The ‘Circular Economy’ is one of the pin-up stars of the sustainability movement cropping up with increasing frequency in corporate strategies, but how do you make it real to consumers? Our ‘From a Mother to Another’ campaign gives some pointers.

From a Mother to Another redistributes high quality baby and children’s clothing that has been outgrown, to vulnerable families in the UK. Our research discovered that over £3,500 worth of children’s clothing goes to landfill per child growing up. Over half of mothers (57%) would be more likely to pass on children’s clothing if it helped disadvantaged families in the UK.

We were astounded by the response. During the six weeks leading up to Mother’s Day 50,000 garments were collected that would otherwise have been discarded or recycled. These garments will support 4,000 vulnerable families in the UK who are struggling to make ends meet providing free high quality clothing for their babies and children. Five lessons have shone through the campaign:

1) Collaboration is essential

From a Mother to Another has only worked due to collaboration between different sectors. JoJo Maman Bebe is the largest independent baby and children's clothing retailer in the UK with over 70 shops throughout the country. They have the connection with their customers and the facilities to enable clothing to be collected, sorted and redistributed.

Barnardos has over 300 family centres providing direct help to vulnerable families across the UK. These are natural distribution points for the gift packs providing instant help where it is most needed. Hubbub UK has acted as the project co-ordinator promoting the activities, building the narrative and highlighting the wider environmental and economic implications.

2) The emotional connection is vital

The campaign has resonated with mothers because they know their child’s clothes, which often have strong memories attached to them, and gifts are being given to other mothers in the UK who are struggling to make ends meet. This emotional connection with the recipient has resulted in high quality clothing being donated.

3) Be topical

The hook of Mother’s Day has given a focal point for action and communications – particularly with the media. The link also gives the campaign an opportunity to have a long-term impact. It is our ambition that the campaign should become embedded as part of the Mother’s Day tradition.

4) Social media works

From a Mother to Another operated on a shoestring budget and relied on social media such as blogs, twitter and Instagram to raise awareness and secure donations. This approach has been highly effective. Invitees to the launch event included a number of influential ‘mummy bloggers’ who started to raise awareness of the campaign. The use of social media tools such as an organised Tweetathon generated momentum. Most successfully we used a Storify live feed to capture highlights of the the campaign, made up of stories and photos

5) Keep it simple

From a Mother to Another has a simple message and a clear call to act. This clarity and the ease of the requested action has enabled it to reach a large audience cost effectively. From a Mother to Another is the circular economy in action – but we have avoided all reference to this in our communications as we did not want to complicate the simplicity of the campaign.