Sustainability seems like a trend to some, but to others, it’s a way of life. Individuals across the world are changing how they shop, eat and sleep to hold themselves accountable in eliminating climate change. It’s no surprise that mindsets are shifting on a large scale. Businesses have recognized the roles they play in contributing to environmental damage, and they’re adjusting their practices to lessen the strain.
Greywater recycling, reduced plastic production and ethical farmer treatment are all conventional and effective methods for creating change. Many businesses will agree that any good sustainable initiative addresses multiple levels besides environmental — including ethical working conditions and fair pay. Do their techniques hurt ecosystems or threaten vulnerable animals? Raw, organic ingredients from the Amazon rainforest sound appealing, but what do residents and native species undergo as a result?
Caring about life occurs within several dimensions — economic, social and environmental. The three remain closely intertwined, and divorcing one means neglecting another. Brands can earn customer trust by implementing comprehensive green programs that effectively address all three issues. By developing efforts that tangibly transform the planet, companies gain respect amongst peers and customers.
As the outcry for acknowledgment of climate change grows louder, consumers speak more clearly with their wallets. Many of them are putting their money to good use and supporting sustainable companies that prove their environmentally conscious ways. People want to trust that their money is going to reputable, morally sound sources. Letting your spending reflect your personal views, particularly with environmental causes, has risen in practice among younger generations.
Allowing toxic companies to grow richer only adds to the problem. When a significant portion of pollution and resource depletion comes from corporations, it’s only common sense to start protesting with your money. Millennials are more likely to pay more for green products in comparison to Gen X and baby boomers, and it’s safe to predict Gen Z will follow suit. A Nielsen survey revealed how each generation judges environmental conservation in terms of “extremely” or “very” important:
- Millennials: Millennials rank the highest at 85% — these respondents believe environmentalism is a core concern for all, and companies need to pull their weight.
- Baby boomers: Though many see baby boomers as being stuck in time, they aren’t far behind. Seventy-two percent of respondents believe company conservation efforts should come to the forefront.
- Gen X: Gen X’ers hover in the middle of both generations at 79%, though they still clock in at a higher percentage than those aged 65 and up.
- Gen Z: Gen Z comes in at 80% — incrementally higher than Gen X but still ranking among the top two, along with millennials.
No matter which industry you look to, you’ll find an array of businesses petitioning a common cause in various ways. With so much diversity, consumers don’t have to tolerate business practices that don’t align with their views. It’s easier than ever to turn to the next best thing, whether that’s in cars, laundry detergent or olive oil.
How Industries are Adapting
Sustainable business looks different for every company. This reason is why brands must consider their overall message and mission before jumping into the green wave. Without analyzing the potential profit and the brand’s reputation, pulling off a disingenuine effort for the sake of money or popularity will go wrong. Many brands, however, are taking adequate time to learn about sustainability and introduce it within their respective industries.
For example, winemaking companies have adopted a variety of labels to show their dedication to healthier wines — organic, biodynamic and sustainable. Winemakers create sustainable wines from grapes grown with drip irrigation and solar power, and some harvest them only at night. Sulfites, pesticides and fertilizers fade in favor and become less prominent when growing organic grapes. Because of numerous sustainable certifications — such as EMS and Certified California Sustainable Vineyard and Winery — every winemaker proves their greenness differently.
Coffee brands make green claims such as Fair Trade Certified and Rainforest Alliance Certified, while eggs arrive on shelves with labels like “cage-free” or “free-range.” Sustainable clothing brands swap harmful dyes and energy-intensive fabrics for recycled materials they can reuse again. Water waste remains a significant problem with processing cotton, but some companies integrate less wasteful practices or substitute standard cotton for other fabrics.
What’s In Store for the Future
The future holds infinite expansion for brands looking to revamp their methodologies. Companies will continue searching for ways to adapt to consumer needs — some more authentically than others. Businesses who’ve yet to make the sustainable switch will either have to change or trail behind in an ever-expanding green landscape. Consumers know what they want and aren’t afraid to ask for it. If one company doesn’t budge to their requests, there are always plenty of others to patronize.
Businesses will need to prioritize legitimacy as they move forward with seeking green certifications. Harvesting palm oil displaces orangutans and destroys forests no matter which green label people apply to the process. Some coffee brands have received criticism for touting Fair Trade labels while doing little to ensure the ethical treatment of farmers. And while organic cotton sounds promising in name, consumers have raised issues about it producing excess water wastage, bringing back the main concerns of regular cotton.
You’ll begin seeing more brands opening positions such as Chief of Environmental Operations or Director of Sustainable Marketing as the movement grows. Becoming less resource-wasteful is challenging when your company knows little about environmental conservation — that’s why bringing in fresh perspectives is necessary. Doing this provides much-needed jobs, and it allows companies to expand their knowledge through firsthand expertise. It’s a win for everyone.
Businesses Make Way for Sustainable Consumerism
Many individuals and companies alike have added sustainability to their list of concerns. Temperatures rise and animals die off, and it’s up to everyone to think more deeply about how they contribute to this. Organizations that uphold the core values of being green earn themselves a spot in consumers’ good graces. And while this is important for revenue and leads, it’s equally significant for the living beings who benefit from it.