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Education and Give-Back Opportunities Lead Brands’ Earth Month Strategies

With Earth Day on April 22, the entire month has become a key marketing period for denim brands to tout their sustainable goals and accomplishments. Consumer awareness of temporary PR stunts and greenwashing is changing the way Earth Month looks for the better, however.

“As the pressure intensifies for retailers to overhaul products and processes to become more ethical and environmentally friendly, Earth Month promotions will not only become more frequent—timings will blur,” Edited stated in a new report.

While Earth Day remains the most popular day for brands to send sustainability-related emails, year-round communication on sustainability is helping familiarize shoppers with the topic. Customer emails mentioning sustainability last year increased by 32 percent year-over-year and 84 percent since 2019, according to the retail analytics firm.

“Retailers need to keep up the momentum of ‘Earth Day is every day’ by being consistently transparent about their goals instead of waiting until April to drop dense sustainability manifestos,” Edited stated.

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Third party platforms like Green Story are aiding brands in this endeavor. Used by Oliver Logan and Boyish Jeans, Green Story measures the environmental impact of brands’ products and communicates it to consumers in a way that is quick and easy to understand.

Brands are also using social media for purposes other than promoting new products. Prior to the release of its Responsibility Report, Ganni shared sustainable milestones in a social media campaign focused on “21 things we did for the first time in 2021.” Milestones spanned publishing its supply chain with Provenance to inking a deal with Infinited Fiber and bowing its first collection made with re-worked fabric and stock.

In general, brands are rolling out sustainably made collections and initiatives throughout the year. Levi’s introduced its “Buy Better. Wear Longer.” campaign last April, but it continued the conversation by introducing plant-based dyes in September, circular 501s made with Circulose in December and upcycled denim with Collina Strada earlier this year.

With sustainability and supply chain delays weighing heavily on brands’ entire production, Edited said consumers can expect to see fewer sustainable capsule collections earmarked for April. Instead, the firm urges brands and retailers to promote a curated edit of products already in stock.

“With overproduction key in fashion’s contribution to the climate crisis, retailers will want to steer clear of manufacturing collections specifically for the event,” Edited stated.

Retailers should also bypass the usual tactic to drive attention to events: sales. In the case of Earth Day, sales run counter to the premiumization of sustainable fashion.

“Discounts can tarnish consumer perception, making products appear more disposable,” Edited stated. “Instead, look to allocate a proportion of sales to a charity.”

With covid ushering in the “kindness economy,” Edited reported that give-back opportunities for land and water charities like One Tree Planted and Oceana were popular in 2021. Cult Gaia, Levi’s and Hunter were among the brands that offset emissions by planting trees last April.

This year, Edited urged brands to extend their charitable schemes to support communities directly impacted by climate change or nonprofits fighting for social and environmental justice, like Clean Clothes Campaign, Environmental Justice Foundation and League of Conservation.

“Do your research and collaborate with an organization that aligns with your brand’s goals and values,” Edited stated.

And carry that research into educational opportunities for the end user. To help consumers “alter their habits for more sustainable shopping and living,” Edited said brands can use their social media channels or email campaigns to share simple changes they can make.

“Retailers can use Earth Month communications to pass on knowledge and skills to increase the lifespan of a product,” the firm stated. “On a larger scale, explore virtual or in-person events or workshops to promote clothing care, repair, and customization.”

In 2021, H&M, Levi’s and Universal Standard sent dedicated emails showing how consumers can reduce their impact at home though recycling, repair and washing their clothing less. Brands like Tommy Hilfiger and The RealReal also marked the occasion by hosting virtual events with sustainability influencers.

“With more eco events on the horizon and retailers wanting to live up to their ‘Earth Day/Month is every day’ catchcry, promoting sustainability efforts year-round will combat being perceived as performative,” Edited stated.