E-books: The key to a sustainable literature future?

With devices like the reading-specific Amazon Kindle and multi-purpose Apple iPad – both with e-book reading capabilities – growing in popularity, there has been a significant shift away from the purchase of physical books.

I love books in their physical form. As a child, I loved visiting the library, religiously borrowing, reading, and returning books on a weekly basis. As an adult, I’m more likely to frequent bookstores than libraries simply due to the convenience and carefree nature afforded by purchasing a book from any bookstore without an obligation to read and return it by a pre-determined date. Enter the e-book, the ultimate in convenience and instant gratification, lower prices and weightless transport. Some things I dislike about e-books: you can’t share them, they’re only marginally less expensive, and they keep you stuck to a screen.

Nonetheless, with respect to environmental sustainability, e-books seem better for the environment. They don’t use any physical resources, such as paper, processing chemicals, and so on. However, we need to look at the fact that the e-book readers, whether it’s a Kindle, an iPad, an iPhone or other device have largely unsustainable components. In fact, the batteries in devices such as these are some of the worst environmental perpetrators around. Nonetheless, it needs to be acknowledged that not all of these negative environmental effects can be attributed solely to the reading of books for multi-purpose devices, such as the iPhone or the iPad. Additionally, applications for computers, both PC and Mac, are being developed. This will further demonstrate the benefit of e-books. For example, I would own my iPhone and MacBook whether or not I had the Kindle e-book reader application; consequently, I wouldn’t attribute any of the negative environmental impact of the battery to books.

As an e-book reader, I am thrilled to see new services being introduced that will further reduce the costs of purchasing e-books. Rather than buying every e-book, companies such as Amazon are introducing e-book rental systems. There is a lot of controversy currently facing this concept, particularly centered on the legality and fairness of such rental systems. Nonetheless, I believe it is a step in the right direction that effectively targets one of the biggest flaws of e-books: a lack of share-ability. I think this could be an especially large market for textbooks, as students are increasingly reluctant to purchase the expensive materials. Similarly, this will ultimately have increased positive implications on the environment, as fewer print books are produced.

There is something innately soothing in figuratively disappearing into the pages of a book. The weight of the book. The feel of the pages. The distinct smell of books. This can’t ever be replicated by an e-book. But there is something equally gratifying about the one-touch access to literature afforded by an e-book. The convenience of on-the-go reading. The lower price. Personally, e-books don’t deliver the same magic, but they still offer an escape. I’m interested to see what the future holds!


Why I’ve come to hate Spence Diamonds

Spence Diamonds. Fabulous product. Horrific advertising. I went from loving Spence Diamonds for their great products to absolutely abhorring them, courtesy of their awful advertising. If I didn’t find it so infuriatingly terrible, I would feel sad for them. But there is simply no excuse for advertising execution this bad.

I used to think of Spence Diamonds very fondly. Even when that nails-on-chalkboard equivalent voice took over their radio advertising, my love for the company stayed strong. Then things went from bad to worse. Spence Diamonds has forever alienated me as a customer and supporter with the rollout of their most recent advertising campaign on bus stops. What makes it worse is that it’s completely inescapable – it’s everywhere. I give them kudos for thorough coverage and deep penetration, but hate them on a personal level. Every time I see one of these ads, my blood literally boils.

Spence Diamonds has four (that I’m aware of) different ads within this campaign. On that note, I should probably clarify: I adore the concept of this campaign. I think it’s cute, relatable, witty, and relevant. Maybe that’s why I feel so frustrated about it – it has so much potential to be great, and they absolutely blew it on the execution! To be fair, I’ve heard a lot of negative feedback from others on the concept of this campaign. Specifically, a number of people were offended by the “It sucks to be alone” ad; I thought it was funny, if a little bit harsh. Also, not a smart move – it successfully alienates potential future customers.


So how do I hate thee? Let me list the ways …

The offensively terrible typeface: Did they let a four-year-old child choose this typeface? I mean really Spence Diamonds? It looks like the BOLD key threw up all over your ad, in the least romantic, modern, or appealing font ever. It’s not even consistent with what their brand image seems to be – though I’m no longer sure what their brand image is …. And it would appear they don’t either.

The awful ring image: Really? That’s the best you can do? Look, Spence Diamonds, it’s about time someone told you: you are not Tiffany & Co. What makes your image even worse is that Tiffany & Co. rolled out an ad campaign of their own at the same time as Spence Diamonds, using an identical style of ring. The diamond in the ring featured in the Spence Diamonds ads looks like it’s of poor quality. It’s just not good. Newsflash, Spence: Tiffany’s ring makes your ring look like it came from the dentist. 

The blatant disregard for appealing layout: The image of the ring is disproportionately large. The font seems crammed together. The logo seems like it was placed on as an afterthought. Just not good. 

Spence Diamonds – FIRE YOUR AGENCY.

Icebreaker: From lust to love

It’s not very often that I fall in love with a company based solely on their advertising campaign; in fact, it’s only happened twice. Icebreaker is one of these companies – a relative “dark horse” in the sense that they aren’t a company that would have likely ever been on my radar. (Read as an admission that I’m not the most outdoorsy person). I first learned about Icebreaker in a sustainability marketing class from group members. A quick Google search of the company and I was in love.

Their ads are racy. Their ads are provocative. Their ads are unique. Their ads toe the line of offensive. Their ads are unbelievable. Their ads are polarizing.

First, let me give you a bit of a background on Icebreaker, because once I show you images of their ads, I guarantee my words will no longer register. Icebreaker is a sustainable New Zealand-based merino wool outdoor garment manufacturer. Leveraging the renewable resource of wool, Icebreaker internalizes a sustainability-orientation in all aspects of their business. Emphasizing transparency throughout their process, Icebreaker’s products are all traceable using a BAACODE. This enables consumers to go online and trace the location of the herd from which the wool in their product came, as well as where it was processed and manufactured.

The business model is amazing, with sustainability at it’s core. Icebreaker states that “It’s about our relationship with nature, and to each other.” Admirable. Understanding their business model simply reiterated my shallow love for the brand. I don’t actually believe in love at first sight; you can’t love somebody based upon appearance – that’s called lust, folks. So, I guess my feelings for Icebreaker were really “lust at first sight” rather than “love at first sight.” Now you’re about to see why.

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Had enough??? Well, lucky for you I’ll give you the option of whether or not you can handle a little more. If you think you’re up to it, watch this video!

Polling the Readers: Are Icebreakers ads inappropriate and offensive, or simply good marketing?

Happy Nappy: Making cloth diapers a realistic alternative

Babies need a lot of stuff. Clothing. Bottles. Toys. Diapers. It’s expensive. It produces a lot of waste. As we all know, there is a macro-social trend of couples choosing more natural lifestyle alternatives, including childbirth and childrearing. More people are choosing midwives over doctors. More people are choosing breastfeeding over bottle-feeding. Are more people choosing cloth diapers over disposable diapers?

I can unequivocally and confidently state that dirty diapers are gross. I have nieces and nephew. I have a ton of cousins. I’m fully aware. I care about the environment; I know disposable diapers are bad for it. But still, the last thing I want to do is wash a dirty diaper – gross.

Enter Happy Nappy.

When the Happy Nappy team visited Dragons Den, they left empty handed: the dragons didn’t believe their services were needed. Operating with a product in an industry that will exist as long as babies are born, Happy Nappy has seen growing success. They meet parents’ demands for keeping babies dry and comfortable in an environmentally sustainable way – and the Happy Nappy team does all the work.

Happy Nappy manufactures cloth diapers, delivering a fresh batch to customers’ houses weekly and removing the previous week’s dirty diapers to be laundered at their warehouse. Aware of the concerns many have over chemicals in cleaning supplies, Happy Nappy’s laundering process is certified phosphate free, chlorine-less, and balances pH levels to match a baby’s skin pH level. They even go as far as to only use cold-water detergents, further minimizing their environmental impact. Their goal is to use a laundering process that is environmentally and – more importantly – baby friendly. Did I mention that overall, it’s also cheaper to use cloth diapers?

Happy Nappy isn’t available everywhere. In fact, there are only franchises servicing select parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. However, with a growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly alternatives, it is possible that there will be increased growth of Happy Nappy.

Some “fun facts” that may encourage parents to use services like Happy Nappy instead of disposable diapers: the average disposable diaper will stay in a landfill for approximately 500 years. Over 4 million diapers are disposed of per day in Canada. That is a whole lot of waste being added to the landfill. Cloth diapers are admittedly not the right choice for every parent, just as a midwife and breastfeeding aren’t the right choice for every person. It’s simply an alternative, one with considerable environmental benefits compared to the disposable alternative.