Every day of our lives, we’re faced with lots of small decisions. Should we cycle to work or drive? Enjoy a salad or hamburger for lunch? Buy organic or go for whatever’s on offer?
While we don’t necessarily think about the consequences of every little choice we make, we know that our choices matter. Exercise and dietary decisions impact our overall health and energy levels; leaving the car at home and skipping meat a day a week is better for the environment.
As any parent can tell you, having a child makes you more aware of your everyday choices: you strive to be healthier, more active and a better role model.
You want your children to have a bright future - something every child in the world deserves.
What we buy – and where we buy from – is another everyday choice, one that can have far-reaching implications that can impact people around the globe. Especially children.That’s the power of big business.
Unilever - the company just announced as industry leader of the Household and Personal Products Industry Group in the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) - recently conducted a survey which found that 54 percent of consumers want to buy more sustainably.
But what does that mean practically? When we’re short on time or cash, how do we make choices that are good for our families, can benefit others and don’t exploit or harm anyone?
Small actions can yield big results, whether you start shopping more sustainably or try to “green” your life in other ways.
Just look at how these three brands are working to make the world a better place for generations to come.
Take Domestos: the cleaning brand has already helped five million people to access clean toilets.
Working with UNICEF, local governments and NGOs to implement a water, sanitation and hygiene programme in countries that badly need it, the initiative is helping to prevent diseases and death from poor sanitation. Diarrhoea, for instance, tragically kills a child every two minutes – an unbelievable and horrifying statistic.
In addition to ensuring access to proper facilities, the brand is fighting to end the practice of open defecation - defecating in fields and rivers instead of toilets - which spreads germs and disease quickly and easily.
Proper sanitation not only helps to curb disease but also saves families money on medical bills that they can now use towards food and clothing.
It also gives children in these local communities something that many never thought they would see: the potential for a bright future.
Another issue that kids around the world face is the problem of accessing an education, something laundry brand Persil is aiming to change by helping to give children in Vietnam, Brazil and India the chance to get to school. As part of a partnership with UNICEF, Persil has helped to send 10 million children to school in 2015, where they not only learned the basics of reading and writing but also found a haven where their confidence could grow and imaginations would flourish.
Known as the Learning for Tomorrow initiative, Persil has helped build rural schools in the Amazon Basin in Brazil and has helped to give children free access to education – and the chance to participate in local science fairs - in India.
The initiative also changed Ghenh Lô Thi’s life: the young girl from north Vietnam now attends a school where she can understand her teachers and classmates (most schools in Vietnam only teach Vietnamese rather than her mother tongue, Mmong).
Now she and her schoolmates are benefitting from a bilingual education – and even teaching their parents a thing or two when they come home each day.
Even when children have access to the right educational opportunities, they do not always hear the right messages.
Dove has long been a champion in promoting beauty of every shape and size and the brand has turned its emphasis and expertise towards imbuing youngsters with the confidence and skills they need to love themselves through the Dove Self-Esteem Project.
Working with schools, teachers and parents, Dove provides advice, workshops and guidance on body image and body positivity, touching 19 million young people across the globe and aiming to reach 20 million more by 2020. The message of body confidence and boosting self-esteem is essential to the women and men who will lead the next generation.
Big businesses like Unilever - with brands like Domestos, Persil and Dove - have the global reach to make a huge difference in the day-to-day well-being of children around the world, and it’s not only adults who can teach children about sustainability and creating a fairer world.
Children have a profound influence and can help encourage their parents to make greener, healthier and more positive choices. They see the problems that people in the world face but also have the optimism and hope for a fairer world that many adults have become cynical about.
You might not realise it, but your everyday choices can have an impact. By buying brands that are contributing to sustainability you can play your part in making the world a better place, too.
Just think how proud the kids will be when you tell them.