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How would you make sustainable living a reality?

If you’re a company like Unilever, you collaborate with a community that’s spread across the world – from employees to entrepreneurs.

Just to jog your memory, Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of food, home, and personal care products, reaching two billion consumers a day in over 190 countries. They’re the driving force behind brands such as Dove and Axe.

So, how does a company the size of Unilever use its influence to make a real impact?

Read on to find out.

The birth of a vision

Unilever had a vision: to make sustainable living, not just a reality, but commonplace.

To bring their vision to life, in 2014 they created the Unilever Foundry to collaborate with individuals, startups, and other organizations that believe in sustainability.

To expand upon this idea, Unilever unveiled the Foundry IDEAS platform in 2015. Foundry IDEAS, powered by Spigit’s idea management software, provided a mechanism for people around the world to not only share their sustainable living ideas but also collaborate with one another.

Unilever knew they needed to enlist the help of people from all walks of life if they were going to get any closer to accomplishing their long-term vision.

Now, thanks to Foundry IDEAS, someone in South Africa can share an idea they have on improving sanitation while someone in New York can offer their feedback.

This is powerful. Just like any movement with a goal of making significant change, it takes a village to make progress. In other words, you can’t do it alone.

By crowdsourcing ideas, Unilever created a virtual gathering place where people can use their knowledge and experience to make an impact from anywhere in the world. And, at the same time, they created a community of people who are just as passionate about making sustainable living commonplace as they are.

Global collaboration leads to meaningful solutions

There are over 7 billion people in the world and counting.

It’s safe to say there’s no shortage of ideas that can solve problems around the topic of sustainable living. The question is: how do you collect, organize, and take action on the best ones?

Unilever had a plan for this.

With the Foundry IDEAS platform, they had everything they needed to uncover the ideas that could move the needle.

One such idea came from a challenge posed to their community around reinventing laundry so it’s not as dependent on water as it is today.

One of the three winning ideas came from Christopher Anton.

Anton had the idea of creating waterless laundry powder similar to the scented powder people sprinkle on their carpets before vacuuming.

The idea is to give laundry that might not need to go through a wash cycle a quick pick-me-up so to speak. As a result, less water would be used and lightly soiled clothing would still smell fresh.

What did the people with winning ideas receive? An all expense paid trip to London – includes flight to/from, hotel, spending money –  to present their ideas to Unilever’s innovation team. 

This is the power of global collaboration.

Conclusion

While it won’t happen overnight, Unilever has put themselves in a position to make sustainable living a reality through global collaboration. And they’ve done it in a way that gets people excited to make this happen.

Featured image credit: Marketing Week

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