Sustainable advertising

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Sustainable advertising addresses the carbon footprint and other negative environmental and social impacts associated with the production and distribution of advertising materials. A growing number of companies are making a commitment to the reduction of their environmental impact associated with advertising production and distribution.

Carbon footprint Total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual, event, organisation, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent

A carbon footprint is historically defined as the total emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Greenhouse gases (GHGs), including carbon dioxide, can be emitted through land clearance and the production and consumption of food, fuels, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services.


Advertising's environmental impact

Print advertising impacts the environment due to the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere as a result of the production and distribution of print media. Factors include the sourcing and production of paper, petroleum-based ink, solvents, plastics and adhesives used and the fossil fuels burned in the manufacturing and distribution of newspapers and magazines. Digital media has impacts due to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacturing and operation of servers and datacenter devices, networking devices and client computers as well as the e-waste impacts of these devices at the end of their useful lives.

In 2004, over 7 billion metrics tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases associated with print media advertising were emitted into the atmosphere by the United States. [1] In 2005 U.S. advertisers spent over $65 billion on print media advertising and created over 250,000 ad pages. [2] A single ad page run in a popular consumer magazine can represent as much as seven tons of carbon dioxide emissions when supply chain factors associated with papermaking, printing, logistics and landfill disposal or incineration of post-consumer and unsold media are taken into consideration. According to a recent New York Times article quoting David J. Refkin, director of sustainable development for Time Inc., a single copy of Time magazine results in the emission of .29 pounds of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gasses. [2]

Carbon dioxide Chemical compound

Carbon dioxide is a colorless gas with a density about 60% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide consists of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth's atmosphere as a trace gas. The current concentration is about 0.04% (410 ppm) by volume, having risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm. Natural sources include volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and it is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and acids. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, ice caps, glaciers and seawater. It is present in deposits of petroleum and natural gas. Carbon dioxide is odorless at normally encountered concentrations, but at high concentrations, it has a sharp and acidic odor.

Time is an American weekly news magazine and news website published in New York City. It was founded in 1923 and originally run by Henry Luce. A European edition is published in London and also covers the Middle East, Africa, and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong. The South Pacific edition, which covers Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, is based in Sydney. In December 2008, Time discontinued publishing a Canadian advertiser edition.

In the USA, about 25 million sq.meters or about 10,000 tons of non-biodegradeable PVC is directly attributed to outdoor billboards every single year. To put this into context this would cover the equivalent of 16 square miles or the centre of most major urban cities.[ citation needed ]

Corporate involvement

Corporations such as General Electric, Timberland and Wal-Mart are making substantial commitments to developing and marketing sustainable products and business practices. Victoria's Secret has recently agreed to reduce the impact of its catalogues by using recycled papers and stopping using paper from endangered forests. Moxie Sozo is the first graphic design and advertising agency to be carbon-neutral, zero waste and powered by 100 percent renewable energy. [3] However, many corporations take advantage of the sustainable issue by "greenwashing" their products to build a facade that the products are indeed sustainable, when in reality it is only a marketing strategy to gain better public relations. [4] In the case of SunChips, the sustainability campaign was not able to impress the consumers who viewed the new compostable packaging of SunChips as a noisy bag which interfered with their TV viewing experience. The backlash led to the roll-back of the packaging. Perhaps, it was not able to convince the consumers about the environmental benefits of the corn-based bag. [5]

General Electric American industrial company

General Electric Company (GE) is an American multinational conglomerate incorporated in New York City and headquartered in Boston. As of 2018, the company operates through the following segments: aviation, healthcare, power, renewable energy, digital industry, additive manufacturing, venture capital and finance and lighting. GE has a subsidiary in Bermuda.

The Timberland Company company

Timberland LLC is an American manufacturer and retailer of outdoors wear, with a focus on footwear. It is owned by VF Corporation. Timberland footwear is marketed towards people intending outdoor use. The company also sells apparel, such as clothes, watches, glasses, sunglasses and leather goods.

Victorias Secret American retailer of lingerie

Victoria's Secret is an American designer, manufacturer, and marketer of women's lingerie, womenswear, and beauty products. The company was founded in 1977 by Roy and Gaye Raymond as a response to packaged underwear, which Roy Raymond considered to be "ugly, floral-print nylon nightgowns". As of 2019, in the United States, Victoria’s Secret is the largest lingerie retailer.

In 2006, jewelry company John Hardy began a pilot bamboo reforestation project on Nusa Penida, a small island off the coast of Bali where the company's workshops are located. The primary object is to sequester carbon dioxide by planting bamboo, a long-lived, rapidly growing woody perennial grass. In order to offset the company's advertising footprint of 451 metric tons of CO2, an area equivalent to four football fields will be planted.

John Hardy (jewelry) jewelry company

Established in Bali in 1975, John Hardy is dedicated to creating artisan handcrafted jewelry. Each of John Hardy’s distinctive collections conveys evocative symbolism and honors the transmission of creative energy from the artist to the wearer. Since inception, the company has been deeply rooted in the essential values of community, artisanship, and sustainability.

Nusa Penida island of Indonesia, located in Provinsi Bali

Nusa Penida is an island southeast of Indonesia's island Bali and a district of Klungkung Regency that includes the neighbouring small island of Nusa Lembongan. The Badung Strait separates the island and Bali. The interior of Nusa Penida is hilly with a maximum altitude of 524 metres. It is drier than the nearby island of Bali. There is very little tourist infrastructure.

Bali Province in Indonesia

Bali is a province of Indonesia and the westernmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands. Located east of Java and west of Lombok, the province includes the island of Bali and a few smaller neighbouring islands, notably Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan, and Nusa Ceningan. The provincial capital, Denpasar, is the most populous city in the Lesser Sunda Islands and the second largest, after Makassar, in Eastern Indonesia. Bali is the only Hindu-majority province in Indonesia, with 83.5% of the population adhering to Balinese Hinduism.

First Sustainable Advertising's Agency

360 Agency Berlin was the first Sustainable advertising agency to be created Worldwide. Created in 2015 this agency took the decision to promote exclusively Sustainable and ethical brands. For the first time an advertising agency declared that they were entirely responsible for the product and brands they promote acting as a label in the long term. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Carbon tax Tax on carbon emissions

A carbon tax is a tax levied on the carbon content of fuels and, like carbon emissions trading, is a form of carbon pricing. The term carbon tax is also used to refer to a carbon dioxide equivalent tax, the latter of which is quite similar but can be placed on any type of greenhouse gas or combination of greenhouse gases, emitted by any economic sector.

Greenwashing Use of the aesthetic of conservationism to promote organisations

Greenwashing, also called "green sheen", is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.

Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or simply eliminating carbon emissions altogether. It is used in the context of carbon dioxide-releasing processes associated with transportation, energy production, agriculture, and industrial processes. Carbon-neutral status can be achieved in two ways:

A carbon credit is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount of a different greenhouse gas (tCO2e).

An emission intensity is the emission rate of a given pollutant relative to the intensity of a specific activity, or an industrial production process; for example grams of carbon dioxide released per megajoule of energy produced, or the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions produced to gross domestic product (GDP). Emission intensities are used to derive estimates of air pollutant or greenhouse gas emissions based on the amount of fuel combusted, the number of animals in animal husbandry, on industrial production levels, distances traveled or similar activity data. Emission intensities may also be used to compare the environmental impact of different fuels or activities. In some case the related terms emission factor and carbon intensity are used interchangeably. The jargon used can be different, for different fields/industrial sectors; normally the term "carbon" excludes other pollutants, such as particulate emissions. One commonly used figure is carbon intensity per kilowatt-hour (CIPK), which is used to compare emissions from different sources of electrical power.

Food miles Distance food is transported from production to consumption

Food miles is the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches the consumer. Food miles are one factor used when assessing the environmental impact of food, including the impact on global warming.

Sustainability advertising is communications geared towards promoting social, economic and environmental benefits of products, services or actions through paid advertising in media in order to encourage responsible behavior of consumers.

A low-carbon economy (LCE), low-fossil-fuel economy (LFFE), or decarbonised economy is an economy based on low carbon power sources that therefore has a minimal output of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the biosphere, but specifically refers to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. GHG emissions due to anthropogenic (human) activity are the dominant cause of observed global warming since the mid-20th century. Continued emission of greenhouse gases may cause long-lasting changes around the world, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States Climate changing gases from the North American country

The United States produced 5.14 billion metric tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2017, the lowest since the early 1990s, but still the second largest in the world after greenhouse gas emissions by China and amongst the worst countries by greenhouse gas emissions per person. From year to year, emissions rise and fall due to changes in the economy, the price of fuel and other factors. The US Environmental Protection Agency attributed recent decreases to a reduction in emissions from fossil fuel combustion, which was a result of multiple factors including switching from coal to natural gas consumption in the electric power sector; warmer winter conditions that reduced demand for heating fuel in the residential and commercial sectors; and a slight decrease in electricity demand.

A low-carbon diet refers to making lifestyle choices to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe) resulting from consumption decisions. It is estimated that the U.S. food system is responsible for at least 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases. This estimate may be low, as it counts only direct sources of GHGe. Indirect sources, such as demand for products from other countries, are often not counted. A low-carbon diet minimizes the emissions released from the production, packaging, processing, transport, preparation and waste of food. Major tenets of a low-carbon diet include eating less industrial meat and dairy, eating less industrially produced food in general, eating food grown locally and seasonally, eating less processed and packaged foods and reducing waste from food by proper portion size, recycling or composting.

A carbon diet refers to reducing the impact on climate change by reducing greenhouse gas production specifically, CO2 production. In today’s society, humans produce CO2 in every day activities such as driving, heating, deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. It has been found that carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions. For years, governments and corporations have been attempting to balance out their emissions by participating in carbon-offsetting — the practice in which they invest in renewable energy to compensate for the global warming pollution that they produce. Despite these efforts the results are still far off and we continue to see growth in CO2 concentration. Now, a growing number of individuals are trying to make a reduction in the amount of CO2 that is being produced by participating in low carbon dieting. This small adjustment in household CO2 production has the potential to reduce emissions much more quickly than other kinds of changes and it deserves explicit consideration as part of climate policy. It can potentially help avoid “overshoot” of greenhouse gas concentration targets; provide a demonstration effect; reduce emissions at low cost; and buy time to develop new technologies, policies, and institutions to reach long-term greenhouse gas emission targets and to develop adaptation strategies.

The environmental impact of biodiesel is diverse.

Greenhouse gas Gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range

A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. Greenhouse gases cause the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone. Without greenhouse gases, the average temperature of Earth's surface would be about −18 °C (0 °F), rather than the present average of 15 °C (59 °F). The atmospheres of Venus, Mars and Titan also contain greenhouse gases.

Environmental impact of paper

The environmental impact of paper is significant, which has led to changes in industry and behaviour at both business and personal levels. With the use of modern technology such as the printing press and the highly mechanized harvesting of wood, disposable paper became a relatively cheap commodity, which led to a high level of consumption and waste. The rise in global environmental issues such as air and water pollution, climate change, overflowing landfills and clearcutting have all lead to increased government regulations. There is now a trend towards sustainability in the pulp and paper industry as it moves to reduce clear cutting, water use, greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel consumption and clean up its impacts on local water supplies and air pollution.

Sustainable distribution refers to any means of transportation / hauling of goods between vendor and purchaser with lowest possible impact on the ecological and social environment, and includes the whole distribution process from storage, order processing and picking, packaging, improved vehicle loadings, delivery to the customer or purchaser and taking back packaging.

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Global methane emissions are major part of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Methane in the atmosphere has a 100-year global warming potential of 34. Atmospheric methane concentrations have reached almost two-and-a-half times pre-industrial levels or 3.2 billion tons. Though methane traps far more heat than the same mass of carbon dioxide, it remains in the atmosphere only about a decade, while carbon dioxide warms for a much longer time period. On a 20-year timescale, a mass of methane is about 85 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the Earth, but on a 100-year timescale, it is only about 28-34 times more powerful, because the carbon dioxide continues to warm the earth after the methane is gone.


  1. EIA - Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the U.S. 2006-Overview
  2. 1 2 NY Times Advertisement
  3. Archived December 1, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Green Marketing Myopia and the SunChips Snacklash". Harvard Business Review. October 26, 2010.