Sustainability means different things to different people, sometimes dependent on where they work or their outlook on life. For many it means all things environmental, others take into account more social or economic aspects. Personally I think you need to consider all three areas, as they are all interlinked and focusing on sustainability can improve efficiency across the board.
But that’s a big message to sell to consumers, to businesses, to most people who often do not consider sustainability when buying products or services. Yes we’ve made great strides in recycling but many only consider the impact of that product when it comes to the end of its life. And will only recycle it if it’s easy to do so.
But to take a greater sustainable approach requires looking across the whole supply chain, from the raw materials required to manufacture and package a product, to the transportation and storage used before it is sold. How often do we take into account the human element, the pay and conditions of the workers who produce all these consumer goods that we yearn for?
These issues get raised when the media report on factory fires or if there is a growing number of suicides from one facility. And despite some elements in the clothing industry pushing a more green agenda there is still a yearning for purchasing the latest fashion trends, some which get updated on a monthly basis. We are bombarded with messages constantly throughout our waking life of the need to consume.
Many feel they are doing their bit by recycling, which is great, but we need to build on this. How many know that the greater environmental impact in a fizzy drink is not the container it comes in but the amount of water used to produce it? More of us are now ‘turning to 30’, helping to lessen the environmental impact when using laundry products – the biggest impact in this particular supply chain when used by the consumer in the home.
We need more simple campaigns like ‘Turn to 30’
We need to rethink our messaging as one size doesn’t fit all and different aspects will affect people in different ways.We need more of these simple, believable messages that people will act upon. But changing peoples’ behaviour is a lengthy process – the Drink/Drive campaigns are testament to that. Those firms and organisations that take sustainability seriously incorporate their approach into their business planning, it’s an integrated part of the business, not a bolt on.
Should businesses be doing more to provide sustainable solutions within their products and services so that it just becomes the norm? So the consumer knows that whatever she buys will tick all the sustainable boxes relevant to her, or if sustainability is not on her radar it doesn’t matter, the overall impact has been lessened.
The PWC report is a timely reminder that sustainability is continually evolving. This applies not just to packaging but all other products and services as well.