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We need more eco-influencers, by Sara Hamam

see an opportunity for more eco-friendly influencers in MENA to utilize this space on social platforms, writes Sara Hamam, digital marketing freelancer.

How did Covid change your business? Hands down, this was the most popular question in 2020.

The most popular answer was   ..…. can you guess?

Digital transformation, which was true on all accounts. Businesses were quick to set up shop online and operate in the new normal. Covid also accelerated the adoption of sustainability practices amongst businesses as well.

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To be fair, I am not sure if that was a result of the pandemic or these measures were already in the pipeline – whatever it is, it makes me happy to see more organisations embracing and promoting sustainable living.

IKEA has committed to a world without waste and since then has released a thought-provoking ad called, fortune favours the frugal, a zero-waste scrapbook and has committed to removing single-use plastic from its home furnishing range, restaurants and cafes. A few months earlier, Lego announced that it developed its first Lego prototype from recycled bottles. The first step in many, to use less waste and create its core product from recyclable materials by 2030.

Popular retail brands like Mango, H&M and Zara are all wearing their sustainability tags on their sleeves literally.  Garment tags now come with big, bold letters that say, sustainable cotton or made out of recycled materials. Starbucks also went straw-free last year, Aquafina water cans were born and say no to single-use plastic is quickly gaining momentum as a catchphrase and mantra to campaign slogans.

Closer to home, some sustainable brands were also born during the pandemic. Call them brave, but they saw a growing market and a more conscious consumer and so and little more than a year later, they seem to be doing well for themselves. One of these brands is Secret Skin, a sustainability fragrance, hair and skin care product that uses ingredients that are 100 % derived from nature. Five months into their launch, their founder won the Women in Tech award 2021 for her sustainable business idea.

Sustainability tourism also took off in the UAE with many of us hiking in RAK,  kayaking in Fujairah and touring organic farms in Khorfakkan.

This is why Gucci’s partnership with North Face did not come up as a surprise to anyone, the luxury brand saw a lifestyle that people adopted and chose to utilise it, and by doing so created a new retail genre called Glamping.

Schools are also leaning into sustainability. The Arbor School is the first school in Dubai that has eco-literacy as part of its core curriculum across its primary and secondary; their foundation stage classes only use natural resources as teachable materials inside the classroom. How do I know this? Because I spent my Covid gap year supporting the teaching staff across the foundation stage.

Saying this, I see an opportunity for more eco-friendly influencers in MENA to utilize this space on social platforms.

Looking at how eco influencers are faring globally and zooming in to a research study conducted by Russian based agency, Hypeauditor, Greta Thunberg, is considered one of the most influential environmental activists in the world and is almost as insta-famous as Jennifer Aniston.

What’s more, is that the highest engagement range is coming from individuals aged 18 to 34.

This proves that GEN Zers and Millennials want to be agents of change and create lasting impacts on their communities. This shows you that Bill Gates is not the only one interested in climate change. However, these insights are not showing up on google.ae

A quick search for the phrase ‘eco – influencers in the MENA region’ showed a sparse list of headlines, with the top article highlighting ‘10 individuals, that are advocating a better planet.’ Alternatively, a search with the phrase, ‘fashion influencers in MENA’ undeniably shows links with headlines that read ‘Top 1000 fashion influencers” and a much lengthier search result. That doesn’t come as a surprise and it shouldn’t, as fashion will always be in fashion but as climate change takes centre stage globally, we need to follow suit by raising awareness and inciting fast and lasting change across MENA. This can be achieved through the rise of eco – influencers as we need them now more than ever.

Brands must also endorse eco- influencers, as that creates a spiral effect of more content; higher reach; better engagement and can eventually encourage more sustainable content creators to come out of their shells and occupy larger spaces on social platforms. So, to all the current and aspiring eco-warriors out there, your time to shine on social is NOW.

Because the way I see it is, sustainability is not only good business but will be the only way to conduct business moving forward.

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