The first is to leave the discipline – to accept that a full and uncritical embrace of ‘consume less’ is incompatible with what marketers are here to do. Either that or take a salary drop and confine well-honed talents to the marketing of organisations, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, whose sole purpose is the elimination of waste and the mitigation of climate change.
The second route is to take the concept of ‘sustainable’ so seriously that every aspect of the brand offer is audited, assessed for its environmental impact and ruthlessly modified where found wanting. The target here is ‘circular production’, where raw ingredients, and methods of farming, manufacture and disposal guarantee to put as much back into the ecosystem as they take out. In the short term, and maybe the longer term too, one thing that won’t be taken out is elevated profits; this is not one for the fainthearted.
The third way to go – and it could embrace number two while it’s at it – is to hit back at what is, ultimately, a catchy but empty soundbite. Consume less of what? Of everything? What a dismal and dangerous world that would be.
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