I never thought Samsung would teach me about environmental communication, but it happened a couple of weeks ago. My partner was watching a video about Samsung’s new tech releases. Main highlight: they’re launching a robot that can take out the plates from the sink and put them in the dishwasher! The last part of the video was dedicated to their sustainability strategy. The message was to the point, optimistic, and solution-oriented. So, I decided to write this article about 6 lessons we can learn from Samsung about environmental communication.
Before I start, I want to clarify that I don’t own any Samsung products, and I think that we need to consume LESS to get out of the climate and biodiversity crisis. But, we also need to communicate effectively, and that’s why this case is a great example to analyze.
It’s hard to admit responsibility for what we do wrong. If a business accepts its mistakes, it could mean fewer consumers and sales. But environmental issues have become so evident that companies can’t ignore their responsibility anymore. Instead of sharing the blame with other sectors, Samsung admitted the tech sector’s role in packaging and tech waste and proposed solutions like reusing old phones to make portable eye exam devices and creating packaging that can be repurposed into small furniture.
Give consumers power
Companies need to play a significant role in creating a sustainable future, but consumers also need to accept the impact of their buying habits. Samsung wants to teach people how to reprogram their old phones and turn them into baby monitors or long-distance remotes to turn on the lights of your house when your pets are alone. This gives consumers the chance to make a difference they can see, unlike recycling or other actions where you don’t get to see the end result. If consumers can fix and repurpose their objects, it can motivate them to develop a sustainable mindset in other aspects of their life.
Embrace “complicated” concepts
Some concepts are difficult to explain, like ocean acidification or the Amazon’s tipping point (the rainforest, not the company), but the public needs and wants to know details. We can’t keep protecting everyone from the science and evidence behind pressing issues, especially if we’re talking to an audience that wants to take real action. Samsung quickly explained how they’re improving energy consumption in their data centers through energy-saving memory solutions in their DRAM and SSD. Do I know the entire science behind this? No. But I’ve heard enough to know that data centers consume a lot of energy, and I’m glad they’re informing me about it. Now I can check if other companies are taking similar steps.
Recognize the importance of younger generations
Younger generations are taking action and want answers. We’ve seen it with Fridays for Future and the rise of TikTok activists. Samsung embraces this by showing images of young people, asking them their opinion, and highlighting their impact with messages like this: the next generation is asking for us to have a more mindful relationship with the environment, our society, and humankind.
Paint a positive future
Environment problems are scary. It’s hard to take action on environmental causes if we feel what we do is pointless and that the ice caps will melt anyway. Samsung flips this narrative. Their sustainability tagline is: together for tomorrow. This paints a picture of a future that can only be built collectively without a catastrophic tone. They also emphasize holistic solutions that will benefit people and the planet. This moves away from the idea that there can only be one winner.
Acknowledge the real cause of the problem
I loved this line: “as we think about sustainability, perhaps the biggest challenge facing humankind is to coexist with nature.” That is exactly our problem! We have forgotten that we are connected to ants, flowers, and rocks, that what we eat, breathe and enjoy comes from nature. To coexist with nature, we don’t need to be in nature, love hiking, or hug trees; we just need to be aware that our actions affect our surroundings, and if we get along, it will benefit everyone, plants and animals included.
There you have it, 6 lessons for environmental communication that I learned from Samsung. As environmental communicators, we must learn from other sectors that are also making an effort to share their impact in simple and actionable ways. Let’s find ways to make our information more accessible and enjoyable.