Sustainability is no longer an optional focus for brands, it is now a necessity to stay competitive. Consumers expect brands to place the environment and being “green” as a top priority, just as consumers do in their daily lives. There are recycling cans everywhere, more people choosing hybrid and electric vehicles, solar power has become more accessible and plastic bag bans are in effect in major cities. Green is no longer a trendy thing, it is a way of life.

Many brands have had sustainability programs for years, but communicating these initiatives to consumers has been a challenge. Consumers are skeptical. Corporate sustainability programs can sometimes come across as lacking authenticity, messages are not always clear or lack validation, and often these messages never reach the consumer at all. What better place to communicate sustainability than right on the package that the sits on the store shelf and goes home with the consumer. Put the information in their hands, and make it about what impacts the consumer and the environment.

With so many sustainable packaging options, messages can get cluttered and confusing. Luckily visual cues offer a clearer and more aesthetically appealing way to communicate these messages. Most sustainable packaging options now have a logo that can be printed on packaging, and these logos are becoming more and more recognized by consumers. Some of these sustainable packaging logos also add validation to the claims, and provide the consumer to access information.

One sustainable packaging option that does this is carbon neutral printing by natureOffice. A brand can offset all carbon emissions from the production of their packaging, by purchasing credits to offset these emissions. A logo with a unique certification number can be printed on the packaging. This allows the consumer to look up the certification number on the natureOffice website (which is also included in the logo). They can see exactly how much carbon emissions were offset, which carbon sequestration project these funds are supporting and how this is helping the environment.

You can read more sustainability communications in the BrandPackaging article, “Crossing the Great Divide: Communicating “Green” to Consumers.”

If sustainability is a part of your brand, it should be clearly a part of your packaging as well.