The Launch Lowdown debates brands’ biodegradable bones of contention: sustainability

The Launch Lowdown debates brands’ biodegradable bones of contention: sustainability

Stormzy, badgers, bands threatening to kill conservatives - whenever Glastonbury rolls around, the proverbial mud-slinging always follows. Although, mostly it's from those who either couldn’t get tickets, or who have little to no interest in what the festival has to offer.

Yet the one topic that dogs Worthy Farm year after year is sustainability. No suprise, given that Glastonbury’s hippy dippy, eco-friendly ethos means that anyone who leaves their tent at the end of the weekend, or abandons cups and food, is heavily judged.

Whilst it's always funny to watch punters become gradually enraged as they try to Steve Irwin their pop-up tents to no avail, at the same time, it does make you wonder. Are we doomed to destroy our planet? Are we too far gone to become a sustainable society?

The simple answer is no. Plenty of brands are trying their hand at sustainability, launching products and services that make sense from a consumer perspective. But there’s only a few that’ve done so with genuine success. So, as you prepare to nestle in front of the TV and debate if Stormzy deserves to headline off the back of just one album, if The Killers deserve to even be paid, and how does Kylie stay looking so young? Here are some recent eco-friendly launches that have stood out in the Glasto build-up.

Dame's reusable tampon applicator, D

We might have just lived through a social media craze of people throwing cheese slices at babies, yet taboos remain. Some are still relatively untouched - drugs and death being the main ones - but it seems that finally in 2019, we’re allowed to talk about women, er, being women.

Holland & Barrett’s Me.No.Pause campaign battered down the barriers earlier this year, and DAME’s new product came at just the right time. Or so it would seem.

Dame, which originally started as a period subscription service in 2015, went through Kickstarter crowdfunding to prove its reusable tampon applicator was something people would actually want. Because there’s already sustainable options out there - how is this any different?

After colluding with female colleagues it appears that in contrast with something like a menstrual cup, which hasn’t yet reached mainstream adoption, Dame's new product (simply called D) is just a new spin on an old idea. It fulfills an extra customer need - being green - at no expense to behaviour. You don’t have to change a thing. You just have to switch to Dame's offering, and your carbon footprint’s reduced.

The timing was key here, but the new applicator had been in production for two years before launching. The crowdfunding success proved there’d be a captive audience upon launch, and presumably cut down on soft-launch testing - people liked what they saw and put their hands in their pockets upfront. So much so that, when the product was finally given a wider release in February, it did so with a not-too-shabby Waitrose partnership, which added an air of pedigree to the launch marketing strategy.

Google and Stella McCartney’s eco-fashion program

In sharp contrast to Dame's soft launch, Google and Stella McCartney went all-out with their green fashion program. Launched at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the premise is simple: Google’s new service monitors the fashion industry’s environmental impact, casting a microscope over every step of the supply chain in a bid to increase transparency through the magic of data analysis.

While the service was quite clearly billed as an experiment, Google’s brave idea to collaborate with Stella McCartney is a bold statement of intent. The fashion industry is responsible for ten percent of the globe’s entire carbon emissions. As Roger’s adoption curve dictates that early adopters pave the way and hangers-on follow suit, launching the collaboration at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, so the early adopters could rub shoulders, was incredibly smart. A lot of brands talk a good game when it comes to sustainability, and under the eyes of Google, they might have to actually walk the walk. This could be a watershed moment for the fashion industry.

Ooho edible water pods

Yeah, all right! If you just buy seaweed in a packet from the supermarket, it’s a bit gross. But Skipping Rocks Lab’s bizarre idea has used seaweed for something a little different - an edible water pod called Ooho. Its trial launch came at the London Marathon, which seemed a good fit, as running 26 miles dressed as Mr Blobby is for a good cause, and so is cutting down on plastic use. Still, it was bold. If adequate testing hadn’t been undertaken, this could’ve been a massive balls-up.

It was a necessary move, however as at the previous year's marathon over 700,000 bottles were chucked onto the capital’s streets. Much like Google and Stella McCartney, this sent out a clear message to participants to sort themselves out. And coming from a hungry startup like Skipping Rocks Lab rather than a monolith like Google, it resonates even more. Tying in with the endless plastic straw/cup debate that’s been raging recently, they could be onto something here.

Ooho pods can also support alcohol, so don’t be alarmed if you catch me sipping from a weird yellow bag in my local. It’s beer.

Doconomy’s Do Black credit card

According to the UN, we need to cut our CO2 emissions in half by 2030. While such a terrifying prospect could stop you in your tracks, those looking to make a difference could try fintech firm Doconomy’s world-first a credit card with a cap that’s not monetary, but environmental.

The card breaks down the carbon footprint of all your purchases, and like an overbearing parent, stops you making decisions that would exceed that limit. Launched with a flurry of press coverage and the influential approval from the UN’s climate change executive secretary, its users are offered the chance to support UN-approved green projects. This is a serious product with a serious solution to a serious problem.

How seriously we take it, and climate change on the whole, will dictate the course of our future. Frankly, it's pretty scary. Almost as scary as sitting through ninety minutes of The Killers, in a muddy field, full of people enjoying themselves.

George Roberts is client services director at launch marketing agency Five by Five.

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