Has consumer behaviour changed and do more shoppers now opt for an eco-friendly and sustainable choice?

JULY 2021


How is customer behaviour changing today?

It is a fact that, over the last two or three years or so, consumers have become much more conscious about the shopping choices they make.

In 2017, the David Attenborough TV series, Blue Planet II, was broadcast which attracted an audience of some 17 million people, all of whom saw how much damage plastic pollution was causing to the oceans of the world. This led to social media feeds trending about ways to reduce plastic waste and ultimately the series became a catalyst for the change in the way consumers behave. As a result of the growing awareness, the issue entered the political arena leading to cotton buds, wet wipes and plastic straws being banned.

The following year the momentum gathered when 15 year old Greta Thunberg won a writing competition run by a Swedish newspaper for her essay on climate change. Later in the year, she began to protest outside the parliament building in Stockholm which inspired young people all around the globe to take action too. Environmental campaigners claim that eventually over 1.4 million young people joined in the school strikes to support Greta and her campaign for climate action.

The circular economy that leads to zero waste

The concept of zero waste and a circular economy were features of a book published in 2013 by first time author, Bea Johnson, entitled ‘The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Waste’. She suggested that the creation of a circular economy would lead to a reduction in waste and that the best way to follow the principles of zero waste was to remember the five ‘R’s

  1. Refuse – say no to any food that is wrapped in plastic
  2. Reduce – always think before buying anything
  3. Reuse – when something breaks, either repair it yourself or have it repaired
  4. Recycle – if you embrace the three steps above then really there shouldn’t be much left but what there is, make sure you separate it out and put what can be recycled into the appropriate bin
  5. Rot – if you compost all your food waste, you can use this to fertilise the garden

The more people become aware of environmental issues, the more people have embraced the zero waste principles.

And this has affected how businesses operate as they realise the need to appeal to consumers’ new attitude by being seen to address the impact on the environment their operations have. An easy way for them to achieve this is to come to us here at The Green Alchemist and use our marketplace to find a buyer or seller of the recycled materials they either need or need to dispose of.

As one of the five principles of zero waste, recycling supports the circular economy by making sure that as little waste as possible reaches landfill and instead re-enters manufacturing processes to make consumer goods thus enabling the enter cycle to begin again.

Customers are increasingly seeking out businesses that show they care about the environment and are doing their bit to achieve zero waste.

Does environmental awareness influence the behaviour of consumers?

Indeed it does because, alongside the increasing understanding of the effect that purchasing choices have on the environment, there is also a growing number of shops that offer alternative sustainable options and operate as zero waste shops.

These shops help customers who wish to reduce the amount of plastic packaging involved in their shopping by offering goods in dispensers that customers can fill their own containers with. This includes dried goods as well as liquids like cleaning agents, shampoos and washing up liquid. More often than not, they will also offer alternative products that are eco-friendly such as toothbrushes made from bamboo.

Zero waste shops on the whole not only adopt a holistic approach that is kinder but also embrace a far less aggressive business style too and this does appeal to those customers seeking sustainable options. Furthermore, these shops frequently seek to give something back to the community in which they are located by supporting environmental campaigns, for example by pledging to plant a tree for each sale made or giving a small percentage of their annual profit to a chosen charity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a substantial number of businesses to move their operations online and they are using digital marketing agencies to do this successfully. An agency like Why Matters helps owners of Shopify stores to promote themselves as a green business and also has robust core values of its own that appeal to businesses that are eco-friendly.

In summary

All of the above does signify that consumer behaviour is indeed changing and this is reinforced by an article published recently by Deloittes entitled “Shifting sands: How consumer behaviour is embracing sustainability” which notes that:

  • 43% of consumers choose brands because of their environmental stance
  • 34% of consumers opt for brands that have proven ethical credentials
  • Two thirds of consumers have now reduced the amount of single use plastics they use

So, the momentum of the change in consumer behaviour is gathering pace as more and more people seek the most sustainable options and prefer to find businesses with an eco-friendly approach that can be seen to be giving back to the community too.

Like what you hear? Contact us to get the ball rolling.