The consumer is becoming more aware of global warming and the environmental impact we are having on our planet and as a result, there has been a steady increase in sustainability. From buying fast fashion to purchasing fruit grown across the world or travelling on an aeroplane, we are having a drastic effect on our environment.
It is more and more commonplace to hear about rising emissions, the oceans warming and deforestation in the news and in our everyday lives, so it’s no wonder people are looking for a solution. Consumers are more educated on environmental issues than they have ever been, although there is always room for more education and awareness.
Over the past few years, it seems many people have felt a sense of urgency to create change and one of the best ways to do this is to look at our everyday habits and purchases. These small purchases can speak volumes and show that people want a more environmentally sustainable society and to strive for actions that will have a positive impact on communities, plants and animals around the world for future generations.
How Is Our Planet Being Affected by Consumerism?
It’s no secret that so many of our activities are having an impact on our environment and with capitalism and industry growing all over the world, those changes are becoming ever more drastic. From the cars we drive around to the clothes we buy from big brands and even the products we buy from the supermarket, everything has a knock-on effect.
CO2 is having an astounding impact, caused by travelling in cars and in aeroplanes, as well as other activities, as a result of burning fossil fuels.
Here are just some of the effects that fast fashion and other human activities have on the environment:
- Deforestation is destroying ecosystems
- Oceans and our water are becoming more polluted
- The earth and soil are being affected by landfill, chemicals and pesticides
- Overconsumption of water
- Climate change is causing warmer temperatures and more erratic weather patterns
- Air quality is becoming poorer because of burning fossil fuels
Our Mindset Around Sustainability Is Changing
Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase in people’s interest in the environment and an awareness of the detrimental effect we are having on it. The average consumer understands they need to recycle their household waste where they can and to bring reusable bags to do their food shopping.
As well as recycling and bringing reusable bags to the shops, many people are looking to do even more. They are seeing if they can find sustainable alternatives for their clothes, cosmetics and beauty products, food and household goods. For example, a Consumer survey in New Zealand found that ‘Eighty percent of Kiwis named water quality at rivers and beaches as their top concern. Packaging waste (78%) and climate change (72%) were next.’
Therefore, being eco-friendly and doing your part for the environment is a strong selling point for consumers. Because we are all very aware of the impact our daily lives have on the world around us, many consumers are willing to change their habits and strive towards social sustainability. The Consumer survey also found that ‘(73%) of global consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.’
Has This Impacted Consumer Behaviour?
Everyone has noticed the impact environmental sustainability has had on our lives. The Consumer has found that ‘taking reusable bags when they’re shopping. Two years ago, 44% did so. That’s now doubled to 88%.’
This chart shows that in the US, there has been a steady increase in the number of customers buying sustainable products. Because many of us are learning more about global warming and climate change, this is influencing what people are buying. This means that it isn’t just very eco-conscious people that are opting for environmentally friendly products, it is the average consumer as well.
How Social Influence Is Promoting Change
People can be affected and influenced by so many different things and even if many of us know that sustainability is the better option for the environment, how can we incite social change? One study exploring sustainable consumption told online shoppers that others were buying eco-friendly products, which led to a 65% increase in buying more sustainable products in that online environment.
This shows that social norms play a huge part in our psychology and decision making process. If we think others are doing the same, many others will follow suit, whether that is digitally, at a retail store or our neighbours next door. Therefore, being vocal about green issues and sustainability online goes a long way and means that all of us could make a difference. By posting on Instagram or joining Facebook groups centered around eco-friendly living, you could influence others to lead a greener lifestyle.
Are We Willing to Pay More for Eco-Friendly Products?
Not only is the average customer buying more environmentally friendly products, but this has also become a unique selling point for many brands and businesses. If something is fairtrade, vegan, or cuts down on its environmental impact in an innovative way, people are much more likely to buy it.
For many businesses that aren’t sustainable, not mentioning their environmental impact and keeping the consumer in the dark is how they can successfully promote their products. However, now customer’s mindsets, priorities and awareness is changing, being upfront about your brand and products instils trust with your audience and certainly makes you one of the good guys.
A study by Nielson has also found that sustainability in itself is a USP, as ‘(41%) of consumers from around the world say that they’re highly willing to pay more for products that contain all-natural or organic ingredients.’ Not only are environmentally products sought after, but they are also more highly valued in the eyes of consumers. No wonder then, that all organic, raw, natural and refillable brands and products are popping up all over the place and people are actively engaging with them.
This graph shows that people of different age groups are more likely to spend more on sustainable products. It also gives us an inkling into which age-groups are more clued up on environmental issues.
The world around us is changing at a rapid rate and all of this data shows that normal people want to make a difference and are turning towards eco-friendly products to do so. Being conscious of our impact on the environment is not only a USP, it is also more valued and highly sought after by customers. There are so many reasons to strive for sustainability and another one is that it creates a great reputation for your brand, makes your products more valuable and it is a sustainable business model too.
To find out more about consumers and sustainability, read the GoEthical blog. You can also buy and sell an array of sustainable, environmentally friendly and vegan products, by downloading the GoEthical App for IOS or Google Play, so take a look today.