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Green Consumerism in Australia

Is green consumerism important to business?

The concept of green consumerism is based on the notion of green or green-er businesses. Businesses which are responding more and more to the demands of consumers for products and services that are environmentally friendly.  A broad definition of green business is business which has no negative impact on the local or global environment, or indeed on humans or the community. Many enterprises are in transition towards the concept of “genuine greenness,” so they are currently green-er businesses.  Our consumers are savvy, and watching with interest.

Nowadays people are educated about the environment and the importance of biodiversity. Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries on the planet. Never the less, we already have extinct species of plants and animals, and many more which are endangered.  We have extremes of weather due to climate change, and pollution and waste are problematic. We have land and water degradation.  

People know all this, and are starting to get very discerning about where they spend their dollars.  So yes, green consumerism is a thing.  If it comes to a choice between similar products, green consumers will likely choose the product they see as more eco-friendly, perhaps even paying a little more for a green or greener  product.

The green transition is happening at an extraordinary rate. Almost all large companies/multinationals are on their journey towards becoming eco-friendly and sustainable. Such as Amazon (commitment to The Climate Pledge, carbon neutral by 2040), Google (aiming for carbon free by 2030), and Apple (similar commitment). For most companies it is still a work in progress, involving tree-planting, switching to renewable energies, recycling, planning for fully electric fleets, looking at their full upstream supply chain ethics, and so on.

Some companies have been working on improving their sustainability for years – to name a very small number: Ikea, Nokia, BMW, Johnson & Johnson, and Infosys Ltd (a winner in the United Nations 2019 Global Climate Action Awards in the “Climate Neutral Now” category).  

The Australian courier company Transdirect parcel delivery services are certified carbon neutral. They therefore offer their clients – who are merchants -the option to use their 100% Carbon Neutral Delivery badges on their websites or social channels to let customers know that they’ll be receiving a carbon-neutral delivery. Win-win situation, at least in respect of shipping!

Many companies offer some eco-friendly choices to their consumers, for example most don’t offer 100% sustainable packaging yet, but put the onus onto the customer to make the choice of the non-plastic, non-polystyrene product.  Australia Post is an example of this approach.

Shopify has recently been attracting green consumers with its headline

“Our Mobile Shopping App Protects Trees Every Time You Checkout with Shop Pay”.  In this case, the carbon emissions related to a customer’s delivery are calculated, Shopify purchases the relevant amount of carbon credits, which are then paid into the Brazil Nut Concession Forest Conservation Project, in Peru. At no cost to the buyer or the merchant.  In addition – a bit of added value – Shopify customers can track their carbon footprint and the offset project trees saved, via their mobile app, and feel good about themselves.

Another win-win situation.

Green marketing

Green marketing will definitely nudge more consumers towards your products.

Terms that appear almost everywhere on packaging or in marketing include safe, eco-friendly, climate-friendly, sustainable, reduce carbon footprint….. “green” seems to be the generic or over-arching term.

Green marketing though involves more than simply presenting an environmentally friendly product, as such.

The power of the right sustainability messaging

The reason to ensure continuous improvement of our greenness (concurrent with saving the planet!!) is that many informed consumers now look at the whole life cycle of products.  It’s becoming more and more likely that a consumer doesn’t just consciously buy “a product”, but also everything that went into its production, it’s packaging and delivery, and everything that will happen in the future as a result of that product (eg the effect on factory workers or landfill). With respect to delivery options alone, Greenbiz explains the outcomes of their recent research – project green button – on their website: “our research shows that given the right choices, many consumers will opt for green deliveries, and such a brand-enhancing offering could differentiate e-commerce retailers in an intensely competitive marketplace”.

Clean green or green sheen?

A quick look at the website of most large companies will reveal that environment policies and practices are in place, and they often have big plans for the future, such as a complete change to electric delivery vehicles by 2030.  In fact business is leading the way in many cases, ahead of government.

While companies are using environmental claims more and more to appeal to consumers, they are also attracting greater scrutiny.  Many authentically eco -friendly brands are voluntarily turning to certifying agencies to legitimize their claims to further differentiate themselves from companies who just have a “green sheen”.  The Climatop label certifies products that generate significantly less greenhouse gas than comparable products. In Australia we have the program called Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) which is Australia’s only multi-sector eco-labelling program that enables buyers to clearly see and purchase goods or services that have a lower impact on the environment and human health, are ethically made, and fit for purpose.

It’s becoming the standard, that companies recognize the cost savings and potential profitability, of going green.

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