Our CEO Bert van Son travelled across the world to attend the Sustainable Brands conferences


Sustainable Brands is a global learning community of forward-thinking businesses, who are leading the way to a better future. Sustainable Brands believe that brands today have a unique role to play in helping shift the world to a sustainable economy. At the conferences they held, creatives and technical experts steer the conversation to guide brands shift to a sustainable economy. 

In 2016, Sustainable Brands again held their annual conferences in Barcelona, San Diego and Sydney. Business leaders and representatives from companies throughout the world get together to discuss their role in creating a more sustainable future. Our CEO, Bert van Son, was invited to be a speaker at the events.

 - Sustainable brands in San Diego

While in San Diego creative agency thinkPARALLAX invited us for a beach event. It was great to be removed from the typical conference setting, wear wetsuits and drink beer. It was great to meet other sustainability practitioners, eat taco’s with the vibrant team of this agency, while using, as thinkPARALLAX would say, mother nature’s ultimate playground, the Pacific Ocean.

Now on to the serious stuff, the talks at the conference. There were some good ones and there were some unforgettable ones. We would like to share 2 of them with you, so that you can watch their talks at home and be inspired!

- Dr. Anil Sakya

A talk by Dr. Anil Sakya, born in Sakya clan of Lord Buddha and studies at Cambridge. Phra Anil represents the modern face of Thai Buddhism, a bridge between the Sangha’s principled authority and the ever-changing realities of lay people’s existence. He discussed the meaning of purpose and the path to truly identifying and activating our purpose, in the context of understanding our fundamental nature. Watch his full talk here.

- Anita Roddick

For its 40th anniversary, The Body Shop has unveiled a pioneering global CSR strategy that will underpin all aspects of company operation. The new commitment will reaffirm the global cosmetics brand’s positioning as a leader in ethical business, and will define its next stage of development. Watch her full talk here.

Our marketing manager, Danique Gunning and CEO, Bert van Son, enjoyed their time. They were especially excited about meeting their heroes like Eileen Fisher. For those who have not seen it yet, have a look at Bert van Son’s talk here.

Sustainable brands Sydney

Next up was the Sustainable Brands conference in Sydney, the first conference down-under. There was a focus on Millennials and their influence on the industry going forward. “By 2020 over half the workforce will be Gen Y and Z … and they don’t think like you do,” sustainability leader at Ernst and Young Matthew Bell said. He explained that younger demographics expect brands to show up in a way that makes a difference in the world. “Millennials want to be part of the conversation; they don’t want to be spoken to.” Bert van Son explained here that he also experienced Millennials actively pursuing involvement in the jeans-leasing enterprise. “When you do something that’s interesting and purposeful, you get a lot of young people calling you and asking you questions,” is what they quoted. 

Another prominent theme across the conference was to create with the mindset that you have a mission with a company, not a company with a mission. But a factor that seemed a challenge to all industries – and with no one clear formula for success – was how best to communicate a brand’s story and the ethics and values at their core, and, in turn, engage more meaningfully with consumers.

Bert van Son enjoyed the energy of the Australian people who live close to nature and who want to change into a more circular economy. Not to forget the amazing dinner party hosted by The Ocean Agency. They build on te idea to reveal the ocean in Google Street View. The Great Barrier Reef collection was part of the first group of underwater panoramic images added to Google Maps, the next step in their quest to provide people with the most comprehensive, accurate and usable map of the world. With these vibrant and stunning photos you don’t have to be a scuba diver, to explore and experience six of the ocean’s most incredible living coral reefs. Please take a look here

So, to conclude, here are the main takeaways of MUD’s adventures in Australia:

… We were live on the radio to tell the Australians about the circular economy

… We have set up a collaboration with an agent who will show our collection at Melbourne Fashion Week

… Tom Davies decided to dress his whole team, from the environment consultancy firm Edge Environment in MUD jeans