The False Hope of Zero Waste and How to Use Its Power to Create Strong Brands in Waste Management
As Tolkien wrote in his Epic Novel “The Children of Húrin” false hopes are more dangerous than fears and they will not keep us warm this winter” what we are seeing in waste management is something incredible.
In fact, if you open the newspaper or watch the tv shows a lot of people talk about the problem of waste, creating false hopes about zero waste goal.
Below, you can easily see what I found today searching on Google News with the keyword “zero waste”.
Tons of ideas disconnected with reality.
But what is terrible is that there are a lot of organizations, typically political, that are sustaining these wrong ideas about the possibility of achieving zero waste.
I don’t want to make controversy about that but, as in my role, I want to show you how to use these misconceptions to your advantage.
This is because what they are doing is the creation of false hopes.
For that reason let me explain, first of all, what hopes are and how they work on our mind.
Hope is one of the greatest motivators for purchases, for choices and for changes. A woman buys a new face cream that offers the hope it will make a difference in her wrinkles. A runner purchases a new pair of running shoes because they are lighter and they offer him the possibility to be faster. A family decides to avoid the use of plastic because in that mode they contribute to the zero waste goal.
In short hopes are expectations of something desired.
What moves people to expectations?
Usually the implied possibility that the use of a product, the use of a service, the reduction of the consumption of a good, will provide a better future.
Better future for themselves and for their relatives.
But we know that the future benefit is not assured, nor is it guaranteed.
It’s a dream, a possibility and, as in the case of the zero waste idea, it is a fantasy.
If you think about the examples that I mentioned above, the woman that purchases the face cream to look younger hopes that her wrinkles will reduce but in most cases doesn’t obtain the result because there are a lot of factors where the cream doesn’t act. Like stress at work, sun, nutrition and more.
Now take a look at the idea of the runner that purchasing the running shoes thinks to achieve the results of his teammate that uses the same shoes. He thinks that the shoes will make the difference and, probably they can offer a better grip or a valid support, but probably training (mind and body) is the most important factor to consider to change the results.
Watch the family that decides to avoid plastics in its home. It decides to use only paper bags, to avoid packaged foods and to drink the water that flows from its tap. At the same time it continues to purchase pile jackets to win the cold winter where it lives, to use sunglasses with plastic lenses, and more and more.
The most correct solution will be to follow the right disposal process for all the waste and to try to recycle the largest amount of waste produced.
I showed you these examples because as you can easily imagine, everything starts from desires.
Even the idea of Zero Waste touches the desires of people promoting the hope of a better future for the next generations and leaving them our planet in better conditions.
The hope of a planet in better conditions for our children and the children of our children touches all of us.
And the organizations that created the message ZeroWaste know that very well.
For that reason to achieve the goal they touched one of the most diffused desires: the conservation of the species.
It’s something natural in our brains and it’s connected with the sense of protection that we offer to our children when they fall or when they are about to make a mistake.
Anyway it works better if behind this stimulus there is the credibility of the people that invite you or that offers you the product or the service.
Following the examples above mentioned, you can easily understand that if Cate Blanchet talks about the advantages of an anti-age cream, women find credibility in the product.
If Usain Bolt said that his new shoes are lighter than the previous ones, the runner thinks that he will be faster thanks to the same shoes of Usain.
But what happens about waste?
No one nowadays is demonstrating results about the ZeroWaste idea.
The only thing that they are doing is the use of actors, politicians, influencers to support the idea like for a cream or for a pair of shoes.
They are using their credibility to support an idea taking an advantage for themselves, in terms of visibility.
No one is showing results in that.
That’s the point.
Or better that’s the strike angle.
Indeed if you are a waste manager or the owner of a waste company you have to use this “gap” to create the real difference.
Creating a powerful personal brand and using the power of your company brand. I know that is something not diffused in waste management but if you think about your company, probably, its brand is known in your city or in your country because in the past 10-20-30 years it supported communities in waste collection.
Going in depth, people know your brand for what your company is doing but to support you they need to know what you are doing with the waste that you collect from their houses, their businesses, etc.
And here there is the importance of the creation of credibility.
In fact if you present yourself and your company as a credible person representing a credible company, then what you say will elicit a feeling of confidence on the part of the people.
And believe me you’re more authoritative than actors and politicians that are talking about Zero Waste. The only fact is that you are not using your power.
In fact no one knows you as an authority in your field.
People know the name of your company but don’t know how many quantities of waste your plants are treating and recycling. People don’t know that thanks to your recycling process you’re saving 10,000 trees a year from being cut down, as an example.
Why don’t people know that?
Because you are no one in front of their eyes.
Because your company is a company that collects waste and, in their minds, is not contributing to solving the waste problem.
And believe me you’re more authoritative than all the people that are talking about the problem in an utopian way.
But to release your power you need to be seen as this authority.
The only way to achieve that is with the power of your brand.
Your personal brand and your company brand.
Two faces of the same coin.
But managed in different ways.
In fact, talking about personal brand, it is the image that people see of you and it’s based on how people look at you in real life, how the media portrays you, and the impression that people gain from the information about you available online and offline.
The power of personal brand is authenticity, that means how your daily life looks in connection with what you do.
In waste management a strong personal brand could be built by highlighting how everything in your life is about recycling. From items purchased to how waste is managed within the home, to how your children engage in waste management at school.
And to do that you need to create visibility on that.
That means the use of social media, local magazines, local newspapers, interviews and all the tools called PR, public relations.
As my teacher Al Ries said “Brands are built with PR”.
But that is a starter point.
In fact I opened this newsletter telling you about the false hope of Zero Waste and how to use it to build your brand.
Yes because to win this challenge you need to talk about the real solutions available and that now are solving the waste problems.
That means that you need to create contrast between the mainstream message and the real solution to a problem created by the mainstream misinformation.
As an example when the article talks about the ZeroWaste idea you can talk about how in your home the old clothes are given to the charity associations, how the organic wastes are put in the compost box to create natural fertilizer for your garden. And telling that you have to affirm that is the only ZeroWaste possibility.
Working in that way you’ll build your authority and your personal brand that will also help the growth of the brand of your company.
In fact, remember that companies are groups of people and usually are the reflection of the habits of the people who are inside.
Let me give you an example.
Do you remember the story of Robin Hood?
In the SherWood forest with Robin there were many other refugees but the main voice was the Robin’s voice. Friar Tuck, Little John and the others were only supporters of Robin.
Robin was the leader of the team as you are the leader of your company
For that reason you need to build first of all your personal brand to support the growth of the brand of your company.
In fact the values represented with your personal brand will also be seen as the value of your company.
That creates credibility and trustability in you and your company.
And the first one amplifies the results of your company brand.
The idea of Zero Waste is offering you one of the greatest opportunities but you need to be able to use it at your advantage.
As an example, the pandemic unattended the idea of zero plastic.
People that were promoting the idea of zero plastic disappeared demonstrating that they don’t really know the problem but that was something mediatic.
If you are in plastic recycling you can promote that the only way to solve the plastic problem is to increase the right segregation of plastics from urban waste and from solid waste. To do that you can start from your daily activities and how they are able to change the plastic problem if promoted on a wide scale.
Doing that you’re taking the hopes of the people that were supporting zero plastic and you are reactivating their dreams about a better future, a life where the animals do not suffer for our waste and more and more.
This will be possible thanks to your brand.
As I mentioned initially, false hopes are giving you an opportunity to increase your positive impact on our planet and to pass from being the waste collector to becoming the Rescuer of our Planet.
If you want to become the Rescuer of our planet check out our Masterclass by registering by following this link. You can also follow our social media pages to find out more.
Samuele Barrili is the founder of Marketing Interim Managers. After his degree in Toxicological Chemistry focused on Environmental Pollution he started working in the industrial field as a salesman and later as a marketing manager. For over 10 years he worked with the owners of small and big technical companies. Now Samuele is helping waste management companies to create a marketing strategy that saves the planet by increasing their revenue without wasting time.