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Thursday Thinky: Reducing Waste, Perspective & Humanity

This week’s Thinky is a continuation of last week’s edition.

The corporate responsibility dominoes when it comes to Climate Change are slowly but surely falling, one by one. So, we decided to highlight that trend with three new examples of companies, Nestlé, Taco Bell, and Vessel, that are tackling the waste question with new initiatives.

We’re also touching on various ways creativity can be used to shift perspective. And, we’re wrapping up this Thinky with an ode to humanity coming out of Detroit.

Enjoy the read!



Brands That Caught Our (Green) Eye


Nestlé – Spending billions to create a market for recycled plastics (CNN)

Following up in the footsteps of Blackrock, JetBlue, and Delta (see last week’s Thinky), Nestlé is getting more green! It’s a super interesting and significant move, shifting some of their budget from other business operations into ensuring a market for recycled plastics. This is the kind of commitment we hope to start seeing from more brands–walking the walk, not just talking the talk.


“Nestlé also announced a $260 million venture fund to invest in start-ups that focus on sustainable packaging. Total spending on the initiatives could reach 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.1 billion), the company said.”


Thinky Grade: A-



Taco Bell – Pledging to make all its packaging recyclable, compostable, or reusable by 2025 (Fast Company)

A bunch of their wrappers, bags, and boxes are already recyclable, but they’re going even further by installing recycling and composting bins in restaurants where local infrastructure allows it, removing cancer causing chemicals from its packaging (wait, what??–there are cancer causing chemicals in them now??!), and are working on benchmarks to measure their progress and success toward these goals. If they’re truly able to hold themselves accountable to their goals, this could be a great example to set for the rest of the fast food industry. Although this note in the article definitely gives us pause and show that more clear definitions around sustainability are clearly needed.


“…some of its sustainable claims make it clear that the company is giving itself a lot of semantic leeway in hitting its goal: Schaaphok notes the Mini Skillet Bowl is deemed “reusable” since it’s microwave safe, and the company’s website suggests you wash them and use it “as storage for knickknacks.” How many items will be theoretically “resuable” like this by 2025?”


Thinky Grade: B



Vessel – Reducing waste as a business model and DNA (Fast Company)

A whole new crop of companies and products are popping up with the core mission of reducing waste and reshaping our consumption culture. Similar to how many grocery stores have banned plastic bags in favor of reusable ones,  and charge you if you don’t bring them, some coffee shops are beginning to do the same with paper cups. And so, a new startup is jumping in with a product to support the effort.


Via an app, Vessel lets you “check out” a stainless steel cup/mug from your fav coffee shop, then drop it off at another participating location the next time you need your caffeine fix. If you forget to bring it back, you’re automatically charged $15 and it’s yours to keep. We love this! And seeing how effective the plastic bag movement has been in so many places, this could have a lot of potential!


Thinky Grade: A



Shifting Perspectives Through Creativity


The small southern town of Newnan used art to help the community to celebrate diversity and embrace chance, but not everyone was ready for what they saw (New York Times)

This photo exhibit, and the story of its origin and impact, has attracted an incredible amount of coverage and conversation nationwide. (If you don’t want to read the very long, but lovely NYT article, you can read a shorter piece here, or see a video here.)

But the TL;DR of it is this–many of the residents of Newnan were holding on to outdated and racist perceptions of the diverse people who call the city home. A neo-nazi rally that was held there in 2018 made national headlines, but part of the story was also how it was held against many residents’ wishes. There was clearly a divide. And a young photographer decided she wanted to help bridge this gap by capturing the real human fabric of the city, and spent two years immersed there. The result is a celebration of diversity and creativity, but also a stark reminder that we still have a long way to go.


Thinky Grade: A



Is gaming the most undervalued creative influence of them all? (Creative Review)

We’ve shared articles on the influence of gaming, and the gaming industry as a whole, in past Thinkies. As its pervasiveness continues to grow, there’s so much to consider about how gaming is changing the landscape of marketing, creativity, and even storytelling. If this is where a new generation is turning for self-expression, for discovery, for entertainment, for community, how can we as marketers and NPOs do a better job of understanding the landscape?


Restoring Faith in Humanity


The Empowerment Plan – Hiring Detroit’s homeless residents, and teaching them how to make coats for others on the streets (CNN)

“These are not your typical coats. They transform into storage totes and full-length sleeping bags to protect against frostbite or death.  But the most impressive transformation happens behind the scenes, where the coat-making program has helped 100% of its homeless workers afford their own homes within months.”


What an incredible org. Their impact is tangible, and twofold, and transformative. The CEO was inspired as a student at the College for Creative Studies, when she was given an assignment to “design a project that fulfills a need for the community.” She didn’t assume to know what the community needed, so she did some research, created a prototype that she thought would solve a need (warmth for people on the streets), then went into homeless shelters for feedback–and it turned out that yes, while the homeless need warmth, what they need even more is a JOB–so that they can break out of the pattern of homlessness for good. So the organization she created isn’t just solving a symptom of homlessness by making coats, it’s solving a root cause by giving people jobs to get back on their feet.


Thinky Grade: A+


There’s so much more to talk about when it comes to effectiveness and measurement…but that’s a post for another day. Thanks for reading today’s Thinky. See you next week!

PS: If any of the above made your wheels spin, we’d love to hear your thoughts–get in touch with us!

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