How Effective is the Message We Send About Sustainability?
Last week my boss attended the spring meeting for the Sustainable Packaging Coalition in Toronto, Ontario. When he returned, I listened to his take on the speakers, subject matter and overall impressions of the event. He picked out a few nuggets and referred me to download the presentations, view them and then write about them. He also handed me the booklet he received at the conference to read over. In the past I have attended SPC events, so I was familiar with the format and some of the speakers. The booklet is interesting as it gives speaker bios and a brief synopsis of the talks and tours offered. I also downloaded the presentations and went over them. Since they are just a part of the speaker's presentation, they leave me a bit in the dark. Not hearing the talk or seeing the speaker's body language puts one at a slight disadvantage. This happens when an integral part of the message is missing - leaving the reader to fill in the blanks.
When I was looking at the SPC website, I noticed that they also had a section titled the Packaging Stewardship Video Challenge where members were invited to submit short videos highlighting their company's progress, innovation, and commitment to sustainable packaging. The videos were intended to inspire, educate, and encourage viewers. There are videos from 5 different companies sending out messages on this subject. They were interesting to watch as I tried to follow and understand the messages being presented. I did notice the various techniques, the storytelling and branding connections and how they varied from one to the next. It was distracting at times as it was easy to get caught up in these techniques and see the connections become connected, disconnected and then reconnected. In doing so, the information gets lost, diminished or misdirected. Doesn't seem fair to have to watch these numerous times to get the message being delivered.
After watching the clips I realized the difficulty in telling one's story about sustainability in manufacturing as well as in packaging. I had various questions about water use, energy consumption, validity of message and overall brand initiative regarding the subject matter. If anything was accomplished, it was confusion. I was at a loss for any level of comfort or security in the brands presenting. I did understand one from a branding firm explaining their role with clients and sustainable packaging.
So after viewing the clips, reading PowerPoint presentations, the conference brochure and discussing it all with my boss I came to the conclusion that making messages about sustainability runs a strong parallel to advertising giving one the opportunity to lead others down a desired road in order to sell more. My fear is does this properly weigh against the waste that comes from our ever rising consumption of goods?
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