It’s no secret; marketers are driven by the satisfaction of when the product we are promoting sells.

But how often do we pause to consider the impact that product is having on the world - the people, the wildlife and the environment around us?

Corporate social responsibility: using marketing for good

Sure, we are all aware of how we need to be mindful about the packaging we use and how it is disposed of, and there is an ever increasing amount of products across many categories that now provide natural and organic, fair trade and sustainably produced alternatives.

We may feel that because of the plethora of eco-friendly products at our fingertips that the issue has been addressed, but in terms of taking care of the environment, our journey has only begun.

Corporate social responsibility isn’t a choice, it’s a necessity. In my position as a marketer, I need invest in ideas that will foster the future of the environment; ignoring them is not an option.

Corporate responsibility involves committed action, not just a series of words.

Unfortunately, both marketers and consumers unwittingly contribute to one of the biggest environmental threats facing our planet today - unsustainable palm oil production.

Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil on earth, found in around half of our household products including baked goods, confectionery, shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning agents, washing detergents and toothpaste.

Around 85% of all palm oil is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia contributing to deforestation, animal cruelty and indigenous rights abuses. Deforestation for palm oil production is also a major contributor to climate change and is leading to the extinction to some key animal species in just a few years time if we don’t do something about it now.

Over 90% of Orangutan habitat has been destroyed in the last 20 years, and in the past 10 years the population has decreased by 50 percent in the wild, much of this due to palm oil production.

As such, it is considered “a conservation emergency” by the UN and given we share 96.4% of our genetic makeup with the Orangutan, imagine the implications for the human race should one of our closest relatives become extinct?

So what can we do as marketers and consumers to help?

Awareness of the issue and action to ensure we move to using sustainably produced palm oil is the key. A growing number of companies have signed up to the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) but it is up to us to ensure all companies using this vegetable oil take action as soon as possible.

A friend of mine is working on the awareness side of things and has just launched a crowd funding campaign to fund the production of a TV documentary: Trans Borneo Challenge – The Battle to Save the Orangutans, which will see her journey over 900km across Borneo over 23 days in late August.

Her name is Lara Shannon, Founder of the eco-lifestyle blog A long time environmental campaigner (and yes marketer) she is seeking to create a compelling film that people can connect to and feel empowered to create change, rather than just doom and gloom.

The documentary will educate and empower the viewer to take individual action against unsustainable palm oil production and other threats, raise funds for leading orangutan conservation group, The Orangutan Project, and help put an end to one of the biggest environmental crimes threatening our planet at this time.

The more funds she raises, the bigger the awareness campaign and the more impact we can have.

If you want to be part of this journey and contribute to change you can make a donation (or become a corporate sponsor) by visiting this site.

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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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