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LOOKING BACK: 5 TOP TAKEAWAYS FROM OUR WEBINAR

November, 9th 2020

Did you miss our first ever webinar? Worry not! Here, we share with you a glimpse into our event where we had a blast re-discovering the value of stakeholder engagement and learning how technology can promote conscious consumption, among other profound lessons in sustainability. Read on for our top five takeaways!

Words By Natsumi Amano

Staiy hosted its very first webinar on October 29th, where a total of twelve leading experts discussed future challenges and opportunities with our co-founders surrounding the themes of sustainability, fashion and innovation. We are thrilled to announce that the broadcast reached an audience of over 1,100 viewers! Thank you to those who tuned in. The first session covering sustainability was filled with solutions for sustainable development, spanning households to institutions and cross-sector approaches. In the fashion session, we explored ways in which players in the apparel industry can implement practices for a circular economy and regenerative ecology. The societal significance of this industry was also touched upon, looking specifically at conscious consumption. Last but certainly not least, the event concluded with the innovation session, covering AI, phygital customer experiences and the intersection of sustainability with creativity. These two hours allowed us to discuss different aspects of sustainability and analyze sustainable solutions. 

Here are our favorite takeaways from our webinar:

1. Greenwashing? No, we’re real. Communicating Sustainability Efforts as a Brand

With a rise of greenwashing in the consumer goods industry, defining a clear purpose and mission that align with social and climate justice is crucial in enabling a business to thrive, as is translating them into actionable steps. However, it’s one thing to have a purpose and act on it, but it’s another to communicate this effort.

Sustainability consultant, Olivia Sprinkel emphasized the importance of transparency when communicating to stakeholders. Obtaining certifications and labels by third-party organizations, displaying a sourcing map on the website, disclosing carbon footprints, utilizing social media are all means to communicate clearly with consumers. 

As Aroa Fernandez Alvarez from Trace Collective pointed out, this level of transparency and the use of storytelling humanize what goes on behind the scenes of a business. In turn, this eventually encourages sustainable behavior in consumers by allowing them to form an emotional connection to a product through the story of how it was made. It’s not so easy to carelessly dispose of that scarf once you learn it has been weaved by the hands of a woman on the other side of the world using cotton harvested by hard working farmers. Harnessing the power of storytelling is key.

2. Beyond a single consumer: Collective Actions

The increasing awareness of the impact associated with one’s consumer behavior is one of the most important trends in consumerism today. Lecturer and author, Olga Mitterfellner, shared that the role of consumers nowadays goes beyond buying – connecting, acting and mitigating as a collective. The world has recently seen instances where groups of consumers call out brands and companies for their unethical practices, boycotting them, whilst “buycotting” the ones that they believe are doing it right. They are aware that consumers as a collective gain sizable power, enabling them to take action towards the change they want to see. This creates a synergy between all parties striving for a better world, including consumers, brands, and other stakeholders, such as NGOs, encouraging governments to respond. Social and cultural aspects play a crucial role in mediating this change. We must keep breaking the stigma attached to ‘conscious’ lifestyles and convey the message that being sustainable is where it’s at. 

In today’s climate, the implication of this green trend for brands is that prioritizing transparency and committing to sustainability will most likely be profitable. Francesco Minghini from Armadio Verde noted that, whilst many of us are wanting businesses to become circular, the world is hungry for a more radical approach, like the implementation of a sharing economy model.

3. Innovative Solutions for Consumer Experience

The act of consumption is inherently motivated by the benefit gained from the experience of buying products and services. As the shift towards digitalization grows, there have been exciting innovations to enhance digital shopping experiences. Green Wallet is a good example here. Business development and merchant support Junnel Watson, detailed that Green Wallet embraces the power of technology to make sustainable choices more convenient for shoppers by providing a platform to connect consumers with sustainable businesses. 

Another compelling technology introduced in the discussion came from Lone Design Club. The COO, Alice McAnulty, explained how “phygital” technology can replace what is lost through online shopping: physical interaction with people. Blending their offline stores with online concepts such as live streams and QR codes, the brand connects the physical to the digital. Cutting edge experience-based consumer technology is also seen in Obsess, an augmented virtual reality shopping platform. The international business development manager, Amrita Maria, explained how the company helps contextualize digitized shopping experiences through intuitive and easy-to-navigate technology. 

The advancement of technology is not only prevalent in B2C platforms – business-to-consumer – but also in B2B – business-to-business. HH Global is a marketing agency helping the world’s most powerful companies to become more socially and environmentally responsible. Kevin Dunkley, the company’s marketing executive partner, shared their solution-based technology that converts a business’s analytics data into a simplified, digestible format, allowing their clients to save costs and solidify their commitment to sustainability.

4. Where does the path to sustainability start? : Measuring & Assessing Impacts

The importance of measuring and scaling impacts are two points that Pauline Op De Beeck from Carbon Trust brought to the table. To avoid an irreversible catastrophe, it is critical that we reduce our environmental impact in line with the Paris Agreement, and keep global warming below 1.5 °C. Despite the increasing efficiency of energy usage, society is far from reaching the goal of carbon neutrality. With the clocks ticking, this next decade is pivotal for every member of society to initiate change. Many enterprises often react to this by investing in projects to offset carbon emissions. While this can certainly help towards our goal, we need more radical actions. Shifting business strategies from linear to circular models is one of these actions. This transition starts with assessing current models for their impacts, looking at waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy consumption, for instance, and establishing science-based targets to increase the sustainability of resource consumption.

5. Intersectional Sustainability

As sustainability grows into a widely-accepted notion, it is often mistaken with environmentalism. While environmental conservation is an important part of sustainability, it is not what sustainability is all about. Sustainability is multi-layered, encompassing social, political and environmental justice, and the intersections between them all.

Nicholas Kaspareck from Casa Congo, a conservation NGO in Nicaragua, has talked about the significance of empowering local economies in developing countries. Unlike conventional charities that offer donations and take a “laissez-faire” attitude, Casa Congo works towards the long-term financial viability of local communities. Studies suggest that those who are financially vulnerable form the most at-risk socio-economic groups. Creating employment opportunities by boosting ecotourism is invaluable to supporting local economies. Needless to say, the world cannot turn a blind eye to the humanitarian aspect of sustainability. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to sustainability because, as Guillem Bargalló Torrent from El Bien Social stated, sustainability is like a living ecosystem and how we handle it is very much situational. We have to enhance both our societal and individual efforts towards sustainability with a sense of hope and creativity by adopting a visionary mindset. As we listened with our fellow earthlings, Giordano Margalio from Ostia Clean-Up inspired us to start taking action today. Regardless of where we are now, we can all take steps to become responsible members of society by being kinder to the others and the planet.

Our webinar became a place where people with shared-visions but different approaches explored a sustainable future and reimagined the way we can have a sizeable impact on society across sectors. Interested in learning more? Simply head over to YouTube or Facebook to catch the whole discussion. Staiy plans to hold many more educational events so sign up to our newsletter and stay tuned!