As more and more people are slowly waking up to the idea that climate change is real and a major world issue; it’s important to ask whether the businesses that we all use on a daily basis are doing enough to operate in a sustainable way and persuade their consumers to act more responsibly too. There are a lot of new initiatives being put in place by companies to show that they are stepping up and taking this issue seriously, but are they really doing enough?
Is it enough to emblazon the fact that you are reducing carbon your carbon footprint on the side of your lorries or has it reached the point where we need more action than that? Perhaps companies should have to release real evidence that this is the case instead of simply claiming it to so. It’s all very well that businesses are playing their part but we need actions rather than words.
So what are businesses doing to prove that they are taking environmental issues seriously? Well the widest spread initiative and one that is very prominent from a consumer point of view has to be carrier bags.
Many companies have now started charging for plastic bags and have given their customers many more options when it comes to ‘bags for life’. There has also been a push on making these bags more marketable and desirable for the people using them. I can’t help thinking that an extra step is needed though.
There are still so many one-use bags being produced, serving their limited purpose and then being discarded (irresponsibly I might add). Surely it would make more sense to do away with these all together, forcing consumers to use reusable bags or face an elaborate juggle back to their car.
Other initiatives by the big brands include Coca Cola’s water safety schemes, EBay’s consistent focus on recycling in local communities and Ford, who have highlighted no less than 10 reasons why they consider themselves to be sustainable. However, it did take a bit of research to discover these, so is that a PR issue or are these initiatives really having as much impact as expected?
Another area in which we have seen a lot of change in recent times is product packaging. In previous years companies have come under scrutiny for their use of unnecessary amounts of packaging as well as the use of large amounts of unrecyclable materials. However things are gradually changing for the better and we can now see a new line of more sustainably packaged products gracing our supermarket shelves.
Not only are products now being encased in less packaging but we are also seeing new materials being used and new ways of packaging products being introduced. For example, British supermarket Waitrose have just entered into a scheme which will look at how Welsh ryegrass can be used to create responsible packaging; something that could prove a major breakthrough in years to come.
Similarly, tin companies all over the world could soon be using a new type of packaging called the Pressitin that reduces carbon emissions during production due to the fact that it doesn’t require a machine for it to be sealed. It is also infinitely recyclable and tamperproof.
However, the problem arises when you look at how products that are packaged in this way are being sold. Can businesses really say they are doing enough to be green if they are charging consumers more for products that are responsibly sourced and enveloped?
Evidently it is not just the businesses that are standing in the way of the green revolution as consumers need to take a certain amount of responsibility as well, and there seems to a bit of a tug of war happening on this issue. Companies are of the opinion that if consumers were to purchase ‘greener’ products more often then they could afford to reduce the prices on these but consumers see it as a case of the products not needing to be so highly priced in the first place.
If I refer back to the earlier point regarding plastic carrier bags then there is further evidence of the need for consumers to embrace environmental issues more. It is easy to say that businesses shouldn’t be offering plastic bags so readily but it is us as consumers that are freely choosing to use them when there are clearly other more responsible options available.
If green living continues to not be fully ingratiated by the consumer in this way then initiatives are going to be harder and harder to introduce. At some point the tug of war needs to evolve into a more co-operative approach.