Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category
19th March 13
The second of series of reports from Austin, by a few lucky BBH SXSW survivors.
Author: Helen Lawrence, Strategist, BBH Labs & BBH London
The most recurring topic of conversation in Austin during SXSW isn’t the future of technology, it isn’t the principles of responsive design and it certainly isn’t what makes something viral. It’s meat. What meat to have in your breakfast taco, what meat to choose for your lunchtime ribs and what meat should top your dinnertime hot dog (I can’t believe Tim didn’t mention this in his SXSW reflections!). This is a town dominated by BBQ joints and smoking shacks. I fear that after five days there I may have the incredibly sexy combination of scurvy and gout:
However, we have a problem. One hundred thousand years ago humans still needed 2000 calories a day to function. Back then, to produce that 2000 calories we’d get through 1800 to find and produce something to nibble on. Fast forward to today’s brisket loving era and it takes 200,000 calories to produce those same 2000 calories. Our food production habits are screwed up. We waste everything: energy, resources and it even the food itself once we’ve got it to that juicy, edible point. It’s not at all sustainable. We’re messing it up, and we’re doing it quickly.
So – who is the obvious person to turn to in order to solve this problem? An astronaut of course. Nothing beats an astronaut. Ahem.
The 100 Year Starship project is using the question of interstellar space travel to get to an answer:
“We exist to make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years. We unreservedly dedicate ourselves to identifying and pushing the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight, while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications that enhance the quality of life for all on Earth.”
If we’re going to have to consider exploration outside of our solar system we’re going to have think a little beyond a simply bigger rocket. One self sustaining pod hurtling through the sky; it has to keep a bunch of humans alive for a century, stop them killing each other and prevent them from getting hungry.
The space race in the 60s was a tangible one: getting to the moon is a challenge that could be imagined and solved. The 100 Year Starship Project wants to set a challenge that trickles down solutions into our own fuzzy planet in the same way. The space race has given us some of the biggest everyday technologies we use now: scratch resistant lenses, GPS and water filters for example. By posing some of the biggest societal and sustainability questions out there and considering how we’d achieve them to last 100 years in space, we can hope for properly realistic solutions to the things we’re messing up at the moment.
Meat is a big one, clothes are another. It’s a terribly energy intensive hobby. We make too many, we own too many, we wash too many and we don’t recycle nearly enough. 100 years at our current clothing rates would need a lot of wardrobes up on our space ship, not to mention cotton fields, plastics factories and silk worms. We can’t take clothes to space, despite them being such a core part of our creative identity as humans – one solution put forward by the 100 Year Starship project includes reusable sheets that we project clothes onto, allowing us to change them whenever we like.
Back to the bovines. As much as I love the idea of cows in space, wearing little cow shaped astronaut helmets, it just can’t happen. ‘Fake meat’ companies are popping up all over the place, even Twitter co founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams are investing. That’s one possible solution for our 100 Year Spaceship. What else is there?
I like the 100 Year Starship project. It frames a problem into a great story. Mae Jemison, a brilliant astronaut, told the SXSW audience that we should tell better stories, ones that inspire and ones that can bring about social change. The project neatly frames sustainability into something we can picture. There are no cheats when you’re somewhere outside of Alpha Centauri. So many of our so called sustainable solutions aren’t that at all. We feel we’re doing well when actually the problem is just popping up somewhere else. You can’t do that on a spaceship.
This makes me ruminate a bit on brand strategy – we talk a lot here about strategy being the art of sacrifice. What would you sacrifice in your brand armoury if forced to focus on the essentials? And would your brand get a spot on the starship in the first place? Is it ducking and diving, pushing superfluous issues elsewhere? Perhaps not being quite as sustainable or transparent as it could be? Whack it in a bubble and put it in space: it’s a good way to test it.
I’m excited about the 100 Year Spaceship. The hippies and the astronauts are getting it on. And damn, it’s even sexier than gout.
25th September 12
Posted in Sustainability
Authors: Kimberley Gill and Mareka Carter, Creatives, BBH London
Do we really, really, want those Louboutin shoes? Can’t we live without that hand printed wallpaper? Maybe we can all take a little step back from what we think we want or need, and consider the realities of other peoples lives. Pinterest struck us as being the perfect place to highlight the contrast between its regular users’ lives and those who have far less, giving us a bit of a reality check.
Our charity partner AMREF’s focus this year is maternal health – in particular young girls in rural Tanzania who are becoming mothers as young as 11 years old, due to traditions and lack of sexual health education. So Pinterest is our chosen platform to give a young mother a voice to express herself and the realities of her life.
Our search for a girl who would become AMREF’s voice for the project started back in April. The AMREF team over in Tanzania put forward Sihiba Yusufu, a girl who had become pregnant at the age of 11. Now 13, Sihiba is trying to bring up her baby and look after herself. She feels strongly about what happened to her and doesn’t want it to happen to any more young girls.
What seems like a really simple and quick project has actually been a little while in the making, for the important reason that we wanted this project to be as genuine as possible. The Pinterest account has to be from Sihiba herself, and not by AMREF on her behalf. There have been many challenges along the way – the iPhone got stuck in customs, helping Sihiba learn to use Pinterest, working out the logistics of keeping the phone charged in rural Tanzania. And of course making Sihiba’s safety a priority – so she has the support of an AMREF peer educator during the project.
Sihiba’s Pinterest profile can be found here: Please follow her and her boards, comment on and share her images and her film, to stand up for African mothers and help create social value from pinning. Let’s use social media to show what people need, rather than what they desire.
You can also donate to support AMREF’s important work here.
2nd November 10
We’ve written before about our straight-up admiration for Green Thing’s focus on using creativity to switch people away from thinking of green living as something we ought to do, to something we want to do.
This time around, they’ve applied their talents to t-shirts.
As the blurb says: “Saved is a new sustainable product and anti-waste campaign that takes unwanted or unloved T-shirts, washes them, hand-stitches ‘Saved’ lettering onto them, adds a Saved story (saved from bad taste, saved from disrepair, saved from neglect) and in doing so makes each T-shirt a bit more fashionable and a lot more desirable.”
Aside from the obligatory celebrity endorsement (stand up Marina and the Diamonds, Imogen Heap, VV Brown, Professor Green and Zandra Rhodes, who’ve all donated t-shirts) the thing we particularly like is the innovation and design Green Thing used at every stage of the Saved cycle. Including a “pay it forward”-style approach to delivery – already recycled, the packaging containing your t-shirt can be reused with a freepost label to send back one of your own old t-shirts to be Saved for somebody else.
But more importantly, buy one on their Facebook page here.
19th March 10
“Designers are natural activists…taking responsibility for the consequences of what we design needs to be part of the value system of our industry, not a burden for a fringe group to take on. We have reached critical mass in terms of consciousness of the challenge; now we need to move from awareness to action.”
Valerie Casey profile, SXSWorld magazine 2010
Ideas that marry great design with real purpose make us sit up and take notice. So it is with A Developing Story, which we’ve been following since its launch at the end of last year.
ADS publishes news stories from developing countries with a clean & intuitive design that avoids all the worthier-than-thou clichés associated with the category. It also has a mindblowingly simple campaign at its core: to make the creative assets created for public awareness campaigns freely accessible across developing markets.
Makes perfect sense, right? A campaign that nonetheless needs all the support it can get if governments are to be persuaded to dump red tape and adopt what is in effect a Creative Commons approach across developing nations.
18th January 10
Posted in Sustainability
We need your help.
Aside from reading this (60 seconds) we also need just 10 seconds of your time.
If we can persuade enough people to give us 10 seconds and one click, we’ll help achieve something extremely worthwhile.
Read on . . .
In between some fairly insanely busy day jobs, a few BBHers from our New York office have been busy on a project called ‘Pencils of Promise’ (PoP), a startup non-profit organization dedicated to building sustainable education in the developing world. PoP is one of one hundred organizations participating in a $1MM competition (sponsored by Chase) called the Chase Community Giving Program. The competition is being run through Facebook as a voting contest, and the organization that receives the most votes will receive a $1MM grant. The five runners up will each receive $100,000. Voting ends Jan 22nd.
PoP is (as of today, Sunday morning ET) in 9th position, but only 1000 votes off the top 5 and 20,000 votes off top spot. Most of the organizations participating are leveraging massive databases and established relationships with celebrities to spread the word. Fair play. PoP doesn’t have that, so BBH Labs is attempting to activate our extended network of friends, bloggers and tweeters to spread the word today and activate some votes.
Pencils of Promise is also well-placed to make an immediate impact in light of last weeks horrific events in Haiti. With a commitment to sustainability and on-the-ground impact, the organization has committed, should they win the grand prize, at least $100,000 to youth focused projects in Haiti; they will personally oversee and develop these. That seems pretty awesome to us; once the immediate emergency aid is up and running it’s clear that the young people of Haiti are going to be central to the recovery. In it’s modest way, this should help.
Please help PoP and do two things . . . ideally right now:
1. Vote for PoP on Facebook: http://bit.ly/4DYKIV
2. We don’t usually ask for RTs at Labs but we think this is an exception, so please retweet the tweet that sent you here, or cut and paste this into Twitter:
We need your help with ‘Pencils of Promise’: ten seconds, one click is all it takes: http://j.mp/8naMZJ (please RT)
One click, ten seconds.
Brad Haugen (BBH NY; @hoogs), Michelle Keith (ex-BBH NY; @michelleakeith), Ben Malbon (BBH Labs; @malbonnington)
For a 99 second intro on YouTube: youtube.com/pencilsofpromise
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
Pencils of Promise is a registered 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that builds sustainable schools, partnerships and solutions to enable basic education for under-served children in the developing world. Pencils of Promise is a passionate community of individual volunteers dedicated to empowering each person regardless of status or position to make a positive impact on the world.
Founded in October 2008, PoP uses for-profit business principles and non-profit ideals to work to empower Western youth to use their skills, abilities and networks to participate in the nonprofit process in a meaningful way. With more than 75 million children in the world without access to a preschool education, PoP helps bridge the gap of inadequate educational resources for the world’s most impoverished children.
In 2009, the organization’s first year of operation, Pencils of Promise raised over $150,000 in donations through fundraising events and donor support, built three schools in Laos, and established a presence in more than 20 cities and college campuses throughout the country. In 2010, Pencils of Promise has goals to attract 5,000 new supporters across the globe, to build seven more schools in committed villages in Laos, Haiti and Nicaragua, and to continue to identify additional areas of impact around the world.
More information about Pencils of Promise is available at pencilsofpromise.org.
15th October 09
“This is it. One day, one issue, thousands of voices.“
Robin Beck, Lead Organiser, Blog Action Day 09: Climate Change
Blog Action Day has it all: a social experiment on a mass scale, for the good of the planet. And, whilst it’s been pretty awe-inspiring to witness thousands of people write about the same topic in one day, it’s fair to say we’re most excited by that word in the middle: Action.
With that and #BAD09′s climate change focus in mind, we’re using our post here to share the work of Sebastian Copeland, the photographer, environmental advocate & polar explorer. (Full disclosure: I’m proud to say Sebastian is also my cousin).
Aside from the fact we’re not-so-secret fans of exploration in all senses of the word here at Labs, the thing we most admire (as we’ve discussed on a more than one occasion) is the killer combination of ground-breaking creativity put to great use. In Sebastian’s case, it’s one thing to have enviable creative & technical skill as a photographer, director, writer & speaker, it’s altogether another thing when that’s combined with a fearless appetite for physical endurance and a single-minded commitment to putting climate change issues front & centre.
25th September 09
We like nothing more than a brilliantly innovative creative idea that does its bit for the planet, as fans of iSaw and Papercut will know. Throw in a fashion angle on top and we’re totally sold…. so when our friends at Green Thing told us about their Glove Love initiative, we were delighted on at least three levels.
Launched to coincide with London Fashion Week, Glove Love is part of Green Thing’s anti-waste initiative All Consuming and is their first sustainable product to help people do the Green Thing in the physical world. Very simply, they will take lonely single gloves that have lost their original partners, wash them and then pair them up to create new and unique Glove Love pairs. You can get involved by donating a lonesome glove yourself and/or buying a pair for just £5 plus postage & packaging.
Glove Love has received some great support from the likes of Emma Thompson, whose voiceover immediately gives their ‘Glove Story’ promotional film a decidedly Working Title rom com-esque feel:
We particularly like the fact once you place an order a mystery pair of gloves are despatched to you lovingly labelled with their life stories. And of course you can add comments to the site and as a proud owner you’re invited to upload a photo to the site gallery.
Glove Love is creative, ethical, slightly silly and has the ability to offer that little frisson of surprise life so often lacks. What’s not to love? Go donate a lonely glove or even better buy a pair at the dothegreenthing.com shop