Last month President Trump revoked laws to limit the emission of greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants in the US. This marks a bleak step back from Obama’s commitment to combat climate change. With baffling statements such as ‘I believe in clean air’, Trump continues his tirade against environmentalism. Luckily it seems the UK is making positive strides towards bettering our planet. The plastic bag levy will soon rise to 10p and over 40 companies – including Coca-Cola, Unilever, Tesco and Marks and Spencer – have signed the UK Plastics Pact to get rid of single-use packaging by 2025.

Sustainability is a red hot topic, and it’s putting increased pressure on brands, especially within the food and drink industry. To be ‘sustainable’ means not harming the environment or draining natural resources so maintaining long-term ecological balance. Research suggests that younger generations are taking a much keener interest in the wellbeing of our planet, with millennials believing that businesses have a moral duty to be sustainable. In today’s climate, having a ‘sustainable brand’ is vital for building a good reputation and maintaining consumer trust. This means complete transparency on their practices and the provenance of their ingredients and materials. Yet the issue of environmentalism poses both an opportunity and a threat to brands. According to Chris Griffin, chief executive of the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, “brands have to be very careful not to respond too quickly to media pressure. If they say ‘we’re going to go for all sugar cane-based packaging’, that’s going to be dangerous for them because they won’t be able to deliver it”. If they fail to deliver on lofty plans, they will surely be in the firing line. Iceland has announced intentions to be plastic-free by 2023 (two years earlier than Tesco); many have accused Iceland of staging a PR coup. This begs the question as to whether the virtuous (or not so virtuous) intentions of companies matter, so long as they are making positive changes.

The luxury sector has benefitted from current trends for minimalist packaging design, with much experimentation with innovative sustainable materials. Manufacturers like Progress Packaging have been working with recycled cottons, hessian and canvas, along with corrugated board and recycled boards. However, green packaging options are expensive and often not viable for smaller brands with price points for the mass market. Yet sustainability encompasses much more than physical materials. Sustainability is also about animal welfare, sustainable farming practices, protection of public health, good treatment of employees and community support.

When it comes to sustainability, we’re inspired by our client Obrigado. Obrigado’s ethically sourced, single-origin coconut water is harvested and produced on their very own sustainable farms in Bahia, Brazil. Not only is it healthy, delicious and refreshing, the brand’s ethos is centred around supporting the eco-system. Obrigado’s farms, home to over 4000,000 Brazilian Green Dwarf trees, use the mosaic principle to maintain an ecological balance. This means that 70% of the land is set aside as untouchable, in order to maintain the balance for the 30% of the land they farm. Their goal is to be a zero-waste company, so they strive to use every part of the coconut. Not only is the white flesh used for coconut milk and coconut oil, the dry coconut husk is made into biodegradable anti-erosion blankets, which help revegetate slopes and embankments. Alongside caring for the eco-system, Obrigado also supports its local community through Instituto Gente, a foundation that supports education and cultural projects for the local people of Pedra Grande.

Following years of sustainable practices and a dedication to social responsibility, Obrigado is being acknowledged for its efforts. The much-loved coconut water is proud to have just been declared a B Corps brand – and has become the very first coconut water to receive the accreditation.

With this in mind, we’re aiming to be more conscious of what we are consuming and its effects on the planet. What could you do to contribute to a (more) sustainable September?

 Obrigado Coconut Water is available nationwide on, RRP £350ml £1.89 / 1L £3.49.

 Follow @Obrigado_UK on Instagram and ObrigadoUK on Facebook and share your Obrigado moments using the hashtag #FeelingObrigado.

Written by Leonie Hyman