A week ago, United Airlines partnered with Columbia College Chicago Department of Fashion Studies and the Re:new Project to upcycle 20 fabric banners for their previous advertisements. These banners are enjoying their new life, but in a form of durable, fashionable travel bags with United’s “Fly the Friendly Skies” campaign.
Image: United Airline
This got me thinking, do consumer brands have upcycling campaigns, and how effective would they be helping the idea of “upcycling” to gain traction?
Last year, Coca-Cola launched a “2ndlives” campaign in Vietnam as part of their global sustainability program. “2ndlives” is a line of 16 caps that can be screwed onto their plastic bottles and transform them into useful objects, including pencil sharpeners, water guns and paintbrushes.
These 40,000 of these free innovative caps were be distributed with purchases, and the campaign was rolled out in Thailand and Indonesia as well.
The hacking habits of Asians were identified by the chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather China Graham Fink, and they hoped to inspire DIY upcycling among more Asian consumers:
In Asia, traditionally people didn’t like throwing things away, and I’ve seen ingenious things people have made with boxes, jars and all sorts of stuff.
Source: Design Boom
There were backlashes and Coca-Cola subsequently removed all videos for this campaign. Mainly, there were concerns about safety issues with plastic breaking down while filled up with another substance or the fact that they were green-washing their brand: communicating an important issue on the surface and creating more plastic pollution underneath.
Nonetheless, I still consider this campaign to be inspiring us or enabling us to re-think, re-use and upcycle these bottles and get additional utility out of them. To me, this campaign definitely generates good will and attempts to keep waste out of landfills, because the mentality it promotes is also transferable to other items too!
Do you think the campaign helps in raising awareness in upcycling, or is it just another green-washing campaign masked?