To sustainability… and beyond!

  • June 2024
  • Jordi Wisse
  • featured

How to win in the eco era?

As the Agency of Sustainable Ideas, we know how to create a lean, green campaign that keeps on giving. But what was once just a moral good has now become a financial one. Consumers will pay more for genuinely sustainable (not greenwashed) products and brands will need to move towards regenerative business to compete. 

Sustainability-conscious consumers are projected to spend $1 trillion by 2027 — and this market looks intriguingly robust. Gen Z and Millennials show the highest consideration for sustainability, at 94% and 93% respectively, while Gen X are the most likely to actually pay more for sustainable items, at 78%. Even when you consider all generations together, willingness to pay a price premium of 10% for sustainable products has increased across the board.

Eco-conscious consumers are a strong and growing market that no brand can afford to ignore. In short? Sustainability was already strong a moral imperative. Now it’s a financial one.  

Walk, don’t run! The race to sustainability is a long one. 

As the Agency of Sustainable Ideas, Brains prides itself on creating adaptable and reusable messaging frameworks rather than quick wins and novelties. That’s because achieving real sustainability in business — and ideally regenerative practices — is rarely a quick win.  

Trying to change things up too quickly can backfire: 

  • Paint company Valspar removed an additive from one of its paint lines for environmental reasons. Without it, bacteria grew and, as the weather got warmer, customers’ walls developed the strong and unwelcome smell of cat pee. 
  • Frito-Lay moved to biodegradable bags, which were louder than a motorcycle when opened; one was recorded at over one hundred decibels. God help the person who tried to sneak that snack into the cinema.  
  • And who can forget when Honda, Volvo, and Toyota made the eco-friendly move to encase their motor wires in new soy-based wrapping? New, delicious, soy-based wrapping… which transformed car engines into a buffet for rats.  

The journey from ‘doing less bad’ to ‘actively doing good.’

Taking sustainability seriously as an ongoing journey isn’t just about avoiding an engine full of rats. Consumers are increasingly conscious of greenwashing, which McKinsey have identified as a reputational risk that will erode your consumer trust.

That’s why we’re now starting to see businesses aim higher than sustainability, so they can evolve from just ‘doing less bad’ to ‘actively doing good.’ While sustainability keeps things as they are via reduced environmental impact, regeneration will actively restore degraded ecosystems, boost biodiversity, and improve the health and resilience of the natural systems we all rely on. That’s a win-win-win. 

Using regeneration to lead the sustainability market.

There isn’t one agreed business model for regeneration, but Brains has found a compelling argument in the idea of Net Positive Impact. This is when an organisation’s handprint is bigger than its footprint. The handprint is the positive impact or difference a product or service makes in the market. The footprint is the negative impact that this same product or service creates along its life cycle.  

Here are some great examples of getting regenerative business right: 

“Don’t Buy This Jacket.”

Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company, has long been a champion of sustainability. They have implemented a regenerative business model by focusing on reducing waste, promoting fair labour practices and using recycled materials — 100% of its polyester products are made from recycled materials. Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability has not only earned them a loyal customer base but has also inspired other companies to follow suit. Their bold campaign “Don’t Buy This Jacket” even encouraged people to buy less and to repair clothes instead of buying new.  

Unhru Walnut Farm

On a smaller scale, this is a farm in California run by a farmer educated at the Soil Health Academy. He runs his farm on their Six Principles of Soil Health and Three Rules of Adaptive Stewardship. When trialling a new pesticide called Nimitz, he realised that the active ingredients were derived from mustard. So, with regenerative practices in mind, he began experimenting with planting mustard instead of spraying pesticide, seeing success within six years. 


This quietly cool shoe company is the epitome of how regenerative business practices call for a revolutionary new approach to business. It was founded fifteen years ago by two entrepreneurs who source their rubber from the Amazon, so they can maintain rubber forests that would have been sacrificed for cattle farming. They manufacture everything in Brazil. They don’t spend on marketing, whether traditional or via social media influencers. They pay their supply chain fairly, which makes their shoes comparatively expensive. And they don’t even bother having investors, because they want to maintain the freedom to experiment. Their patience and principles have paid off, however, because the last few years have seen their shoes become ubiquitous.


If you‘re ready to explore sustainability, regenerative practices, or the best way to style your Vejas, get in touch with Brains.