Skip to content

3 learnings on how to human-proof sustainability

Many people are experiencing apocalypse fatigue, which is especially common around the topic of sustainability. Global Web Index defines this as “the exhaustion of making endless moral choices when they don’t seem to make a difference”. This hopelessness stands in our way to move forward. So what can businesses do to counter this apocalypse fatigue? And resonate with people regarding sustainability?

Show people that they are not the only ones making sacrifices
People are sceptical of the green promises made by big companies. In practice, it often comes down to companies offering consumers the opportunity to make sacrifices while not being willing to make real sacrifices themselves. To counter this, show that you genuinely care about the topic, make sacrifices, and demonstrate that your customers are not on the losing end of the trade-off. And if they are, explain why that’s the case.

Don’t talk “anthropogenic, greenhouse gasses or net-zero”
It’s fair to state that normal people don’t “talk policy.” So instead of using words like anthropogenic, greenhouse gases, or net-zero, use words people understand and use themselves, like extreme weather, overheating, or pollution.

Make sustainable behaviour visible
People are very aware of the social implications of their purchases. People are more likely to buy something or do something “good” when others can see them performing this ethical behaviour or purchase. In addition, when this behaviour is visible, it’s also more likely to inspire others. It’s a form of social proof, the idea that people copy the behaviour of others in an attempt to match their own behavior with the group norm. So, it’s important to help people show that they are engaged in sustainable behaviour and signal it to their surroundings so that others might follow their example.

We’ve supported several businesses in human-proofing their ESG challenges. If you are curious to learn how we can help your business become more relevant towards people regarding sustainability, feel free to reach out:

Picture of Author


Kim Pillen

Share the signal.

More Signals

Stay relevant.
Sign up for our
bi-weekly Signals.

A bi-weekly newsletter in which we keep track of what’s going on in the world and translate based on our sociocultural knowledge, what this means to brands.

Kim Pillen


Before Kim Pillen started as a trend consultant at TrendsActive, she worked for four years as a creative strategist at Dept. For brands such as Philips,, Beiersdorf, JBL, and the Consumers’ Association, she built (online) campaign, brand, and social media strategies. After four years, she decided that she wanted to better understand people and society in order to advise brands more effectively. That’s how she ended up at TrendsActive. Here, she can do what she loves most: digging into people’s needs and then working with brands to see how and where they can be relevant and meaningful.

Douwe Knijff


Douwe is fascinated by how people work. With a background in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (Bachelor) and Psychology (Master) and an analytical mind he tries figure out how societal shifts manifest themselves through social culture and human behaviour.

Aljan De Boer

Keynote speaker

Aljan has been widely recognized as an inspiring professional speaker on the critical trends that will shape society in the decades to come. He works as the Head of Inspiration at TrendsActive, a trend consultancy from the Netherlands using social science to human-proof business decision for brands like

  • Disney
  • Vodafone
  • Hugo Boss
  • ASR
  • Rabobank

Next to his role at TrendsActive he is the Community Director at the Institute for Real Growth where he inspires and connects a global community of +400 CMOs.  

He has been on the board of the Dutch Platform of Innovative Marketing for almost a decade. Regular speaker and moderator for the Dutch Marketing Awards and 3 times winner of the best of MIE. 

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees his purpose is to help ambitious leaders and brands to human-proof their business. In 2003 he founded TrendsActive, a trend consultancy enabling brands to become more human centric.

Kees consults global brands like

  • Disney
  • The Coca-Cola Company
  • Asics
  • Discovery Channel
  • Swiss Life
  • Vodafone

and many more.

Next to being the founder of TrendsActive, he is also initiator of the first academic trend master for executives at the University of Utrecht and is initiator of various trend studies and white papers on subjects like trust, meaning, visual culture & generations.


Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist

Kees Elands

Founder & Strategist