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Study reveals influencers can switch people on to sustainable living

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A female influencer shooting a video with a ring light and iPhone
Eight in 10 people think TikTok and Instagram are good places to get advice about how to live sustainably | Photo: Antoni Shkraba

Unilever, alongside a cohort of eco-conscious influencers and behavioural scientists, have announced the results of a first of its kind examination of the role of influencer content in impacting sustainable choices. The experiment was created in partnership with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the world’s first government institution dedicated to applying behaviour science. To put activist influencer social media content to the test, BIT built a simulated social platform that showed people various styles of content, and measured the resulting behaviour change of 6,000 UK, US, and Canadian consumers.

The results showed that influencers have the single biggest impact on people’s green choices today. True for 78% of people, it is far ahead of TV documentaries (48%), news articles (37%) and even government campaigns (just 20%). In fact, 83% agree that TikTok and Instagram are helpful places to seek out advice on how to be greener at home, validating the importance of social media as a valuable tool in helping to make sustainable living commonplace. This was even higher (86%) for younger participants (18-34), highlighting the greater importance that future generations are placing on living sustainably.

Dove and Hellmann’s – two of Unilever’s largest brands – commissioned the content, alongside experts from across the business, which aimed to encourage the two most impactful behaviours on an individual’s carbon footprint: using less plastic, and wasting less food.

75% of people said that content made them more likely to adopt sustainable behaviours, including saving and reusing plastic, buying refillable products, and freezing and reusing leftovers. When measuring actual behaviour change, the study shows that people value both facts and practical advice. Of those who watched ‘pragmatic’ content, 69% went on to try something new to reduce their plastic or food waste as a result, with 61% of those who watch ‘optimistic’ content reporting action.

Branded content was viewed as just as engaging, authentic and informative as the unbranded content, with participants supportive of social media creators making sponsored sustainable content. Eight in 10 (77%) support creators encouraging their audience to behave in an environmentally friendly way and seven in ten (72%) support them selling products or services focused on sustainability. Seven in ten (76%) were encouraged to act after watching Dove plastics reuse content and 8 in 10 (82%) after watching Hellmann’s content on food waste reduction.

“People are finding it hard to make sustainable choices due to a lack of simple, immediate and trustworthy information. Our ambition is to continue to collaborate with our partners to improve the sustainability content produced by our brands and support the creators we work with. Together, we are learning what is all likes and no action versus content that makes sustainable choices simple and preferred.”, says Conny Braams, Unilever’s Chief Digital & Commercial Officer.

“This study is a world-first of its kind and the largest online controlled trial to test the effect of different styles of social media content. The behaviour change potential of social media is clear and the results show that there’s huge opportunity, providing fertile ground for further exploration in this space.”, agrees professor David Halpern, Chief Executive of the Behavioural Insights Team.

The study worked with 10 diverse creators from the UK, the USA, and Canada, including @maxlamanna@going.zero.waste, and @andyseastcoastkitchen.

For this pilot, Dove and Hellmann’s commissioned 30 pieces of content aimed at nudging people to waste less food and less plastic – two of the consumer behaviours with the greatest potential to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint.

6,000 participants in the UK, US, and Canada, were shown the content and asked a series of questions to understand whether it had affected their intentions to change their behaviour, with over 2,500 reporting back on whether it had affected their actual behaviours.

EuroNewsweek is a dynamic news platform featuring lifestyle, sustainability, successful stories, tech, leadership, creative marketing, business, and the unstoppable people behind them.

Sustainability

Sky inks 10-year deal for clean energy in Scotland

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A windfarm in Scotland
Starting in 2025, Sky will receive 100 GWh annually of clean, renewable energy from the Crossdykes Wind Farm

Sky has signed a 10-year agreement with Octopus Renewables Infrastructure Trust to receive renewable energy from the Crossdykes Wind Farm in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Under this agreement, Sky will receive the majority of renewable energy guarantees of origin (REGOs) generated from the 46 MW wind farm, which will help Sky reduce the emissions associated with its electricity use.

Starting in 2025, Sky will receive 100 GWh annually of clean, renewable energy from the Crossdykes Wind Farm, approximately 69% of the total power generated by the project. This is equivalent to approximately 34,000 UK homes’ annual electricity use. [1]

The agreement is a key part of Sky’s ongoing commitment to sourcing renewable electricity. From being the first media company to go carbon neutral in 2006, to launching the world’s first auto standby set top box – Sky has been committed to decarbonising its business for more than 15 years.

“This agreement is evidence of Sky’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact. We source the majority of our electricity in the UK from renewable energy and this long-term project in Lanarkshire provides us with lasting clean energy for years to come. As a media and entertainment company, we are determined to use our voice to help the media sector and the UK more broadly decarbonise,” acknowledges Fiona Ball, Group Director of the Bigger Picture and Sustainability at Sky.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2022, renewable energy supply from solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and ocean rose by close to 8%, meaning that the share of these technologies in total global energy supply increased by close to 0.4 percentage points.

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Last day to enter the EU Organic awards

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Last day to enter the EU Organic awards
The EU Organic Awards was first held in 2022 | Photo: Zoe Schaeffer

Organic food producers in the EU will have until the end of the day to enter the EU Organic Awards 2024. It is the third year that the initiative will be offering a platform to a winner highlight excellence and innovation in the sector. The EU wants to increase organically farmed land to 25% by 2030.

The awards are organised by European Commission, with the EESC, the European Committee of the Regions, COPA-COGECA and IFOAM Organics Europe. The EESC supervises the nomination, shortlisting and award process for three categories: best organic food processing SME, best organic food retailer and best organic restaurant/food service.

“The EU Organic Awards give a recognition to the innovation, passion and dedication of those who truly champion organic food and production in the EU and bring it closer to everyday consumers,” says EESC President Oliver Röpke.

Last year’s winners from the categories for which the EESC supervises have also joined forces to encourage businesses to seek recognition.

Kevin Scully, whose business The Merry Mill was awarded the prize for the best organic food processing SME, urged companies to nominate themselves: “I recommend other businesses to apply for the Organic Awards because it’s very good for a company’s profile and brings a great endorsement.”

Paul Kolarik, head of Austrian eatery Kolarik im Prater that won the best organic restaurant award, said: “Winning the Organic Awards generated great interest in our business from the national media. Thanks to the awards, new collaborations have also emerged and many political representatives became aware of our commitment to the organic and sustainability sector.”

The awards ceremony takes place on 23 September 2024, which is the EU Organic Day.

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Applications open for the EU Organic awards 2024

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Applications open for the EU Organic awards 2024
The EU wants to increase organically farmed land to 25% by 2030 | Photo: Gregory Hayes

Organic food producers in the EU will have until May 12th to enter the EU Organic Awards 2024. It is the third year that the initiative will be offering a platform to a winner highlight excellence and innovation in the sector. The EU wants to increase organically farmed land to 25% by 2030.

The awards are organised by European Commission, with the EESC, the European Committee of the Regions, COPA-COGECA and IFOAM Organics Europe. The EESC supervises the nomination, shortlisting and award process for three categories: best organic food processing SME, best organic food retailer and best organic restaurant/food service.

“The EU Organic Awards give a recognition to the innovation, passion and dedication of those who truly champion organic food and production in the EU and bring it closer to everyday consumers,” says EESC President Oliver Röpke.

Last year’s winners from the categories for which the EESC supervises have also joined forces to encourage businesses to seek recognition.

Kevin Scully, whose business The Merry Mill was awarded the prize for the best organic food processing SME, urged companies to nominate themselves: “I recommend other businesses to apply for the Organic Awards because it’s very good for a company’s profile and brings a great endorsement.”

Paul Kolarik, head of Austrian eatery Kolarik im Prater that won the best organic restaurant award, said: “Winning the Organic Awards generated great interest in our business from the national media. Thanks to the awards, new collaborations have also emerged and many political representatives became aware of our commitment to the organic and sustainability sector.”

The awards ceremony takes place on 23 September 2024, which is the EU Organic Day.

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