Earth Day 2024 Goals: As Marketers, We Can All Do Better

What better time to talk about the efforts we as marketers can make toward sustainability than on Earth Day? A report by First Insight's showed that 62% of Gen Z shoppers prefer to buy from sustainable brands, and a staggering 73% are willing to pay more for sustainable products. That’s a powerful message all brands should take to heart.

While most major brands have a sustainability strategy, are they practicing what they preach when it comes to brand activations -- everything from a simple in-store brand activation to a large-scale experiential event?  While experiences make a positive impact for brands, we need to be mindful of the associated environmental impact.

As someone who’s been in the event production space for nearly 20 years, I’ve witnessed many efforts born out of good intentions that end up falling short. As an example, Mike White, chief executive officer and founder of Lively, reported that half-a-million dollar structures from Cannes are often trashed.

Sustainability is not just about having a low carbon footprint. According to the United Nations, the three pillars of sustainable development are economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental protection. It’s critical that brands adopt these same principles in their sustainability guidelines, with a focus on marketing events and activations.



Economic Growth

When it comes to live brand activations and experiences, it’s important to consider the economic impact from a local perspective. Engaging with minority-owned businesses and local creators is not only an investment into the local economy, but also brings authenticity and a meaningful connection.  Shopify's Creator Mart at SXSW in 2023 was an activation that featured products from local and minority-owned businesses that use the Shopify platform -- a great opportunity for these brands to reach new customers.

Social Inclusion

It's vital to think about creating experiences that are inclusive of all races, genders and physical abilities, free of barriers to participation.

This includes incorporation of best practices including location selection, ensuring activations are easily accessed by public transit, and menu creation -- planning for dietary restrictions and displaying ingredients.  It also means both achieving ADA compliance, and striving for a barrier-free environment for all.

Environmental Protection

Earth-conscious brands will always win. Patagonia, a gold standard brand when it comes to putting the earth first, launched a traveling version of its acclaimed Patagonia Worn Wear program, where participants at local Patagonia stores nationwide could learn how to repair and trade in their own clothes to reduce waste.

As a community of creative and innovative thinkers, we have a unique opportunity to have a positive impact on our planet. It's important for us to prioritize sustainability from the outset of every project, and to consider environmental, social, and economic solutions throughout the process. Let's use Earth Day 2024 as a catalyst to push ourselves to be even better at creating ideas and activations that benefit the planet for future generations.

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