Unilever launches Project Sunlight

Unilever launches a new long-term initiative, Unilever Project Sunlight, to motivate millions to live sustainably.

In following up its pioneering Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, the consumer goods company, the maker of many much-loved brands, including Dove, Lipton, Suave, Hellmann’s, Q-tips, Vaseline and Ragu, wants to make sustainable living desirable and achievable by inspiring people to look at the possibilities of a world where everyone lives well and within the natural limits of the planet.

Project Sunlight, which follows the sun by launching first at dawn in Indonesia, then India, the U.K., and Brazil before culminating in the U.S., is designed to appeal to people everywhere, and in particular parents, encouraging them to join what Unilever sees as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations.

“Project Sunlight aims to galvanize and build momentum behind a movement that is already happening. We know people all over the world want to adopt more sustainable behaviors, but need these to be easy and to fit with the way they live their lives,” said Kees Kruythoff, President, Unilever, North America. 

“As a global consumer goods company that touches the two billion people who use our products every day, we have the means to help people realize this ambition. From our experience, we know that parenthood creates a profound shift in people’s view of the world and what the anticipated future will mean for the lives of their children.”

To mark the launch of Project Sunlight on Universal Children’s Day, Unilever will be helping two million children through its ongoing partnerships. This funding will give:

  • School meals to one million children through the World Food Programme, which provides strong incentive to send kids to school rather to work in the fields
  • Clean, safe drinking water for up to 500,000 children in emergency response programs through Save the Children
  • Improved hygiene through UNICEF, which will give 500,000 children across 3,500 schools in India a healthier start in life by providing hand washing facilities and promoting group hand washing programs

Additionally, this holiday season in the U.S., Unilever is partnering with Feeding America to donate an additional two million meals to help the 1 in 5 children who face food insecurity every day in America.

“Becoming a mom has naturally affected how I look at the future and the possibilities it holds for my son,” said Fergie. “Suddenly, every act, every event has more meaning. He makes me want to be better, do better and make the world a better place – for him and for children everywhere. That’s why it is important for me to be a part of the global launch of Unilever Project Sunlight.”

In the first stage of Project Sunlight, Unilever is inviting people to take three simple actions: SEE, ACT, JOIN.

Unilever wants to help people SEE a brighter future by watching a film online. The film, especially commissioned by Unilever and directed by Academy Award winning director Errol Morris, inspires people to see the future in a more positive and optimistic way.

Unilever wants to encourage people to ACT by doing small things which, added together, contribute to a better society and environment. The company created an online hub, projectsunlight.us, to showcase the social mission stories of Unilever brands around the world and invite people to get involved in doing small things that help their own families, help others and help the planet. 

Some of the brand programs featured include Dove, which helps girls across the world improve their self-esteem; Lipton, Ragu and Knorr, whose increasing use of sustainably grown ingredients helps small farmers grow better crops and improve their livelihoods; and the Suave water conservation initiative, Turn off the Tap.

Ultimately, the company wants people to JOIN by registering on projectsunlight.us to become part of a growing community of likeminded people and organizations who all want to play their part in building a brighter future.

Project Sunlight has been informed by the wealth of Unilever consumer insight, including a new international piece of research commissioned by Unilever. This shows that children are key to motivating adults to want to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and a powerful influence on parents changing their behavior. 

Nine out of 10 parents say children’s natural optimism and enthusiasm inspires them to make the world a better place, and seven out of 10 parents say their main motivation for wanting to live in a greener way is their children’s future. The research also shows that there are key child-related moments, particularly around the birth of a first child, when people are more open to changes in their own behaviors and lifestyles.

“We chose the name Sunlight as a tribute to our founder William Lever, whose audacious vision 130 years ago to ‘make cleanliness commonplace’ with Sunlight soap inspired our equally ambitious purpose today: to make sustainable living commonplace. Sunlight also reflects the sense of possibility and optimism which characterizes the Unilever approach,” adds Kruythoff. 

“We believe that large companies like ours have to be part of the solution to the problems the world is facing. Adopting sustainable lifestyles and people using their purchasing power to make consumption choices that are good for them and good for the world are important factors in the drive to reduce social inequality and avert the worst predictions for the planet –and to make sustainable living commonplace.”

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Notes to Editors

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan was launched in 2010. It has three ambitious goals, all to be achieved by 2020:

  1. To help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and wellbeing
  2. To halve the environmental footprint of our products across the value chain, not just those relating to manufacturing or within our direct control
  3. To source 100% of their agricultural raw materials sustainably

By the end of 2012, two years in to our 10 year plan, Unilever has:

  • Reached 224 million people with safe drinking water and behavior change programmes. These are helping to reduce diarrheal and respiratory disease through handwashing with soap, improve oral health, and improve self-esteem among young people
  • Reduced greenhouse gases by 6% across the value chain
  • Sourced 36% of their agricultural raw materials sustainably, training around 450,000 smallholder farmers in the process

About Save the Children

Save the Children works in more than 120 countries. They save children's lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfil their potential. For more information visit: www.savethechildren.org.uk Through Project Sunlight, Unilever’s funding will help Save the Children to give clean and safe drinking water for up to 500,000 children in emergency response programmes.

Justin Forsyth, Chief Executive, Save the Children: “Together, Save the Children and Unilever are helping to save children’s lives through improving access to life-saving health care, training health workers and delivering high-impact nutrition programmes. Through Project Sunlight, our ground breaking work together continues to save lives.”


UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit www.unicef.org. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Tim Hunter, UNICEF Deputy Director of Fundraising: “Unilever’s support to UNICEF’s sanitation programs has already made a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of children, and the funding from this new initiative will help reach a further 500,000 children. By supporting us in providing hand washing facilities and promoting group hand washing programs across 3,500 schools in India, Project Sunlight will be helping these children to have a healthy start in life.”

About World Food Programme

WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Last year, WFP reached more than 97 million people in 80 countries with food assistance. Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media.

Jay Aldous, head of WFP's Private Partnerships Division: "With Unilever's ongoing support, the World Food Programme is playing a vital role in protecting the next generation by providing nutritious food to pregnant mothers or women of child-bearing age and delivering the right food to growing children so that they can realise their full intellectual and physical potential. For the next generation, a sustainable future is the only kind of future worth living.”

Jeff Graubard

+1 201 894 7760

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