Corporate Partnerships

Activating Purpose: Reflecting on Sustainable Brands

By Jodi Spethman | June 23, 2016

Last week, I joined a large number of sustainable business leaders who attended the 2016 Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego, California. Our President, Dan Lambe, and Corporate Partnerships colleague, Amy Ossian, attended as well.

Our relationships with our corporate partners are vital to helping us pursue our mission of inspiring people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees. At the conference, we had a booth to meet new colleagues, raise awareness of our mission, and talk about the critical work we do.

We attended numerous sessions and met with partners to better understand their purpose and social responsibility goals so that we can establish meaningful partnerships—partnerships that can make a difference in protecting biodiversity, reversing climate change, cleaning our waterways, and improving our urban communities through tree planting.

SB conference

Aaron Stash, Manager of Environmental Strategy and Sustainability at United Airlines, poses for a photo at the Arbor Day Foundation booth.

Sustainable Brands is celebrating their 10 year anniversary of bringing business, marketing, innovation, and sustainability professionals from all over the world together and empowering brands to pave the way to a more sustainable world. Approximately 2,000 people attended this annual conference with more than 240 speakers from leading brands across the globe. The theme this year was “Activating Purpose” with the goal of helping brand leaders and their partners move from the understanding of purpose driven brand leadership to learning how to put their purpose into action.

One of the most compelling speakers of the week was Janine Benyus—Partner and Co-Founder of Biomimicry 3.8. Biomimicry is the idea of creating nature-inspired designs to solve human problems. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies emulated by nature that are more sustainable in the long run, such as a solar cell inspired by a leaf. She stressed that we need to use nature to reverse – not mitigate – climate change.

Businesses are evolving and millennials are helping drive this change. The most well-known brands are becoming socially and environmentally conscious and you can see this with their business practices. In a June 2016 study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it states “Purpose is not an initiative; it is a way of business. It must be core to the decisions, conversations, and behaviors across all levels to be authentic and deliver the wealth of advantages it promises. Now, more than ever, companies must cultivate the power of purpose if they are to succeed in a world where the opportunities—and responsibilities—of business have never been greater.”

Learn how your company can work with us towards a more sustainable world by visiting

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1 Comment

  • Reply Kevin Olsen July 17, 2016 at 8:26 am

    I have always thought that businesses should take note and be more aware of what affect the business has on nature. Even simply cutting down a couple acres to build. In 1816 Indiana had 20,000,000 acres of trees. Today Indiana has less than 2,000,000.

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