This week’s industry opinion comes from Trudi Bishop, a long time member of the toy and licensing community and founder of Bee Licensing. She is a firm advocate of the sustainability movement across toys and licensing and a regular fixture of ToyNews with her leading opinion on the topic.
Sustainability is the hot topic of conversation, from what I can tell, by a number of different camps.
First we have the committed companies – i.e. Ella’s Kitchen, Ben & Jerry’s, and Patagonia – who shout loudly about their efforts, and many of which, are BCorps-approved – businesses that are legally required to consider their impact on their workers, These are the real good guys.
Then we have those who favour more of a ‘smoke and mirrors’ PR technique. Announcing a small product range being made from recycled bottles or signing up one product to a recycling program that relies on consumer action. All the while, continuing in the background not to adopt more sustainable business practices and crucially, not designing out waste.
There is of course a third camp: the ones not making any changes. Thankfully, these are now the exception and no longer the rule.
The fourth camp are the ones who have been working towards a more sustainable business practice, but have not gone public about their good work. Maybe they simply don’t feel a need to? Or maybe (as I have been hearing too frequently) it’s because they fear negative PR if they cannot show they are 100 per cent sustainable across their whole business?
If the conversation had been five years ago, when it was easier to criticise companies for starting this journey, I’d tend to agree. But we are in a different age.
Consumers want and have an affinity toward companies who are transparent about their policies and are making changes to how they do business, with minimal impact on the planet. Some companies don’t feel they classify as sustainable as they’re not offering mostly recycled products or only bamboo toys.
However, many companies who have sensible waste management, logistics, and energy policies as well as looking after their employees and contributing heavily to charitable organisations are a long way along their sustainable and CSR journey simply by being good business people.
Through these good practices they reduce their costs, increase employee engagement and retention, increase customer loyalty and inadvertently reduce their carbon footprint.
While they work towards even better practice, I believe it’s time to be ‘out and proud’ about their good work. Show the wider business world it can be done, it should be done, and how it can be done.
It’s not always about who shouts loudest, but it is time to shout – consumers are looking for transparency and good practice, they aren’t demanding perfection. So let’s hear your stories.