Ever wonder if that machine in the doctor’s office testing your child’s “perfect” hearing is an empty box? It’s not always easy to get kids to listen, much less learn, what we want them to. But amidst the cacophony of green messages, companies are finding creative ways to teach sustainability through product offerings, and likely building a young customer base in the process.

Of Mice & Maids . . . and Björk?

Move over John Steinbeck. From Mickey Mouse’s teaching of the three “Rs” (i.e., “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”), to Dora’s saving the mermaids from a garbage-polluted ocean, companies are spreading the word on the environment and sustainability through books, music, apps, and more. And it’s not required to have the multi-billion dollar valuations of a Disney or Viacom to make an impact with younger generations. Even after a withdrawn Kickstarter campaign, alternative rocker, Björk, has managed to get her “Biophilia” curriculum, a technology, music-based, science/environmental program, in schools throughout Europe and the U.S.1 So, don’t be surprised if your 8-15 year old suddenly has more experience with a Tesla (at least with its coils) than you do!

“…great collaboration with Bjork and her team. Together, we gave 60 middle schoolers from Queens and Manhattan…a behind the scenes look at Tesla coils, pendulum harps, and other instruments….”2

But Does It Really Sink In—Teaching Sustainability on That Not So Indifferent Curve?

Fast forward a few years from the primary and middle school set. Now, imagine your freshmen Economics class, multiply it by 40 or 50 times, and then, make it a classroom—only it’s a concert at Jones Beach— where 15,000 teenagers, young adults (and the rest of us) are gathered. And they still may not listen to you—not just because the music is so loud—but they do listen to bands like Fall Out Boy. And when Pete Wentz, lead singer, tells them “It’s so rad that the entire concert tour is carbon neutral thanks to companies like LiveNation and Just Energy,” it does, indeed, “Light ‘Em Up,” and promote awareness about the companies making sustainability happen at a very impressionable time in their lives.

Serving Up Sustainability Along the Supply Chain

Measure, Manage, and Mitigate. “When LiveNation wanted to do more with sustainable touring logistics, they came to UPS.”3 In May 2011, LiveNation teamed up with UPS to reach out to millions of concert goers by offsetting CO2 impacts from shipping concert tickets, as well as reducing emissions associated with band concert transport logistics.4 In March 2013, LiveNation expanded its commitment, agreeing to have 85 concert venues audited by JustGreen Lifestyle, a subsidiary of Just Energy, a diversified energy company, who recently acquired Terrapass. With the goal of offsetting carbon footprints at 4,000 concerts, the companies estimate this is equivalent to eliminating 55,000 tons of carbon, or removing 11,000 vehicles from the road, annually.  And their goal continues to be to educate the fan base: “We are collaborating on environmental education and promotions for fans, including a calculator to green concert commutes, enabling fans to… and offset carbon footprint.”5

The Way to Millions of Fans’ Hearts and Wallets via Their Stomachs?

With teenagers spending 14x what adults spend on food, and more than double on entertainment, concerts and video games, the answer seems to be YES.6 Although good food is not typically paired with concert venues, LiveNation is committed to providing and educating customers about sustainable choices as it serves up 800,000 meals every summer. In August 2013, LiveNation announced it would introduce locally grown produce and vegetarian meals, and have all meat products certified by the U.S. Humane Society regarding animal welfare in 38 of its concert theatres.7 “I know in my own home it’s important… We know from working closely with the artist community and from fans that it’s important to many of them as well.”— Michael Rapino, CEO of LiveNation

No More Pencils, No More Books. School’s Not Out for the Summer When it Comes to Sustainability!

And while it may be hard to teach old dogs new tricks, some companies are having good luck with the puppies who—whether by stories, songs, or their stomachs—are being educated about sustainability, and becoming leading indicators of what the future holds in terms of people, planet, and profits.

 

Cindy Motz, a member of the Global Advisory Council at Cornerstone Capital, is a Financial Services Consultant and former II & WSJ All Star Analyst

 

1 Priscilla Frank, “Bjork’s ‘Biophilia’ Curriculum Will be Adopted by European Schools,” Huffington Post, 6/19/14.
2 Dan Wempe, New York Hall of Science, http://biophiliaeducational.org/press-section/quotes/
3 Sunny Nastase, UPS Customer Solutions, http://pressroom.ups.com
4 Jonathan Bardelline, “UPS Rocks Fuel Efficiency with Live Nation Partnership,” Green Biz.com, May 25, 2011.
5 PRNewswire, LiveNation, March 16, 2013,
6 Derek Thompson, “How Teenagers Spend Money,” The Atlantic, April 12, 2013.
7 Phil Lempert, “Live Music and Local Food: LiveNation,” Supermarket Guru, August 6, 2013.