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Beyond the Box: How Influencer Marketing Can Embrace Sustainability

The age of social media has given rise to a new marketing tactic: influencer public relations (PR) packages. These overflowing gift sets, featuring a brand’s latest or most popular products, are sent with the hopes of getting mentioned - a quick and easy advertisement from the influencer. However, consumerist culture's abundance of packaging and promotion raises red flags about environmental impact.

PR packages often lead to overconsumption. Bombarded with an endless stream of products, influencers receive too many products to use. A significant portion of these items expire before ever being touched, thus creating a cycle of waste. While some influencers donate or resell their products, a substantial amount inevitably ends up in landfills.

The packaging itself is also an environmental issue. PR packages are often densely packed using non-biodegradable materials – plastic, Styrofoam and bubble wrap – which are destined for landfills and take hundreds of years to decompose. This adds to the already concerning plastic problem, regressing on the progress made to combat it.

However, influencer PR is not without potential. The brand exposure gained from PR packages is unmatchable, according to some. This is especially true for small businesses, where a viral influencer video can keep them in business. It is a way for brands to make more connections and establish trust among customers – over 60% of consumers trust influencer recommendations.

In a changing climate, especially as clean energy technology is evolving so fast, the least the social media industry can do is embrace sustainable practices. Influencers can be more selective and only accept packages with relevant products that they will genuinely use and promote. Additionally, brands need to be more conscious about what they send and adopt eco-friendly alternatives like recycled cardboard and biodegradable materials instead of plastic.

This isn't about shutting down influencer marketing.  It's about creating a future where marketing and environmental responsibility go hand-in-hand. The influencer industry is constantly evolving, and the way we approach PR packages should too. We have to work towards a system where "unboxing" doesn't come at the expense of our planet.

Acknowledgment: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.


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