6 Tips for being a more Sustainable Consumer
Be a shopper who supports sustainable, ethical manufacturing practices
Consumers make an impact through their shopping habits by being a shopper who supports sustainable, ethical manufacturing practices.
There are several ways to be more eco-friendly in your everyday life by supporting companies that are ethical and sustainable. The move to sustainability in industry is driven by consumer demand, and that’s where you can make a greater impact.
You can add sustainability to your list of ‘must-have’ features for your everyday purchases. There are several consumer websites which rate companies and products according to their ethical and environmental records. This can help you decide which companies to support.
Focus on Quality
Think about foregoing the two-for-one special or prices that seem too good to be true. Poor quality items can be landfill fodder that cost you more in the long run as they need to be constantly replaced. Instead, consider buying quality products that last so you save money and help the environment too.
Keep it Local
Consider shopping from local producers as this gives you the opportunity to ask questions and do research into how items are produced. Local items likely have a smaller carbon footprint because they haven’t traveled long distances to get to you. And, supporting local farmers, producers and manufacturers means you bolster the economy in your community.
We shouldn’t have to pay more just because a product is made more sustainably. Sustainability generally leads organizations to innovation and improvement that can drive costs down, so even if they pay more for sustainable raw materials, they can make up for that added cost by reducing costs in operations and disposal. All things being “relatively equal”, buy Green!
There are a number of certifications which provide indications that the products you are buying are eco-friendly.
When buying wood or paper products, you can look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo which tells you the product was sustainably sourced. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification mark on your seafood means you are buying responsibly caught fish and you can also shop ‘organic’ for your fresh food and meat.
EnergyStar indicates appliances that are energy efficient and items that carry the Fair Trade seal meet the internationally agreed social, environmental and economic Fairtrade Standards.
Many consumers are now engaging with their favorite brands to see what steps they are taking to be more environmentally friendly. Get more involved with the products you purchase to learn about the company’s commitment to people and planet. It’s always good to buy from companies that do good.
There is significant efforts across plastics industry segments to connect their “eco supply chains” to enhance CSR “Corporate Social Responsibility” initiatives which include green initiatives, sustainability, and efforts to eliminate unethical practices in extended Supply Chains. An emphasis on connecting social responsibility is one of the biggest Supply Chain trends this year, not only in the plastics space, but across many industries, with businesses more than ever focused on reducing their environmental impact. The trend has proven to have positive net impacts in return on assets. So why all these efforts? Who’s really driving CSR?
Here’s why … Collective behavior has tipped towards sustainability and we’re starting to see, in the performance of leading companies, much closer relationships between the companies and their suppliers and customers up and down the value chain. Business leaders today have more of an outside-in focus based on what their end customers require. We talk to many companies and executives and the wide majority confirm, the collective consumer community is pushing companies in the direction of social and environmental responsibility. In terms of recycling and sustainability, plastics industry leaders are listening and connecting their supply chains and choosing supply chain partners that meet their customer’s needs.
With this new trend in the fore front, theirs an aggressive pursuit to connect internal sustainability with external sustainability. Many businesses now focus on end-to-end connected Supply Chains, with better process and coordination between raw material selection, packaging optimization, operational efficiency, all connected to corporate communications and brand strategy that reach and communicate with the consumer.
To maximize sustainable efforts, developing and connecting an Eco Supply Chain becomes critical, and when it functions circularly with stakeholders rowing in the same direction together towards the consumer, efforts not only impact bottom line cost and efficiency, they impact Top Line and brand value. To achieve more impactful economic results, supply chain decisions that in the past were made internally-operationally are now made with the customer in mind as well. Successful companies pursuing CSR including sustainability, focus on collaboration and orchestration, with closer end-to-end integration of the Supply Chain.
Case in point, plastics manufactures interested in recycling their plastic waste historically focused on price per pound to achieve the most value, whereas today many plastics manufacturers think more strategically, connecting the recycling of their plastic scrap into partnerships with humanitarian related products and products that connect their brands to purposeful meaningful causes. Instead of just selling plastic scrap at a price, plastics companies are thinking in terms of “social partnerships” with other manufacturers using their recycled plastics more resourcefully to make new meaningful purposeful products. As result these manufacturers are seeing multiple levels of value creation over and above price per pound selling their scrap, including brand recognition which impacts Top Line and brand value.
That same trend and strategy is impacting the purchasing side of our plastic industry as well, with manufactures looking to purchase recycled plastic resins that are made from strategically sourced materials that add value above price per pound. Adidas and Dell are two great examples, sourcing recycle grade plastic resins made from plastic scrap collected from our oceans. That strategic approach enabled Adidas and Dell to leverage their raw material sourcing efforts in the market to connect strongly with the consumer, thus achieving bottom line, Top Line and brand growth.
I’ve mentioned many times to clients why businesses need to leverage their recycling & sustainability initiatives in the market, as part of their CSR “corporate social responsibility” platform. “Doing good without communicating good may not be good enough”.
There’s mountains of evidence today that “doing good” isn’t just good for our planet & for mankind … it’s also good for business and fast becoming the expected norm by consumers.
When it comes to sustainability and recycling, businesses are increasingly coming to understand the power of communicating their purposeful activities. Unilever and Proctor & Gamble, two of the world’s biggest brand marketers, both recognize that doing good (corporate social responsibility) has a hugely positive impact on brand value & Top Line growth.
The 2013 Cone Communications/Echo global corporate social responsibility (CSR) report showed that:
- 91% of global consumers are likely to switch brands to one that supports a good cause, given similar price and quality.
- 92% of consumers would buy a product with a social and/or environmental benefit if given the opportunity, and more than two-thirds (67%) have done so in the past 12 months.
Global consumers have definitive expectations for the role companies should play in addressing social and environmental issues, and are avidly considering CSR in a variety of decisions:
- Just 6% of consumers believe the singular purpose of business is to make money for shareholders.
- 91% of consumers believe companies must go beyond the minimum standards required by law to operate responsibly.
- More than 8 in 10 consider CSR when deciding where to work (81%), what to buy or where to shop (87%), and which products & services to recommend to others (85%).
Don’t get lulled by just stats! In today’s uber Social Media environment, many companies look to utilize connected supply chains that link their recycling and sustainability practices to their corporate communications strategies, to both maximize their sustainability efforts internally and to leverage and showcase their sustainability in the market with employees, customer, and consumers.
We work with many companies helping them to recycle their plastic waste, or make their products using a % of recycled plastic resins, or optimize and reuse their packaging, and in every case we tell our clients how important it is to connect and promote their sustainability and recycling practices to their customers, employees, and consumers. Doing good is not merely a “nice to do”… it’s an essential component for businesses impacting your bottom line, top line, and brand value.