Activation Gallery: Sustainability


“Making a difference” … “Green” … “Recyclable.” These are the messages brands and retailers are increasingly delivering as they market and merchandise sustainable products both in-store and online. While Earth Month (April) and Earth Day (April 22) drive increased focus every spring, these products are ubiquitous year-round. That’s what Institute editors have found as they monitor activity at major retailers in various channels, including grocery, mass, drug and pet. Here’s a sampling of recent activity they’ve found. Many more sustainability-related activations are showcased in the image vault at

a screenshot of a video game

Pet food brand Weruva touted its recycling partnership with TerraCycle at Petco this spring. An endcap stocking the brand’s cat products packaged in pouches was outfitted with a co-branded sign instructing shoppers about the three-step recycling process: “rinse and dry pouch; collect your pouches; pack TerraCycle pouch full and mail back.” The sign directed shoppers to TerraCycle’s website for more information.


graphical user interface

Unilever’s Axe touted the sustainable qualities of its products in a brand showcase. Spotted as early as February, the showcase boasts that the brand is “keeping it green” with body spray cans that are infinitely recyclable, stick packs that contain 50% recycled plastic, and body wash and hair care bottles made from 100% recycled plastic. The showcase also plugged the brand’s body wash products as free of parabens and its deodorants as formulated without aluminum.

graphical user interface

Procter & Gamble sent members of its P&G Good Everyday consumer rewards program to Amazon in honor of Earth Day. The manufacturer promised to plant a tree (up to 10,000) via the Arbor Day Foundation for every order screenshot of a P&G purchase on Amazon uploaded to the P&G Good Everyday community website between April 1 and May 22. A supporting email blast delivered on Earth Day directed members to an landing page to shop planet-friendly P&G products. The sustainability-themed shop details the cause effort and lets visitors browse products across home, baby care and personal care categories while spotlighting brands Cascade, Pampers (specifically the Pure Protection line), Tide (in an eco-box), Charmin, Tampax (its 100% organic Pure line) and Hair Food on a shoppable leaderboard ad.


Petco says it has upcycled 1.5 million plastic bottles into pet accessories through its “Started as a Bottle” program. In stores, a dedicated rack positioned upfront merchandises the collection of products, with a header card and side panel proclaiming: “We believe in second chances.” On, a home page carousel ad spotted on April 29 linked to a dedicated “Started as a Bottle” shop. The recycled items are part of Petco private labels, including Bond & Co. and recently launched Youly.

a store filled with lots of food

Target is carrying an exclusive vegan bath and body collection from Unilever’s Love Beauty and Planet. The “Beloved” line gets the spotlight in stores via racks outfitted with headers and table displays communicating that the product is made with ethically sourced extracts and oils and packaged in bottles and jars made from recycled plastic bottles.

a close up of a sign

Procter & Gamble for Earth Month drew attention to sustainable packaging available exclusively at Costco with plenty of promotional support, including a full-page “Earth Day Every Day” feature in Costco’s monthly member savings mailer. Communicating that the retailer and manufacturer are “working together to deliver new recyclable packaging,” the feature emphasized P&G’s partnership with recycling company TerraCycle, which “keeps razors out of landfills” and ensures Pantene “bottles are made from 25% recycled materials.” It also highlighted savings on select Gillette Venus and Pantene SKUs.

a bunch of stuffed animals sitting next to a teddy bear

Target is carrying plush toys from ThreeSixty Group’s FAO Schwarz that are made from recycled water bottles and 100% recycled faux fur. The FAO Schwarz “Planet Love” plush toys enjoy secondary merchandising space via multiple shelf trays positioned on endcaps in the toy department. The displays depict images of a plastic bottle and explain that “2 out of 3 plastic bottles aren’t recycled in the U.S.’’ and “by turning plastic bottles into loveable pals, we’re showing the planet love.”


Compostable cleaning wipes from Clorox Co. recently received the spotlight on Target’s website through a home page display ad positioning the SKUs as new at the retailer and “safe to use around kids, pets & food.” The ad directed shoppers to a page listing the Clorox SKUs, which are available scent-free (“Free & Clear”) or in a “Simply Lemon” scent. Clorox launched compostable cleaning wipes in January 2020, but production had to be halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic as products that could be manufactured more quickly received greater priority, Clorox chief executive officer Linda Rendle told CNBC.

a can of soda

BJ’s Wholesale Club promoted sustainability during Earth Month by showing support for Keurig Dr Pepper’s national incentive program for recyclable K-Cup pods, which ran from March 14 through May 15 and promised $12 in coffee coupons and a free reusable tote from Keurig Green Mountain with purchase of $15 worth of recyclable pods. In addition to some online support, in-store pallet displays outfitted in promotional skirts plugged the offer and invited shoppers to “buy recyclable” and “get rewarded.” On-pack stickers promoting the incentive were also affixed to individual packaging.

a store in a library

Target is stocking an exclusive, sustainable personal care line of deodorant, body lotion, body wash and toothpaste SKUs created by actress and talk-show host Jada Pinkett Smith and beauty incubator Maesa. Hey Humans enjoyed secondary merchandising space in stores at launch earlier this year via endcap displays positioning the brand as only available at Target and using 99% plastic-free packaging.

a close up of a newspaper

Most Ahold Delhaize USA chains leveraged a national Earth Month campaign from General Mills that dangled a free reusable snack bag with purchase of $15 in participating products. Support included multiple circular features and display ads within chain websites as well as a home page carousel ad on that linked to a dedicated web page spotlighting “Brands that make a difference,” including Annie’s, Oui yogurt and Nature Valley snacks.


Publix in January elevated plant-based products by dangling various coupons and promoting “tasty recipes” in its latest Extra Savings circular. Multiple full-page features highlighted deals and print coupons for relevant products from brands including Nestle’s Natural Bliss, Impossible Foods, PepsiCo’s Quaker and Unilever’s Seventh Generation. One feature plugged “the power of plants” above a recipe for “meatball” skewers calling for Smithfield Foods’ Pure Farmland, while another directed shoppers to find recipes on a Publix-branded web page operated by PromoPoint Marketing that listed exclusive deals and plant-based recipes.

graphical user interface

In recent months, CVS Pharmacy has been merchandising independent skincare brands that are marketed as sustainable using an in-line display complete with dedicated shelf units and account-specific signage for each brand. A header carried a “Beauty [products] inspired by nature” message while boasting that the products showcased were “free from parabens, phthalates and formaldehyde donors.”

a woman sitting on a newspaper

Colgate-Palmolive’s Irish Spring amplified its reforestation efforts across the U.S. with an Ibotta offer intended to help educate Walmart shoppers about the importance of protecting and restoring forests. Pledging $100,000 to support the reforestation efforts of nonprofit The Nature Conservancy, the brand promised cash back and a plantable Colorado Blue Spruce tree card with purchase of three bottles of Irish Spring body wash at Walmart throughout September and October 2020. A side panel affixed to a four-way sporting a QR code intended to facilitate redemption was still spotted at the retailer as late as February of this year.


P&G’s Gillette rolled out a line of shaving products at Target earlier this year that come in recyclable blue packaging and are made with 85% recycled paper, 85% recycled plastic or infinitely recyclable aluminum. The line includes shaving cream, moisturizer and face wash “with cucumber and vitamin E” as well as a kit encompassing two razor blade cartridges and a razor handle made from 60% recycled plastic (the equivalent of one recycled water bottle). In stores, account-specific endcap displays served to drum up support for the products, which are also available through direct-to-consumer site