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Helping people to reduce emissions

Consumer behaviour is a vital part of addressing climate change – so we’re creating opportunities for people to reduce their emissions by providing innovative products.

Laundry spilling out of washing machine

Creating opportunities to cut emissions

If we can offer people products they want to buy while also helping them to cut their emissions, we have a 'win–win' situation: growing our market share while reducing our overall GHG footprint. And the potential is huge: two thirds of our total GHG footprint is caused by consumers heating water to wash or clean clothes using our products.

Encouraging people to change their habits is challenging, but it’s an important opportunity to reduce GHG emissions, especially when supported by innovation and better product design.

We’re reaching people in three main ways:

  • Developing new products, such as dry shampoos or ‘quick wash’ laundry detergents, which change how people use products
  • Communicating better habits to consumers on product packs, in stores and online; and
  • Working with retailers, industry bodies and other partners to inspire people to take small actions that make a big difference.

WaterSavers: children leading the way on energy use

If we don’t take action against climate change, the impacts will be felt by future generations as well as our own. So who better to lead the way on changing behaviour than children?

Our WaterSavers initiative works with schools and football/soccer clubs, partnering with businesses and NGOs in the Netherlands to build awareness among young people of how changing behaviour – in particular, taking shorter showers – can make a real difference to GHG emissions.

WaterSavers has reached over 83,000 children in over 1,100 schools since it began in 2013. The initiative provides students with the information they need to encourage those around them to take five-minute showers, using our Five Levers for Change (PDF | 4MB) behaviour change methodology to tackle long-term habits. Following our partnership with Young Crowds, specialists in educational content, an additional 890 school classes signed up for the 2017–2018 WaterSavers school programme. In 2017, our WaterSavers programme won the European AIM Nudging for Good Excellence Award.

On National WaterSavers Day, 3 November 2017, we announced that we had reached over 430,000 people so far with our Deal of 5 Billion, which aims to get 600,000 people to pledge to take five minutes or less in the shower, a commitment which would translate into saving 5 billion litres of hot water. In 2017 we extended our target to saving 10 billion litres of hot water.

Nonetheless, we know measuring behaviour change can be difficult, particularly in the long term. To help us capture the true long-term impact of the programme, we’re collaborating with university behaviour science departments to develop more robust methods of measuring behaviour change. And while we cannot link it directly to WaterSavers, we're encouraged that the most recent three year water usage study of the Dutch water sector organisation, Vewin, shows an 8% decrease in average shower times in the Netherlands, from 9.1 minutes to 8.4 minutes. Although there’s still a long way to go, it’s clear that progress can be made.

Breakthroughs that help people cut their GHG impacts

Our compressed deodorants for our Sure, Dove and Vaseline brands are a breakthrough innovation. Launched in 2013, they offer people the same deodorant protection but with 50% less gas and 25% less packaging, cutting the carbon footprint per can by approximately 25%. We have invited all manufacturers to use compressed technology in their own aerosols and have provided a detailed ‘how to’ guide to help them.

Our dry shampoos are another of our innovations that help people cut their GHG emissions. Compared to washing hair with shampoo in heated water, using dry shampoo reduces GHG emissions by approximately 85%. It allows women to refresh hair between washes, saving time and extending the period that their style lasts.

The market for dry shampoos is also growing. In 2017, we sold our dry shampoos in ten countries under nine brands, including Dove, TRESemmé, Suave, TiGi, Sunsilk and VO5.

Persil encourages consumers to use quicker wash

Helping people to adopt laundry habits that cut their GHG emissions, such as correct dosing, washing at 30 degrees, washing a full load and using shorter wash cycles, can make a big difference. In Europe alone, if all 26 billion washes made by people each year moved from a two-hour standard cycle to a 30 minute wash, it would save 40 billion hours of machine time, reducing energy use by around 30%.

Most washing machines in Europe and Turkey now offer a more energy efficient quick wash cycle, as well as a lower temperature option. In 2009, we launched Persil Small & Mighty, which guarantees faster stain removal and impeccable cleaning when using the quicker wash option.

The brand has been encouraging consumers to shorten their washing machine cycles and has found that the number of consumers using quick cycles has increased, along with an understanding of the environmental benefits. In 2014 in the UK, for example, one in four consumers claimed to use a quick wash, and six in ten claimed to apply energy saving economy or quick wash settings.

Working with retailers to encourage change

One of our best opportunities to encourage people to switch to products that have a lower environmental impact is when they are shopping. Providing people with information on the environmental impact of products helps them make more informed decisions about what they buy.

For example, in partnership with leading retailer Walmart, we have our ongoing initiative, ‘Sumate al EcoLavado’ (Join us at Ecowash), in Argentina.The partnership aims to educate consumers on the environmental benefits of products from our Skip and Omo brands, which clean well at lower temperatures and require shorter wash cycles to help people to cut their energy use.

A leading role in industry bodies

We take a leadership role in industry programmes to influence consumer behaviour. For example, we work with the International Association for Soaps, Detergents and Maintenance Products (AISE) – the detergents industry representative body. We support their Cleanright initiative (formerly Washright), which provides sustainability advice for household cleaning products. And in 2017, we signed up to PREP-L2 (Second AISE Product Resource Efficiency Project for Laundry Liquid Detergents), which aims both to reduce the environmental impact of laundry detergents and to encourage consumers to use them more sustainably.

We support AISE’s Charter for Sustainable Cleaning, which requires annual reporting on key sustainability performance indicators. It also certifies products that meet specific sustainability criteria across the industry. Since 2013, we have also supported AISE’s ‘I prefer 30°’ campaign in the UK, Denmark France, and Belgium.

Alongside this work, we are also contributing to the Product Environmental Footprint project of the EU Commission, which aims to provide consumers with relevant environmental information about products based on their full life-cycle.

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