Environmental Awareness Symbols: History, Evolution, and Impact on Marketing

Environmental Awareness Symbols History, Evolution, and Impact on Marketing

Public interest in protecting the environment continues to grow. An IBM study found that in 2020, 57% of respondents were willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce their impact on the environment. In 2021, 61% of consumers have reduced their use of single-use plastic packaging, according to Deloitte. Within environmental movements, new values, ideological models, and practices are developed, which become the basis of the personal and collective identity of the participants.

Like any trend, environmental protection has its symbols that are now recognizable around the world. It is through such elements that the spread of eco-awareness values is achieved, and new values are formed in society and business. It is the Green impact on business and marketing that we will talk about today.

History of Environmental Movements

The Green Movement is a generic name for groups, movements, and non-governmental and political organizations dedicated to fighting environmental destruction and seeking greater harmony in the relationship between humans and nature. The color green, which is used as a common emblem by members of the movement, serves as a symbol of nature, hope, and renewal.

The modern green movement emerged in the 1960s. Its importance was due not only to the enthusiasm of its founders but also to the fact that environmental conservation was on the political agenda. Today, the environmental movement stands on four pillars: environmental protection, grassroots citizen initiatives, social justice, and nonviolence.

The most prominent movement advocating the preservation of the planet from human activity is probably Greenpeace. It emerged in response to the U.S. intention to test nuclear weapons on Amchitka Island, part of the Rat Island group in the Aleutian Archipelago. Conservationists feared a tsunami that could trigger an explosion, and the most radical among them objected to the very idea of atomic bombs.

History of Environmental Movements

Another landmark green movement emerged in Great Britain – in 1961, a group of naturalists established the World Wide Foundation for Animal Welfare. After 28 years, WWF has become an international organization with offices in the USA, Canada, and Europe.

As early as the 1970s, the world began talking about limiting greenhouse gas emissions, which could lead to accelerated warming of the planet. However, at that time there was a lack of data and models to assess the impact of gases on the environment, so climate activism “matured” only 50 years later and turned into the “Fridays for the Future” movement, founded by Greta Thunberg.

Symbols of Environmental Awareness

Due to the active spread of eco-activism and environmental awareness around the world, graphic symbols related to these concepts can be found everywhere today. Every day there are more and more of them, but we will talk about the most important ones.

Recycling mark or Recycling sign, symbolizing a closed cycle: creation → use → disposal. The mark indicates that the product and/or its packaging is made of recycled material and/or is recyclable. Recycling “Mobius Ribbon” is found on the packaging of products made in the USA, UK, and Scandinavian countries.

The “Der Grune Punkt” sign in black and white, green and white and green versions indicates that the packaging material is recyclable within the framework of the “Dual System” (DSD). The developers of this sign implied that such a sign should inform every consumer that recycling is possible (of the packaging or the whole product), as well as their return of the purchased products to the manufacturer/seller.

The Recyclable Plastic mark symbolizes a closed cycle: creation → use → disposal. The mark is placed on plastic products that can be industrially recycled. In this case, in the sign itself or next to it put either the numbers 1 -7 or letters – the code of the substance from which the goods or its packaging are made.

Symbols of Environmental Awareness

QAI label. The organization for independent certification of natural organic products QAI (Quality Assurance International) supports the production of organic products not only in the United States but also around the world. QAI is dedicated to the global wellness of the planet.

Ozone Friendly CFC Free – indicates the absence of harmful substances in the product that lead to the reduction of the ozone layer. The vast majority of signs are used for labeling aerosols, and their centerpiece is an image of the globe.

The “Not tested for animals” or Animal-friendly label is a standard for ethical products, including cosmetics, which confirms that no animal experiments have been conducted, that no animal components have been used in the preparation of the product at the cost of animal life and that the individual components of the product have not been tested on animals.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is one of the most famous organizations in the world advocating for the protection of animals. its symbol is an image of a hare with long ears in pink. The PETA mark used by the PETA organization is a symbol of the fact that manufacturing companies refuse animal testing when making their products and do not produce them in any form: neither for the final product nor even for individual ingredients.

The Green Flag is a world-renowned prestigious environmental symbol awarded to educational institutions that have successfully implemented the program. The themes of the program are sustainable waste management; water resources; energy; climate change; biodiversity; healthy lifestyles; and wise consumption. In Scotland, Sweden, Morocco, and China it is a state program.



Compared to previous generations, the current age is more inclined to create a cleaner environment. This concern is not only for individuals but also for businesses that thrive on technology. Many organizations around the world are loudly expressing their concerns about environmental hazards. And today, companies are using their logos to show that they are working on an environmental issue. Below we have gathered for you a list of the most famous eco-logos.

Greenpeace. Initially, the emblem of the organization was chosen as the image of a dove with an olive branch on a green background, with the inscription Greenpeace under the picture. The symbol was approved immediately after the first action. Later on, the emblem underwent several changes. Eventually, a trademark was registered. Even today it still looks like the word Greenpeace written in bright green font.

WWF Panda Logo. The WWF Panda Mark belongs to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the largest independent international conservation organizations, which unites about 5 million permanent supporters and works in more than 100 countries. WWF’s mission is to prevent the increasing degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to achieve harmony between man and nature. The WWF Panda sign tops the top ten leaders among the “symbols of the millennium”.

Green Business Alliance. Looking at this logo, it immediately becomes clear what the company’s goals are. Ideally, the symbol of the brand itself should give basic information about it, and here is just such a case. Several shades of green, a round shape that evokes trust and means cooperation and unity, and a beautiful fetish tree in the center of the composition.

However, visual identity design is not the only component of eco-branding and many global companies do not reflect their activity in emblems, but prove their position by actions.

  • Levi’s. The company uses 100% recycled water in the production of its products, thus contributing to the preservation of the world’s water supply.
  • In addition to its popularity around the world, Starbucks decided to think about the environment and started making coffee cup cuffs out of recycled paper. This helps save 78,000 trees a year.
  • Dell has come up with a recycling program with the slogan “No computer should be thrown away”. The company allows customers to return any of the brand’s products free of charge.
  • Patagonia‘s centers around the world are designed to reduce its carbon footprint. The company uses fossil fuels to make coat skins, an effort designed to improve the world’s climate.
  • All of the company’s products, even the packaging, are made from environmentally friendly materials. They also supply purified water, safe birthing kits, and eye care assistance to those in need.

Eco-Marketing Targets and Values

Eco-Marketing: Targets and Values

Today, more than sixty percent of consumers attach importance to the eco-focus of brands and are even willing to overpay for eco-friendly products. Against the backdrop of worsening environmental problems, ecomarketing is becoming one of the leading trends in business. Companies are revisiting corporate values and changing business models to meet the new needs of their target audience.

To become eco-friendlier, companies are implementing various initiatives: They use environmentally friendly raw materials and recyclable materials in the manufacture of their products; Adopt production technologies that can reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere and switch to energy-efficient equipment; Recycle used packaging, clothing, and footwear; Engage in eco-education and incorporate environmental values into their corporate culture.


Concerns about climate change, toxicity, and waste have begun to influence consumer behavior around the world. The proportion of those who expect brands to protect the environment is increasing, and this is pushing companies with a wide variety of products towards sustainable production and consumption.

Global warming, microplastics, greenhouse gas emissions, and trash sorting are some of the most talked about topics in recent years. After eco-activist Greta Thunberg’s 2019 speech, the world began to think seriously about protecting the environment.

People began to think about their consumption habits, and become interested in sorting trash and discussing environmental issues. Many green media outlets and eco-bloggers have sprung up online to promote mindful consumption. Brands are also thinking seriously about the dangers to the environment.

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