Not just a marketing gimmick: Earth Day launch campaigns deserve attention

Earth Day, which takes place on April 22 each year, began in 1970 as a celebration organized by environmental activists. 51 years later, this annual awareness day now has a decidedly corporate flavor.

As businesses large and small seize this annual opportunity to whip up products (and even whitewash reputations), has Earth Day become another marketing moment?

Not yet. Amid the sea of ​​social media wellness activities and eco-friendly fashion collections, some startups are joining forces to push the climate conversation forward as part of their Earth Day strategy.

The best Earth Day campaigns involve taking collective action and calling for bigger changes than a single organization can create alone.

“[Startups need to] collaborate on climate-related topics,” says Philippe Singer, co-founder of the nonprofit Leaders For Climate Action. “For many technology companies, the impact that can be achieved by reducing their own carbon emissions is often limited.”

Here are eight Earth Day kick-off campaigns worth paying attention to.

Leaders for Climate Action

More than 200 tech companies across Europe – from eco-search engine Ecosia and carpooling startup BlaBlaCar, to big names like Spotify – have joined forces to make it easier for their users to take positive action for the climate.

The campaign, titled Time For Climate Action, is led by the non-profit Leaders for Climate Action and encourages participating companies to commit to developing “green” product features.

Details of who does what can be found on the Time For Climate Action gate — which is also a useful resource for anyone interested in learning about the environmental commitments of startups across Europe.


Swiss carbon capture firm Climeworks has encouraged people to sign up for its carbon dioxide removal service (which costs €7 per month to remove 85kg of CO₂ from the air per year), creating 8,000 “pioneer” memberships, which allow subscribers to give up to 12 friends a free three-month subscription.

At the time of publication, Climeworks had moved 5,630 out of 8,000 memberships through this offer, which closed at midnight on April 22, meaning it has pledged to remove up to 5.7 million kg of CO₂ on behalf of trial customers.

Climeworks launched its subscription service in 2019 as part of a generate additional revenue to help it scale its super expensive carbon capture technology. Climeworks has since signed contracts with Stripe and Microsoft, which will help it reduce the cost of its technology.


Jose Neves, founder of Farfetch

Luxury fashion e-commerce platform Farfetch today released a new report looking at how luxury consumers who use its platform buy fashion with sustainability in mind.

The report includes some interesting highlights, such as that Mexico is experiencing the fastest growth in conscious shopping worldwide, and that eco-friendly clothing products are now flying off the virtual shelves of Farfetch 3, 4 times faster than the average in its market.

Company Says Conscious Luxury Trends Report is to become an annual feature. It also updated the “fashion footprint” tool on its website to help consumers compare the impact of used and new clothes sold on the platform.


What does it mean when Aramco talks about a sustainable future? How serious is BP on green energy?

On Monday, environmental law charity ClientEarth launched “The Greenwashing Files”, an investigation into the practices of some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies. The campaign was produced in response to oil and gas giants increasingly relying on sustainability as a marketing strategy – including pay social media influencers get the message out — while making little or no progress on ending fossil fuel production.

The mission of the 13-year-old charity, which has offices across Europe and China, is to make it easier to bring environmental cases to court. She is currently suing the National Bank of Belgium for “fueling the climate crisis”.

Plan A

Photo by Lubomila Jordanova, Plan A
Lubomila Jordanova, co-founder of PlanA.Earth

Berlin-based carbon accounting platform PlanA.Earth has launched a petition calling on the European Commission to bring more transparency to the world of sustainable business by further defining and regulating greenwashing.

The ‘End Greenwashing’ campaign calls on companies claiming to be climate neutral to publicly share their carbon footprint. This comes amid a recent study showing that just 15% of listed companies are currently disclosing their carbon emissions.

According to PlanA, 89% of professionals believe that there is not enough regulation against greenwashing and 80% of consumers feel misled by sustainable communication.

tree points

The five-month-old tree planting subscription service ran two campaigns throughout April for Earth Day.

First, it partnered with seven companies, including recipe box startup Mindful Chef and reusable bottle startup Ocean Bottle to encourage the use of sustainable products, via Instagram giveaways.

On the B2B side, it doubles the impact of the carbon offset projects and tree planting initiatives it offers to companies that want to offset their emissions.

Treepoints was launched in November 2020 and uses a points-based system to incentivize people to purchase carbon offsets. Points can be spent on products and services at environmentally conscious businesses.


Swedish battery performance monitoring startup Nortical is launching an open consortium for companies and universities to gain knowledge on the subject of battery recycling.

Nortical hopes the initiative will allow new ideas on second-life batteries to surface, which will help drive technical and business development and solve challenges in the wider energy sector. Specifically, it will stimulate interest in energy storage systems, contribute to the circular battery value chain and the development of more efficient battery technology.

Monitor mobility

The founders of Surve Mobility.
The founders of Surve Mobility

This German shared mobility startup launched Urban sustainabilitya collective of mobility companies with a common vision: to make cities greener.

Urban Sustainability members can attend quarterly meetings to seek learning opportunities, share knowledge and participate in projects around sustainable mobility. Early members include battery sharing service Swobee and mobility spending company Mobiko.

Sarah Drumm and Connor Bilboe are co-authors of our new sustainability-focused Sustain newsletter. You can register here. Sarah and Connor can be found tweeting at @sarah_drumm and @connorbilboe.

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