Designed as a marketing ploy or not, Unilever’s goals in its “Sustain Ability Challenge” are commendable and worthy of notice.  Unilever, the global health and food conglomerate known for brands such as Ben and Jerry’s, Dove, and Knorr is trying to use their worldwide presence as a way to change consumer behavior towards sustainable living.

A total of twelve United Kingdom families will take part in the “Sustain Ability Challenge”. In the social experiment, “Families will test practical ways to adapt their daily routines and adopt more sustainable behavior, for example, not throwing away food and not over buying.” Prior to the experiment, families were told that such proactive measures would help them reduce up to fifteen percent off their food budgets and up to twenty five percent off their total waste.

The company hopes to, “…Understand the triggers and barriers to changing consumer behavior towards more sustainable choices.” The decision to start the project came as a result of the nearly seventy percent of consumers in a recent poll citing price and expenses and being the primary reasons behind their failure to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. The most admirable part of the experiment however is that Unilever is planning to use the research to help spark a global movement.  Specifically the firm’s long term goal is to, “…Use the research to shape its conversations with Government and other commercial firms to address broader issues of consumer behavior change.” Changes in social behavior start on a local level, but it is through the actions of governmental bodies that truly drive the sustainable movement forward. Even if done as a marketing stunt, Unilever’s “Sustain Able Challenge” is worthy of praise, if not simply for the fact that it brings about awareness for a truly worthwhile cause. Either way, let’s all take this social experiment as an example of how we can all live green, and be green.


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