, the South Korean population consisted of 49,779,000 people. In their video, S Oil estimates that South Korea has 1 car for every 2.5 people. According to this statistic, roughly 19,911,600 cars are used in South Korea. S Oil has decided to help their consumers use less gas though parking assistance. S Oil states that everyday drivers wander approximately 500 meters to find a parking space. This uses approximately 1 litre of gas per month. As a result, S Oil decided to take some initiative and launch the HERE Campaign. S Oil has set up a bright yellow HERE balloon in each parking space. If the parking space is free, drivers can see the HERE balloon from a distance instead of wandering throughout the parking lot to find a spot. Once the parking space has been taken, the balloon drops and is out of sight for other drivers looking for a parking spot.

S Oil’s marketing campaign is very interesting. Since South Koreans find the task of finding a parking space stressful, S Oil has addressed the need to make the task easier. Although S Oil’s awareness will definitely improve throughout this campaign, it will be interesting to see what they do in the future to address high gas consumption. This campaign will improve their brand image, but will it change consumption behaviours? I don’t think so. If anything, I believe that making it easier to find parking spaces will encourage more people to drive their cars. Because S Oil is a gas company, people may question the credibility of their statement, “It is on a mission to save oil”. Is S Oil really trying to save oil? OR are they saying that is their mission in order to gain a better brand image resulting in an increase in sales?

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What’s the deal with bottled water?

say-no_to-bottled-water1UBC’s Alma Mater Society recently came to terms with the issue of bottled water at the school. Tap That UBC is an organization that is doing all they can in order to ban bottled water on campus. A few days ago they presented the case for banning bottled water to the AMS. According to our campus newspaper, this put the AMS in an awkward position… On one hand, UBC is a sustainable school and we do take proper initiatives to be greener in comparison to other universities across North America and large organizations in BC. On the other hand, bottled water is one of the best selling products throughout campus. So I guess this does put the AMS in an awkward position. Do they ban water to be sustainable? Or do they provide their students with the products that they demand?

For me, I’m a student on a budget, which is why I always bring a refillable water bottle to school. I can’t justify spending $2 on something that I can just get for free. However, I am human and can be forgetful. I have to admit that sometimes I do forget to bring my water bottle to school. That is the only reason why I do occasionally buy water on campus. In my opinion, UBC will eventually have to ban bottled water at some point because UBC students are generally very conscious about the environment and social causes. Additionally, this is the next step for UBC if they want to be prized for their sustainability efforts. My recommendation… slowly start phasing it out. UBC should continue to offer discounts on their refillable water bottles at the Bookstore while cutting back on the amount of vendors that sell the product.

With this debate going on at my school, I decided to look into the effects of bottled water. The Story of Stuff is an excellent resource for learning about the life cycle of a product. In this particular video, the speaker talks about the marketing and evolution of bottled water, which is pretty interesting from a consumer and marketing student perspective.

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Social Marketing: What is your cause?


Last week in my Sustainability Marketing course we learned about social marketing. When I first heard of the term social marketing, I immediately thought of social media. However, social marketing is different. It is defined as: “a systematic application of marketing, along with other concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behavioral goals for a social good”.

The above image comes from Strong4Life, an organization that is promoting healthier habits in Atlanta, Georgia. The goal of this campaign is for parents to help their families lead healthier lives without obesity. Some social marketing critics find this advertisement a little bit harsh because of the shock factor and the usage of children to attract attention. However, using shock in this advertisement helps capture much needed attention and awareness. Obesity is a large problem not only in the States, but in many Western countries around the world. In order to address the problem, it is important for people to know the facts even if it is not what they want to hear. This ad does an excellent job in addressing problems overweight and obese children could have in the future.

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Budweiser is making me emotional!

All I can say is, wow! I never thought that I would ever see a commercial like this from Budweiser. I never got the chance to see this during the Superbowl, but I can only imagine how it must have felt to be all riled up from the game and to have this come on… Although I do not own a horse, this commercial made me think of my two dogs and the relationship many people experience with their pets. Budweiser used emotion to appeal to all of the viewers during the Superbowl. From the story of a horse growing up and a bond with the Budweiser guy to the Dixie Chicks song playing in the background, the commercial worked! Budweiser created an excellent call to action for viewers by asking them to name the two Clydesdales foals through Twitter. As a result, Budweiser has named their two newest Clydesdales foals Hope and Stan.

Although I haven’t had the chance to watch all of the commercials from the Superbowl yet, I think this one will be my favourite. Nothing beats a good commercial that pulls your heart strings!

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Lunapads: Empowering Women One Pad at a Time

lunapadsI’m currently in a Marketing Applications class that produces Marketing Plans for a variety of clients. My group got really lucky this semester since we are working with a local organization called Lunapads. Lunapads is a small business in Vancouver that sells reusable feminine hygiene products. Their products are environmentally friendly and sustainable since they can be used for several years. It is necessary for women to start thinking about reusable options. According to, a woman throws away approximately 10,000 to 15,000 tampons, pads, and applicators in their lifetime. If you add up these numbers for every woman who uses feminine hygiene products we can come to the conclusion that  there is a lot of feminine hygiene waste that’s out there. Lunapads provides solutions to this problem by introducing their main product Lunapads and by selling the popular DivaCup, another sustainable option.

Lunapads is helping society through their campaign, One4Her, a project with both Lunapads and AFRIpads. Their social marketing strategy is similar to TOMS approach. For every Lunapad a customer buys, Lunapads donates a pad to a girl in Uganda. Unlike Western cultures, when girls in African and other poor countries menstruate, they are forced to miss school due to lack of feminine hygiene products. Their products are already quite popular without this social marketing campaign. However, by introducing One4Her, customers are given more incentive to purchase more products and help others.

I’m very proud to be doing my Marketing Applications project for a company that believes in empowering women locally and internationally and has sustainable values. The women that work for this company are very passionate about their vision and mission. That kind of passion is what I hope to have in a future career. If you haven’t heard of Lunapads, you should definitely check their website out:!

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Unilever’s Strategy: “You can do well by doing good.”

Unilever is the umbrella brand of many products that we use today including Lipton Tea, Popsicle, Axe, Vim, and more. The brand has become apart of everyone’s daily lives through their products. Unilever’s goal is to become a change maker in the industry. In order to accomplish this goal, the organization hired their Senior Vice President of Marketing, Marc Mathieu to be apart of Unilever’s inspirational journey to reinvent the role of marketing. Unilever’s CEO wants to double the size of their business while reducing their impact on the environment and increasing positive social impact of the company. Mathieu states, “The role of businesses needs to be in society. You can do well by doing good.” Overall, they would like to improve their Triple Bottom Line. Unilever has accepted what all businesses need to come to terms with. Doing well in business is not JUST about making profits.

In order to accomplish their goals, Unilever’s Senior VP of Marketing believes that they need to reinvent marketing. Although Unilever’s products have strong brand associations with their consumers, the company would like to craft brands for life. Unilever believes they can achieve their goal by reconnecting with their consumers as human beings. They want to strategize how to market their products to real people and drive their behaviour to do better for our planet and society. Mathieu believes that social media and technology can assist the company with this plan.

Unilever is taking an important step in the right direction with their sustainability strategy. It is clear that they are using their brand and consumer power in order to make a beneficial difference in the world. I really hope that they can meet their sustainability goals and make a difference in their consumers’ lives.

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