On June 7, the sixth annual Sustainable Brands conference concluded after four days of insightful plenary sessions, workshops and discussions. More than 1,300 sustainability, brand and design leaders gathered in Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, CA to hear from 180 of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners of sustainability and social innovation. The conference theme, “The Revolution Will Be Branded,” focused on the role brands can and will play in driving a response to growing environmental concerns and consumer activism worldwide and culminated in six project commitments that will move forward over the next year.
This year, they introduced a new dimension to the conference — a convening of conversations and commitments by a broad range of stakeholder in meeting challenges with a cross-industry, cross-sector approach. The community will continue to collaborate to drive impact from six key areas going forward, with plans to report out progress as appropriate throughout the year on our site (sb.com) and at other SB events including SB London, and SB’13.
The six co-create activations include initiatives aimed at employee engagement, leadership, reforming Wall Street, well-being and happiness, break-through brand promises and creating the model factory. More details and updates will be available from Sustainable Brands newsletters and future event sessions.
Throughout SB ’12, each day of plenaries was devoted to examining a major overlying factor currently influencing the sustainable brand revolution. The first day focused on sustainability trends and drivers, featuring speakers from technology, mass retail, brand management and consulting companies. Hunter Lovins, President & Founder, Natural Capitalism Solutions, set the stage by discussing why sustainability is not only necessary for future business success, but logical. Other speakers included Andrew Winston, author of Green Recovery, Jeff Rice, Director of Sustainability, Walmart, Sean Gourley, CTO and Co-founder of Quid and many more.
Day two of the plenaries was dedicated to sustainability innovation. Attendees heard from CNN International’s Mike McCarthy about how the media company is transforming journalism into a force for good with the CNN Freedom Project. John Lyell Clarke, President and CEO, Clarke, awed the audience with his company’s story of transformation towards more sustainable offerings. Christiaan Maats, Founder, OAT Shoes, inspired attendees with his journey taking a radical idea — shoes that bloom –and turning it into a reality. Later that day, the annual Sustainable Brands Innovation Open Finals took place, where four finalists made their case before the judges and attendees. After much deliberation, the judges named Ecofiltro as the SBIO winner for its efforts in creating sustainable water filters that provide inexpensive and clean drinking water to communities in the developing world.
Day three highlighted sustainability communications and how companies can best convey their sustainability efforts to the public. Ford’s John Viera presented the company’s “Go Further” campaign, which brings the power of choice to consumers, alongside a commitment to going above and beyond government clean air regulations. Christopher Arnold, Communications Director, Chipotle Mexican Grill, set forth an example of using the creativity of animation to approach a problem largely unrecognized by their consumers — reformed food sourcing.
Adhering to its sustainability principals, SB’12 strove to be a zero-waste event. Disposable materials were eliminated as much as possible in the planning process and on site. Clearly marked recycle and compost bins were strategically placed to encourage attendees to reduce waste as much as possible. Glad Bags provided special recycling and compost bags at check-in to encourage zero waste practices by those staying on property. A squad of volunteers called “The SB’12 Sustainability Team” patrolled the conference grounds and re-sorted waste at the back of the house to make sure all waste was diverted to recycling and compost streams. Thanks to these efforts, 3,429 pounds, or 97.3% of conference waste was diverted from landfill, and the total waste from the 4 days, 1,300 attendees conference equaled 139 pounds — less than one bag per day.
With events like SB’12, we are excited to see a growing commitment to new sustainability ideas and opportunities in the business community beyond simple “green washing”.