With the recent news that some areas of London have already reached their annual air pollution limit for 2017 in just 5 days, the topic of pollution has been on our minds lately. Separate to the effects these pollution levels may have on the planet (and at a time when the incoming US President is known to be a climate change sceptic), concerns have been rising over pollution levels in our cities due to the effects it may be having on us at a personal health level.
The change from environmental awareness on a global level to concern over our local area and our own personal health has been brought into sharp focus by the recent cultural trend of self-monitoring through apps such as ‘London Air’. This app shows us in real time, and down to an individual street level, the invisible pollutants surrounding us. This expression of pollution on a micro scale, and in an easy accessible format, means that people are both more aware, and more concerned about the after-effects of human activity on our environment.
Brands have been aware of the importance of climate change and sustainability for years now, and are better than ever at tapping into consumers’ desire for them to address this in their internal and CSR policies. But when the discussion surrounding pollution becomes more focused on individuals, it also becomes more emotionally charged. People will soon start to expect brands to not only address the effects of climate change on a global level, but also at a local level: ‘what are brands doing to protect me from air pollution?’
Brands who champion a cause through lobbying, CSR and internal practices do a fantastic job, but with an issue such as climate change, it is important for people to be able to take ownership and feel like they are having a positive impact. Apple have already made huge tracks in terms of self-monitoring health apps, but what about an app that measures the air pollution you contribute to per day in easily understood figures? ‘You have created 0.08 tonnes of CO2 today.’ Or more positively; ‘You have saved 1.8 tonnes of CO2 this week.’
To take full advantage of this opportunity, a brand would do well to both highlight air pollution, and also encourage people to make positive changes to their lifestyle to prevent air pollution.