Motivating millions to live sustainably

Unilever is launching a new initiative to motivate millions of people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

Making sustainability desirable

Called Project Sunlight, the initiative aims to make sustainable living desirable and achievable by inspiring people to look at the possibilities of a world where everyone lives well and within the natural limits of the planet.

Project Sunlight was launched on 20 November 2013, Universal Children’s Day, in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the UK and the USA.

It is designed to appeal to people everywhere, and in particular parents, encouraging them to join what Unilever sees as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations.

Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed explains: “Project Sunlight aims to galvanise and build momentum behind a movement that our research and experience show is already happening.

“We know people all over the world want to adopt more sustainable behaviours, but need these to be easy and to fit with the way they live their lives. As a global consumer goods company, we have the means to help people realise this ambition. We have extensive experience and research into what drives – and what limits – mass behaviour change. From this we know that parenthood creates a profound shift in people’s view of the world and what the changes that are forecast will mean for the lives of their children.”

See, act, join

Keith adds: “In the first stage of Project Sunlight, we are inviting people to take three simple actions.

“We want to help people see a brighter future; in order to do this, we are inviting people to watch a film online which aims to inspire and motivate people.

“We want to encourage them to act by doing small things which, added together, contribute to a better society and environment.

“Ultimately, we want people to join the movement and become part of a growing community of like-minded people and organisations who all want to play their part in building a brighter future.”

Helping two million children

To mark the launch of Project Sunlight, for the first two million views of the film, a donation will be made to one of the three Unilever Foundation partners – Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

This act alone will help up to two million children, providing school meals through the World Food Programme; clean, safe drinking water through Save the Children; and hygiene through UNICEF.

The film, especially commissioned by Unilever and directed by Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris, will inspire people to see the future in a more positive and optimistic way.

Project Sunlight will initially live in an online hub – www.brightfuture.unilever.com – which brings together the social mission stories of Unilever’s brands across the world, and shows consumers how getting involved in various activities can help them make small changes in their everyday routine and aim for a more sustainable lifestyle.

The brand programmes featured include:

  • Lifebuoy soap - helps protect millions of children in Asia, Africa and Latin America from diarrhoeal disease, which kills two million children under five each year
  • Dove - which helps girls across the world improve their self-esteem
  • Omo, Persil and Surf - detergents that help families cut their utility bills and CO2 emissions
  • Comfort One Rinse - a fabric conditioner that helps families in water-scarce countries in Asia reduce their water use
  • Lipton, Magnum and Knorr - their sustainably grown ingredients help smallholder farmers to improve their agricultural practices and also their livelihoods.

Children key to sustainable lifestyle

Project Sunlight has been informed by the wealth of Unilever’s consumer insight, including a new international piece of research commissioned by Unilever.

This shows that children are key to motivating adults to want to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and a powerful influence on parents changing their behaviour.

Nine out of ten parents say children’s natural optimism and enthusiasm inspires them to make the world a better place, and seven out of ten parents say their main motivation for wanting to live in a greener way is their children’s future.

The research also shows that there are key child-related moments, particularly around the birth of a first child, when people are more open to changes in their behaviours and lifestyles.

Keith Weed adds: “We chose the name Sunlight as a tribute to our founder William Lever, whose audacious vision 130 years ago to ‘make cleanliness commonplace’ with Sunlight soap inspired Unilever’s equally ambitious purpose today: to make sustainable living commonplace.

“Sunlight also reflects the sense of possibility and optimism which characterises Unilever’s approach. We believe that large companies like ours have to be part of the solution to the problems the world is facing. Adopting sustainable lifestyles and people using their purchasing power to make consumption choices that are good for them and good for the world are important factors in the drive to reducing social inequality and averting the worst climate change predictions – to make sustainable living commonplace.”

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