Silent Heroes: Latin American Sustainability

Trends / Sustainability
Federico Roales
Feb 11, 2022
When we refer to sustainability, the focus is often placed on the commitments of big companies and governments, while the individual practices are not properly reflected or honored enough. Although consumers believe that the level of responsibility is not the same, in order to create a sustainable future, it is also necessary for individuals to adopt attitudes towards environmental care in their daily routines. This might be aligned with consumer perception: less than half of Latin American consumers believe that their countries have made a lot of progress towards sustainability, but 84% believe that they personally progressed towards living a more sustainable lifestyle, according to our Visual GPS research. In this way, a paradigm shift may be in the pipeline: what if sustainable leadership rises from the grassroots movement to top decision‑makers through consumers’ small—but impactful— behaviors?
In this sense, some practices showing that citizens are willing to play a leading role in sustainable evolution through their daily actions have recently become popular. Plogging1 is a trend that began in Stockholm, Sweden, and it’s generating more and more followers all around Latin America. This “sport” consists of picking up pieces of garbage found on the road while going for a run, as if they are obstacles that add some level of difficulty to the physical exercise2

Plogging deserves our attention, because it can debunk two major myths surrounding sustainable practices. According to our Visual GPS Research, almost 4 in 10 LATAM consumers think practicing sustainable habits is expensive and is too much work. Not the case for plogging: you need just a bag to pick up garbage when running. The growing enthusiasm for this particular activity may be explained by the fact that it summarizes the social ethos of this era: working for the environment while working on personal wellbeing. Body and nature, individual and communitarian senses interconnected.
"Show ordinary people as the protagonists of the transformation of the planet through their everyday actions"
However, there are other sustainable practices that have become popular recently in Latin American cities, always sharing a common pattern: collective actions of individuals that promote an environmental benefit for the planet, such as community gardens, home orchards, waste collection in natural areas or tree‑planting. This growing interest in individual sustainable practices is also reflected in Getty Images’ rising search terms: “sustainability” (+352%), “recycling” (+179%) and “composting” (+270%) have risen over the last year among our customers based in Latin American countries.

So, what are the visual implications related to sustainable practices? How can we communicate them, and what role do brands play in their promotion? We should bear in mind that 1 in 2 Latin American consumers think that companies should educate people about best practices in sustainability. Furthermore, almost 2 in 3 (65%) expressed their annoyance when seeing imagery in a brand’s advertising or communication that is not environmentally aware (such as plastic straws or disposable coffee cups). Therefore, the most effective way for a company to communicate its commitment to the environment is through their visual communication. In addition, there is a segment (still minor, but likely to grow in upcoming years) that is beginning to change their purchasing decisions based on the companies' commitment to the environment: 21% of LATAM consumers declared that they only buy products from brands that try to be eco‑friendly.
There is a very frequent practice promoted by companies when it comes to communicating their environmental commitment: they tend to use abstract and futuristic images that are artificially retouched, or they show natural landscapes with a predominance of green palettes. In this sense, the above‑mentioned practices provide a fundamental lesson: the leading actors of the sustainable revolution are the ordinary people, who encourage and inspire people to take care of the environment through their practices. An appropriate approach would depict them as the protagonists of the transformation of the planet we live in, mainly through their everyday actions.
 1 Infobae
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