Environmental awareness, once enjoyed only by a niche group within society, has mushroomed in the last decade so that today it directly drives changes in consumers’ purchasing behaviors. Only 30 years ago, the terms “climate change” and “sustainability” were barely recognized. But today, fewer consumers remain unaware of these terms. In many cases, this awareness translates into action.
Two-thirds of consumers consciously choose to avoid specific brands or items due to environmental concerns, a figure that has increased by 26% in the last six years, according to Tetra Pak’s latest environmental research, which involved surveying 6,000 consumers across 12 countries, including the U.S. The transition from consumer concern to consumer action is driving positive change in industry, with global companies such as Unilever, Coca-Cola and Danone making sustainability central to their brands’ core values.
Beyond our research, we see a number of factors driving this acceleration in environmental awareness. First, the unrelenting campaigning of global influencers, the media and international institutions like the World Bank, has called for government, industry and society to act together to adapt to the limits imposed by the finite quantity of natural resources. This effort may be working: Recently, 13 of the largest U.S. companies backed President Obama’s quest to tackle U.S. carbon emissions. Their commitment shows the impact of consumers’ environmental awareness and how shoppers’ voting with their dollars gets results.
Second, the digital revolution has led to a world more connected than ever before; according to the Pew Research Center, 64% of Americans own smartphones, a number nearly doubled in four years. Widespread access to the Internet and new media means consumers have greater access to information, and companies may be held to greater standards of transparency and accountability.
Taking Action for the Planet
The result of having greater information access and knowledge is that consumers today, particularly those with children, feel greater responsibility to look after the planet for future generations. And more importantly, it means consumers feel empowered to take action, and this shapes the way they buy products across a range of industries, generating market opportunities.
For example, organic food sales have increased from “$3.6 billion in 1997 to over $39 billion in 2014” across the U.S. marketplace, while global sales of electric cars doubled every year between 2012-2014, notes the Organic Trade Association. Within the food and beverage industry, 39% of consumers said the environment has high influence on the beverage brand they buy, according to our research. Two-thirds said they bought environmental products–even if they cost more.
Making The Triple Bottom Line A Reality
Industry leaders foresaw this trend and incorporated concern for the environment as a central part of their business strategies. For some organizations, the “triple bottom line” of people, planet and profit envisioned in the early 1990s is becoming a reality. Our research shows 93% of food manufacturers and retailers worldwide have environmental initiatives. These include ensuring product recyclability, looking at manufacturing equipment and operations to minimize waste and energy consumption and incorporating responsibly sourced materials. Much of the industry is focused on using responsibly sourced materials, with some companies, including Tetra Pak, taking the practice a step further and making renewability–the use of materials that can be regrown or replenished over time–a key element in product differentiation.
Despite these advances, last year, 65% of U.S. consumers believed companies do not pay enough attention to the environment, according to an Ipsos global poll. That may be a sign that more needs to be done or that businesses are not doing enough to communicate their environmental initiatives, regardless of what spurred those activities, be it consumer action or business needs to lower costs or secure supply chains.
This presents an unprecedented opportunity for companies to show their contributions in supporting environmental sustainability through research, innovation and product design. Packaging serves a dual role for businesses and consumers. First, it is part of the environmental solution and needs to be consistent with a product’s distinctive selling proposition–the natural properties of a food or beverage product should not clash with the environmental attributes of its packaging. Our research shows that over three-quarters of consumers are more likely to consider a brand using sustainable materials instead of standard packaging, with cartons among the preferred choice.
Second, packaging is a channel to communicate environmental credentials. According to our research, 7 of 10 consumers actively look for environmental information on packaging, compared with less than four in 2009. More than half say that logos, such as those of the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC™) or the Mobius Loop, which shows a circle of arrows to indicate a package is recyclable, are useful to understand a package’s environmental impact and make the brand more appealing.
Acting In Response To Consumer Environmental Concern
As concern for the environment continues to influence buying behavior, it will increasingly drive change within corporate America. While environmental actions may have been traditionally driven by business strategies to reduce costs, increase efficiencies or ensure future growth, consumer awareness and purchasing power will drive corporations further. Strong environmental credentials are no longer a “nice-to-have” but soon can become a business imperative. The Internet’s ubiquity means consumers can research businesses and more easily hold them accountable. Thus, communicating the action taken becomes as important as the sustainability initiatives themselves.
Using sustainable packaging is a win-win situation for the people and the environment alike. Seeing companies respond to consumers’ environmental concerns clearly demonstrates power to the people in action.
Think your pet(s) isn’t being affected by toxic chemicals in your home? Think again. What if I told you that dogs and cats are polluted with higher levels of some of the same synthetic industrial chemicals found in people? The most comprehensive (and first of its kind) investigation conducted by scientists at EWG, Polluted Pets, measured the levels of toxic industrial chemical contaminates in companion animals.
The results were shocking.
Scientists detected 35 chemicals on average (including plasticizers, grease-proof chemicals, and fire retardants) in dogs; eleven of which were carcinogens, 31 toxic to the reproductive system and 24 neurotoxins. These chemicals were found at 40% higher levels than in humans.
Notably higher levels of fire retardants, plasticizers, and grease-proofing chemicals were found in cats. 46 chemicals in total were detected at 96% at higher levels than found in people: nine were carcinogens, 40 harmful to the reproductive system, 34 neurotoxic and 15 damaging to the endocrine system.
It goes without saying that reducing your pets toxic exposure begins at home with you. In addition to healthy food and avoiding nonstick cookware, here are seven surefire tips to get started on the right, um – paw.
1.) WATER & BOWLS
Are you serving up tap water for your beloved furry friends? There are countless chemical and biological pollutants in tap water, many untested and untreated by your municipal water department.
Implement an inexpensive faucet-mounted filter or filtered pitcher to reduce contaminants.
Also, pass on the plastic when it comes to bowls since the plastic chemicals can break down and migrate into food and water. Look instead for stainless steel, ceramic or bamboo alternatives. Bamboo Bowls for are made from renewable resources – 100% natural plant dye, bamboo and cooked rice husks. Plus, they’re biodegradable and dishwasher safe.
Many dog toys are made with PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and phthalates (synthetic chemicals used to soften the plastic). The breakdown products of four types of phthalates were discovered at higher levels in dogs than found in the majority humans tested. Even plush toys can contain synthetic pesticides and toxic dyes.
Simply Fido is a wonderful brand that offers certified nontoxic and certified organic plush toys that use low impact dyes, free of toxic chemicals.
3.) PET BEDS
Most traditional pet beds are made from petroleum-based foam, which can contain flame retardant and grease-proofing chemicals.
Pamper your pooch with safe, organic materials. My favorite is the Kingston Luxury Dog Bed which offers optimal pressure relief and support via a shredded natural latex memory foam with washable cover. Also, the Simply Fido Organic Cotton Crate Mats are great for travel. They’re certified non-toxic, chemical free, colored with non-toxic, low impact dyes and made from certified organic cotton.
4.) FLOORS & CLEANERS
Keep in mind that pets are close to the floor. They absorb the dust down there (which can contain arsenic, lead and DDT). As cats meticulously groom themselves, they lick off accumulated dust that studies reveal are contaminated with the neurotoxic fire retardant PBDEs and reproductive toxins (phthalates). Also, remember to use a natural floor cleaner and avoid harsh chemicals to mop.
In addition to removing your shoes at the front door, regular wet mopping and damp dusting are advised (read: How To Defeat Dust At Home And Breathe Easier) I also suggest the Dyson Groom to capture hair and allergens from dogs between groomings.
5.) PESTICIDES & FLEA COLLARS
Avoid toxic herbicides and insecticides inside and out (read: Bug Off (Naturally)! 7 Nontoxic Pest Control Remedies. Traditional pesticides can cause nervous system damage. Pets walk across lawns and track chemicals indoors. Flea and tick collars can be another dangerous source of toxic exposure.
- Shampoo – The Alzoo Flea & Tick Repellent Shampoo for dogs protects against external parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes and maintains a healthy, shiny coat. The Isle of Dogs Flea & Tick Shampoo is a fragrance-free, natural shampoo that safely and effectively removes and repels fleas and ticks.
- Spray – Pure + Good Flea & Tick Spray; a chemical-free formula that repels fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, gnats and biting flies for up to 8 hours.
- Flea Collar – A natural repellent flea collar, the environmentally-friendly Alzoo Diffusing Cat or Dog Collar protects against lice, fleas and ticks for up to 4 months.
6.) CAT LITTER
Avoid clay cat litter which can contain silica dust and is not biodegradable. Opt instead for litter made from plant sources like naturally processed wheat or whole-kernel corn. Both are clay-free, chemical-free, and biodegradable.
World’s Best Cat Litter is a whole kernel corn option that is flushable and septic safe. Or, try natural sWheat Scoop which is made from wheat. Traveling? Try the KatPak; a disposable litter box made from recycled paper. No liners, scooping or changing litter required. It’s 100% biodegradable.
Remember, pets are part of the family. With their compressed life spans, they’re affected faster than humans from toxic exposures. It’s up to us to protect their health. Take it one step at a time and please share your favorite tip in the comments below.
via Earth 911
Milk and juice cartons aren’t just an old tradition. They’re a cost efficient and easily recyclable option!
Shelf Stable cartons can be kept on a shelf in the store until you buy and open them. You’ll find juice, certain kinds of milk, soup, even wine in shelf stable cartons. These kinds of containers are, on average, 74% paper, 22% polyethylene and 4% aluminum.
Refrigerated cartons on the other hand, need to be kept in the refrigerated section at the store and at your home. They’re made from 80% paper and 20% polyethylene.
Plastic bottles like you get orange juice and milk in can take hundreds of years to decompose. Cardboard, on the other hand, can decompose in a matter of months.
Since both kinds of cartons – shelf stable and refrigerated – are primarily paper, they’re easier to recycle than plastic. There are so many kinds of plastic, it’s more difficult for recycling centers to deal with them, and it costs more.
Since paper cartons are lightweight, and efficient in the space they use, it can be considered even better for the environment since the same amount of product can be shipped in fewer trucks. That means less fuel and less greenhouse gas emissions.
Check your city for a curbside recycling program that allows you to recycle cardboard. If they don’t offer one, you may have a cardboard recycling facility near you. You can find out more information about your options at RecycleCartons.com.
Via Earth 911