Among the fastest growing social causes on social media is the concept of environmental sustainability. Eco-friendly brands and eco influencers and creators are bringing like-minded people together in an effort to make a difference for future generations.
What is sustainability?
Sustainability is any coordinated effort to maintain a proper balance and ethical mindset toward conserving environmental resources for the greater good of the planet and its inhabitants.
Organizations that invest in sustainable practices consider it their social responsibility to do so. This approach often manifests itself in local sourcing of materials, choosing renewable energy, recycling used products/materials, or raising awareness for sustainable causes.
What is sustainable marketing?
For those brands that take sustainability seriously, they will employ sustainable marketing, which means drawing attention to their eco-friendly practices and values.
By crafting their messages in this way, they don’t merely pat themselves on the back (per se); rather, they raise awareness for environmental issues and challenge industry peers to also invest in eco-friendly materials, tools, and processes.
What is greenwashing?
Unfortunately, many brands say the right things without actually making critical changes to their business model, manufacturing, or supply chain. Greenwashing occurs when brands promote a message of sustainability but fail to take any real action.
One of the fastest ways to lose credibility with an audience is to greenwash. Today’s consumers are more informed than previous generations, and as such, they can see through the insincerity. Gen Z-ers, in particular, are vigilant when it comes to avoiding brands that fail to live up to their stated values.
Top eco-friendly business practices
While many organizations strongly encourage eco-friendly practices – lights on timers, recycling, etc. – sustainable businesses often choose to take more aggressive steps. Among the most popular eco-friendly practices by sustainable companies are:
- Responsible sourcing
- Recycled material manufacturing
- Tree planting initiatives
- Sale-matching donations to environmental causes
- Carbon neutrality
Responsible sourcing is a broad term for any method a brand takes to streamline their supply chain for the sake of the environment. To be truly responsibly sourced, company leaders must know exactly where their products are grown, extracted, or used and can confirm with certainty that waste is kept to a minimum and that all business practices are 100% cruelty-free to animals, people, and the planet.
Recycled material manufacturing
Brands that only create their products from recycled materials also do a great deal to reduce carbon emissions and promote eco-friendly practices. This approach significantly reduces waste and can lower manufacturing costs.
Tree planting initiatives
Because trees decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, sustainable brands may choose to make tree planting a key part of their business operations.
Sale-matching donations to environmental causes
There are many causes, nonprofits, and scientific communities committed to understanding and combating the effects of climate change. Brands that don’t feel qualified or able to take direct action on behalf of the environment may instead commit to sale-matching donations to an organization that they trust to promote sustainability.
All strategies listed above may fall into a company’s effort to achieve carbon neutrality, where they take the necessary steps to reduce carbon emissions in pace with their carbon footprint. This is also known as being a “net zero” organization. Due to their sustainability efforts, they’ve effectively cancelled out any negative effects that their normal operations might have on the environment.
The rise of sustainability
Scientific evidence of ongoing climate change is sparking a greater interest in curbing carbon emissions and general waste. From renewable energy to recycling, millions of consumers are more environmentally conscious than they’ve ever been. A sustainable lifestyle choice is known as reducing one’s carbon footprint.
One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to reuse household materials, such as bottles, plastic bags, and more. Another way is to pay close attention to the brands you do business with.
“Studies show that 56% of consumers will stop buying from brands they believe are ethically unconscious and 91% of consumers will likely switch to a brand that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality.”
– Amra Beganovich and Elma Beganovitch, Founders of Amra & Elma
Many brands are joining the ranks of those calling for eco-friendly living and legislation. Of those brands, some will form Benefit Corporations (B Corps) to make sustainability a cornerstone of their business model, while other for-profit businesses will scale their organization with eco-friendly best practices in mind.
How sustainability meshes with influencer marketing
Social media is a place where those with similar values and interests create online communities, and environmental sustainability is among the more popular causes around which social media users come together.
Leading these various online communities are creators or influencers. Social media creators inspire members of their audience to learn more, try new things, and engage one another on shared goals and values.
It comes as no surprise that eco-friendly brands would want to build partnerships with sustainable creators.
What is a sustainable eco influencer/creator?
Creators who devote a significant amount of their content to raising awareness for eco-friendly lifestyles and causes are known as sustainable influencers. These creators put time and effort into informing their followers on environmentally-friendly choices, and they frequently recommend sustainable brands and products.
Because of how prevalent greenwashing is within retail, many consumers are slow to trust brands that claim to embrace sustainable business practices. But when a trusted creator endorses that brand, people are more likely to take those brand values seriously.
“Trusted endorsements are the linchpin to effective influencer marketing. But if you can’t buy trust…how do you build it? The same way you do in real life: Through cultivating genuine relationships. Brands need to see influencers not as a transaction, but as a real connection.”
Eco-friendly brands already succeeding in influencer marketing
“We believe that big change starts small… These small choices add up (trust us, we’ve done the math), and we’re here to celebrate each and every one of them.”
Tentree is committed to three things – sourcing materials responsibly, planting ten trees for every sale, and raising awareness for environmental sustainability. The brand also outsources much of its social content to sustainable creators and leverages their influencer program to build a community of environmentally-conscious customers.
Darn Good Yarn maintains an excellent process of recycling waste to create some of the finest quality yarn on the market. The brand also partners with social causes committed to raising awareness for sustainability around the globe.
The brand recruits like-minded artists to help them design custom crafts and promote company values on social media. Darn Good Yarn carefully vets each creator partner to ensure that they share the same values and empower environmentally-conscious customers.
Pela creates phone cases out of compostable plastic – that is, plastic that can decompose into plant-nurturing soil. The brand invests in messaging and creator partners to raise awareness for the difference between “biodegradable” and “compostable” so that eco-friendly buyers can make more informed decisions.
Like Darn Good Yarn and tentree, Pela only works with like-minded influencers to achieve audience alignment and authenticity. This approach combats greenwashing within an industry fraught with waste and misinformation.
10 eco influencers to inspire your audience in 2021
Haatepah Clearbear is a Native American model who uses Instagram and TikTok to advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples in North America. He also uses his voice to promote living a sustainable lifestyle to combat the effects of climate change.
Kathryn Kellogg is an author, blogger, and educator committed to informing her audience about eco-friendly living. She shares the latest scientific research, techniques for recycling and reusing stuff around the house, and shoutouts to countries and cities who’ve made big gains in achieving environmental sustainability.
3. Neel Wanders
Neel Wanders is a travel influencer, blogger, and eco-consultant. His goal is to help people learn how to travel sustainably and make a positive environmental impact wherever they go.
4. Immy Lucas
Immy Lucas is an environmental social advocate and vegan expert. She primarily uses video to promote her message and partner with other like-minded creators. She maintains her personal brand, Sustainability Vegan, through her blog and YouTube page.
5. Jen Brownlie
Jen Brownlie is a lifestyle photographer and sustainable influencer who likes to promote eco-friendly outfits and home decor. She loves DIY projects with recycled items, as well as fashion brands that only use responsibly-sourced materials.
Isaias Hernandez is known online as Queer Brown Vegan. As an educational creator, he guides his audience toward eco-friendly living through environmental justice, zero waste, and plant-based diets.
Sabs is a vegan creator who loves crafts, thrift fashion, and farmers markets. She considers herself an intersectional environmentalist, meaning that true sustainability means supporting all people groups while protecting the planet.
8. Bea Johnson
Bea Johnson occupies a living space of less than 200 square feet and has been “trash free” for more than ten years. Her zero waste lifestyle has sparked interest in her as an author and motivational speaker on environmental justice.
Tolmeia (Tolly) Gregory is a prolific GIF creator with a passion for protecting the planet and informing others on true sustainable practices. She is also known for exposing fashion brands guilty of greenwashing.
Elizabeth Teo is an environmental educator who partners with brands to help them craft impactful messages on sustainability. She also uses her blog and social media to inform her audience about eco-friendly living.
Brands that truly want to make a difference in protecting the environment can do no better than partnering eco-friendly creators and influencers. These individuals are passionate about their values and maintain meaningful relationships with their followers and fans.
Not sure how to find the right creator for your brand? Identify the right influencers in just a few clicks with GRIN.