The concept of sustainability has been gaining ground across the board for a while now. As society becomes increasingly more aware that the world’s natural resources are less and less plentiful, the idea of sustainability assumes growing relevance.
One of the principles of sustainability is the importance of present generations undertaking to preserve natural resources for future generations: the origin of sustainable development.
Sustainable actions have consequent economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts. While these impacts may vary in their intensity, they must all have positive results.
Disseminating these actions leads to the vital raising of awareness in a greater number of people and inspiring similar attitudes.
Marketing has used sustainability to give visibility to a series of products and services. ‘Green’ products, products created from the wealth of biodiversity, and organic products, among others, are on the market as a result of working toward sustainability. Equally so is the offsetting of carbon footprints and other forms of environmental compensation. The dissemination of these products and services produced is important for the promotion of these actions and creating those which follow.
It is important to remember that marketing sustainability is a relatively new area and as such deserves a few comments.
The Brazilian cosmetics industry has not as yet publicized in full its initiatives pertaining to sustainability. On top of this, it publicizes little.
As those masters of business management, Taylor and Fayol, have long taught, all industrial operations seek to be efficient in their processes, in their use of inputs, in their increase in productivity, in their reduction of costs, etc. These are intuitive actions of sustainability. But marketing prefers to speak only of products created using ingredients from the wealth of biodiversity, that, although important, are not sufficient.
The raw material of biodiversity is obtained via gathering or mining, coordinated by companies which work in strict tandem with the local communities, giving them training, empowerment and livelihood resources, and receiving in exchange the promise to maintain the forest in good standing.
Packaging is an input with opportunities for sustainability initiatives. Making a plastic container thinner, for example, could result in substantial financial gains, a reduction in the demand for polymers – which are in general oil derivatives – and electricity, among other inputs.
Thus sustainability actions are promoted by industry from end to end, but lack widespread dissemination.
The ‘green’ label is attached wrongly to many actions which are said to be sustainable, but which in reality are nothing more than ways in which to make a fast profit. Data from the Brazilian Business Council for Sustainable Development (CEBDS) shows that 85% of Brazilian consumers do not trust what companies have to say about sustainability.
Marketing sustainability must become more efficacious. There are a great many companies doing their bit, but not all of them draw adequate attention to this fact.
Promoting sustainable actions must value the products and showcase their creators but also have as its bedrock purpose the creation of what comes next. The responsible consumer, made aware of sustainability, will be a relay body for consciously good deeds. For this reason, discourse on the subject must be more in step with practice.
Hamilton dos Santos is the Publisher of the magazine Cosmetics & Toiletries Brasil