From a day to a full month, more retailers are celebrating Earth Month with vocal communications, sustainability initiatives and collaborations with non-profit organizations. 

As the climate emergency accelerates, fashion brands have ramped up their sustainability messaging year-round. Customer emails mentioning the topic in 2021 increased by 32% YoY and 84% since 2019. However, coinciding with Earth Month, April is still the peak time retailers talk about all things eco. As this year’s event looms, find out the key themes promoted last April and how the industry can prepare itself for this one.

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Product & Promotional Opportunities

Avoid capsule collections

With overproduction key in fashion’s contribution to the climate crisis, retailers will want to steer clear of manufacturing collections specifically for the event. Instead, promote a curated edit of products already in stock. As more retailers convert their ranges to be more eco-friendly, they can call out the components of these items in customer emails. Also fitting the brief, draw attention to quality and timeless styles, as demonstrated by Levi’s 2021 campaign promoting “buy less, buy better.”

Year-round communication

Retailers need to keep up the momentum of “Earth Day is every day” by being consistently transparent about their goals instead of waiting until April to drop dense sustainability manifestos. In the lead-up to its Responsibility Report in April, Ganni shared sustainable milestones in a social media campaign “21 things we did for the first time in 2021.” Bedding brand Parachute has outlined several short- and long-term commitments, including being certified carbon neutral by Earth Day.

 

Give back

Discounts can tarnish consumer perception, making products appear more disposable. Instead, look to allocate a proportion of sales to a charity. In 2021, land and water charities like One Tree Planted and Oceana were popular. Extend this to supporting communities directly impacted by climate change or nonprofits fighting for social and environmental justice, like Clean Clothes Campaigns, Environmental Justice Foundation and League of Conservation. Do your research and collaborate with an organization that aligns with your brand’s goals and values.

Education opportunities

Retailers can use Earth Month communications to pass on knowledge and skills to increase the lifespan of a product. To help customers alter their habits for more sustainable shopping and living, use your brand’s social media channels or email campaigns share simple changes people can make. On a larger scale, explore virtual or in-person events or workshops to promote clothing care, repair and customization.

L-R: Instagram – GANNI LAB, Uniqlo Email US – Apr 22, 2021, Carhartt Email US – Jan 20, 2022

 

2021 key takeaways

• Email mentions of “Earth Day,” “Earth Week,” “Earth Month” or “Fashion Revolution Week” were up 42% and featured at 32% more retailers YoY.

• “Earth Day/Month is every day” was a core theme underpinning retailers’ promotions by sharing small steps on eco living and shopping as well as communicating company milestones and future endeavors.

• Though an event not traditionally associated with discounting, H&M offered membership points to shop its conscious range. Otherwise, allocating a proportion of sales to a charity was popular, especially with COVID ushering in the kindness economy. Offsetting emissions by planting trees was favored by Cult Gaia, Levi’s, Hunter and more.

• The first email in 2021 was a week earlier than in 2020 on March 21st. With sustainability becoming more embedded in retailers’ everyday products and processes, we can expect Earth Month communications to blur into promotional calendars year round.

Stand-out stories

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L-R: Outerknown Email US – Apr 22, 2021; H&M Email UK – Apr 22, 2021; Allbirds Email UK – Apr 22, 2021 

 

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L-R: Levi’s Email UK – Apr 22, 2021; Universal Standard Email US – Apr 22, 2021; House of Sunny Email – Apr 21, 2021

 

Major themes

Virtual events

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L-R: Tommy Hilfiger US Email – Apr 21, 2021; The RealReal Email US – Apr 16, 2021

 

earth month earth month 

L-R: Folklore Email US – Apr 22, 2021; Coggles Email UK – Apr 22, 2021

 

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L-R: Poshmark Email US – Apr 17, 2021; West Elm Email US – Apr 22, 2021

 

Progress updates

earth month earth month 

L-R: Madewell Email US – Apr 22, 2021; AXEL ARIGATO Email UK Apr 22, 2021

 

Fashion Revolution Week

earth month earth month 

L-R: The Sleep Shirt Email US – Apr 20, 2021; Lara Intimates Email UK – Apr 22, 2021

 

Natural materials

earth month earth month 

L-R: Esprit UK Email – Apr 21, 2021; Hanna Andersson Email US – Apr 15, 2021

 

Zero waste

earth month earth month 

L-R: Ganni Email UK – Apr 22, 2021; Nordstrom US Email – Apr 21, 2021

 

Giveaways & competitions

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L-R: Naadam Email US – Apr 15, 2021; Triarchy Email US – Apr 21, 2021

Giving back

World Land Trust

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L-R: Hunter Email UK – Apr 22, 2021; Mint Velvet Email UK – Apr 20, 2021

 

Tree People & One Tree Planted

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L-R: Cult Gaia Email US – Apr 22, 2021; Bodega US – Apr 20, 2021

 

Plant for the planet & South Downs National Park

earth month earth month 

L-R: La Coqueta Email UK – Apr 22, 2021; Aspinal of London Email UK – Apr 22, 2021

 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation & Nature Is A Human Right

earth month earth month 

L-R: Frame Email US – Apr 22, 2021; Selfridges Email UK – Apr 22, 2021

 

Clerb & Friends Of The LA River

earth month earth month 

L-R: Lisa Says Gah Email US – Apr 16, 2021; PacSun Email US – Apr 22, 2021

 

Captains for Clean Water & Fashion Makes Change

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L-R: Columbia Email US – Apr 22, 2021; Hudson Jeans Email US – Apr 22, 2021

 

Surfrider Foundation & Sierra Club

earth month earth month

L-R: American Eagle Outfitters US Email – Apr 22, 2021; Marine Layer Email US – Apr 18, 2021

 

American Forests & Oceana

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L-R: Joules US Email – Apr 22, 2021; Nautica US Email – Apr 22, 2021

 

Timing

The first email in 2021 was a week earlier than in 2020. On March 21st, Carbon38 promoted earth tone activewear with the caption “Every day is Earth Day in these colors.”

Earth Day, April 22nd, remained the most popular date for emails across the US and UK, followed by the 20th and 21st. The earlier date offers scope to include communications around 420 and celebrating cannabis culture. However, with intersectional environmentalism in mind, retailers need to be conscious of capitalizing on the event while Black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people.

As the pressure intensifies for retailers to overhaul products and processes to become more ethical and environmentally friendly, Earth Month promotions will not only become more frequent – timings will blur. With more eco events on the horizon and retailers wanting to live up to their “Earth Day/Month is every day” catchcry, promoting sustainability efforts year-round will combat being perceived as performative.

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Thred Email UK – Apr 21, 2021

 

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