Getting practical about sustainability

We need to get (really) practical about everyday sustainability:
Nailing the reformulation and moments of truth.

If you’re anything like me you’re doing what you can to reduce your use of single use plastic, but occasionally you have to revert back to old ways for practical reasons.

For years I have used stretchy silicone lids to cover leftover food, for example, and they are brilliant. However last week I had a situation where I needed to revert back to the poster child of single use plastic, cling film.

I chose said cling film from a UK grocer because it proudly advertised itself as pvc free. Fantastic, or so I thought, until we tried to use the product at home. Firstly, the cling film only came off the roll in small pieces, and was impossible to prize off in a single sheet. A bad start. Then when you triumphantly have assembled the shreds of said film, it clings to itself, not the intended item.

We eventually gave up and took the product back. A shocker.

I checked online and there were 300+ reviews of 1* (out of 5), 70% of which are from the last six months. Does no-one monitor their website? Can they not pull the product until it’s fixed? Consumers are absolutely furious. Not annoyed, enraged. “This made me cross” “unusable” “I will NEVER buy again”. Nothing in response from the retailer in question, nada.

Where was the quality control? Where was the product testing? (something that our sister division in Blue Yonder, Sense:Lab are experts in as it happens).

And then there’s the commercial impact. This will undoubtedly put people off that product forever and harm future sales of similar lines. The negative impact of these moments of truth will certainly impact my future choices around new reformulations. I am now more cynical and slightly less trusting for sure.

I love that brands and retailers are taking steps to innovate and improve their products, but it’s time to get practical about sustainability.Think practicality at the moments level, and help people along the journey. Test everything, repeatedly. Call it healthy paranoia.

Finally, make sure you police your moments of truth, be open to feedback and if you make a mistake take the feedback on the chin and act on it.We are all trying, we are all learning, this is a journey together.

(I have reached out to the retailer in question and it’ll be interesting to see if they do remove the product or at least change the formula).

Have you ever experienced anything similar?

Matt Sloan

Head, Brand:lab

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