Products of Change: Bringing the green energy

In the short time since its launch just a few years ago, Products of Change has quickly grown into an international coalition of green-minded experts looking to encourage sustainable change across the consumer industries in all markets around the globe. The platform’s editor, Robert Hutchins sits down with The Bugg Report to tell us more!

It was at the Sustainability in Licensing Conference (SILC) held only this year, that the international toy company — and one of New Zealand’s fastest growing — Zuru, first unveiled its plans to sustainably overhaul its two largest global brands: Mini Brands and Mini Toys.

Products of Change founder, Helena Mansell-Stopher and Editor, Robert Hutchins attended the launch event for Aqua + Rock’s Covent Garden store this September. The premium brand has been celebrated for pioneering new sustainable measures in high end fashion, with notable achievements that include innovating a bio-circular leather that can be returned to nature as an organic fertiliser once it has reached the end of its life. Aqua + Rock’s founder, Dea Baker has been recognised with a Drapers award for delivering real innovation to an industry working to increase its sustainability measures.

The announcement made headlines across the trade press. A toy company with the might and reach such as Zuru’s was stepping up yet again on the environmental front and removing all virgin plastic from the production of its two world-leading brands.

And the fact that it used the SILC21 conference as the platform upon which to announce the move to the world, well that was a particular feather in the cap for the UK outfit, Products of Change. The driving force behind the SILC banner, Products of Change is a UK-based resource and media hub for the sustainability movement within the consumer products arena. Its workstreams span all corners of the entertainment and licensing business, from video games and sport, to fashion, greetings, and toys — with everything else in between.

Established by its CEO and founder, Helena Mansell-Stopher, the Products of Change platform has quickly grown into a global-reaching coalition of minds and expertise, with tendrils that reach deep into the Canadian, US, European, and now the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Its mission? To inspire and encourage real sustainable change across industries through the provision of resources and access to experts across the fields — from net zero to the circular economy — playing both an advisory and content sharing role in how businesses and individuals can implement the necessary changes to work towards a greener and more prosperous future. And it all arrives during what can be described as an interesting time for the ANZ region and its relationship with the topic of sustainability and climate change. COP26 — the UN Climate Change Action summit held in Glasgow just this month — has been the canvas upon which the obscurity of that relationship has been drawn.

The Products of Change Advisors panel (pictured left to right) is made up of Andrea Green, June Kirkwood, Arthur Parry, and Cathy Teasdale. Andrea Green leads the Advisors panel in the US and joins Kirkwood, Parry, and Teasdale in bringing a wealth of sustainable licensing expertise to the Products of Change platform.

New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, for example, was quick to update the country’s climate targets ahead of the conference, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030, while the Australian government has faced criticism for hosting a fossil fuel company at its own pavilion during the event, evidence that within some parties, the issue has some rather large crinkles left to be ironed out. Thankfully, Products of Change places its attention at the heart of where action can and is being taken, and swiftly — and central to that is the shift in thinking of the local consumer.

“ANZ is seeing a shift in consumption as consumers no longer see sustainability as a ‘nice to have’ and instead as an uncompromisable necessity,” says Amelia Jory, marketing manager at Zuru and one among the team to drive its recent sustainability agenda.

Amelia Jory, Marketing Manager at Zuru

“For many customers, this heavily impacts what they decide to purchase. They do, however, see this responsibility sitting predominantly with businesses and expect more from corporates to ensure they are taking the best measures possible to be more eco-led.”

Amelia Jory, Marketing Manager at Zuru
Products of Change
Pictured above is the Sustainability Activation in partnership with Products of Change, set to take centre stage at Brand Licensing Europe at London’s ExCeL this month. The Activation boasts six zones dedicated to showcasing the latest in innovation from the sustainability space, including activations from UK retailers Tesco and Asda, the Eden Project, The Natural History Museum, Teemill, Newlife Charity and more.

And Zuru is one among them, moving ahead confidently with its sustainable packaging and product strategy, even in the face of the current manufacturing climate, as it strives to make sustainability a ‘key pillar for 2022 and beyond.’

“We are part of a shifting tide in manufacturing and consumer goods, being held more accountable by those younger, more conscious consumers, and we are committed to doing our part,” added Jory. “A key factor in building out these programmes, of course, is making them purposeful, practical, and avoiding the g word — greenwashing.”

Amelia Jory, Marketing Manager at Zuru
Products of Change
Products of Change Flow Chart

And that is the yard stick by which not only companies around the globe serious about their sustainable journey measure themselves, but so too does the Products of Change community. In fact, Products of Change’s audience is one that strives to encourage its peers to make larger and more meaningful change. It’s a platform devised to nudge companies away from greenwashing by showcasing the innovation and pioneering attitudes at play in driving a real systemic shift.

It’s why at Brand Licensing Europe this year, you’ll find on the Sustainability Activation in partnership with Products of Change a curated cocktail of creatives on the environmental front. From major UK retailers Asda and Tesco who have striven to deliver better sustainable measures to their millions of UK customers, to the likes of Teemill (a recycled fast fashion expert), Aqua + Rock (a premium fashion brand pioneering bio-circular leather among other natural inventions), the Eden Project, Natural History Museum, and other leading toy names such as Mattel and LEGO.

There will even be the chance to schedule a one-to-one meeting with Products of Change’s own Advisors panel of experts across sustainable licensing; June Kirkwood, Arthur Parry, and Cathy Teasdale. The platform’s US Ambassador, Andrea Green will also be on hand to talk to any international companies looking to extend their sustainability activity across the Atlantic, while POC’s Spanish ambassador, Leonora Aixas will be on hand for those looking to make waves across Europe.

As the recently concluded discussions in Glasgow this month have highlighted, a united front is our best chance in the fight against climate change. The licensing and consumer products industry is an endlessly creative one, and we have a real moment to deliver a new, sustainable, and regenerative industry; one that looks to re-balance and work alongside nature. You can take your first steps towards that future by joining the first Products of Change Australia and New Zealand meeting in February 2022, and put a new feather in your cap, too.

Interested in joining Products of Change?

If you’re interested in joining the Products of Change membership hub, feel free to reach out to the team:

Helena Mansell-Stopher: Helena [@]
Robert Hutchins: Rob [@]

You can check out the latest news and developments, and sign up to the Products of Change twice weekly newsletter via the website.