In the past decade there has certainly been a huge increase in awareness and care about sustaining nature in the face of overconsumption by humanity. Now, most people have heard the terms “sustainable”, “organic”, “eco”, “green” and associate positive initiatives with these terms. Sadly we also associate a cost with these terms, a cost we we are not prepared to pay, even if we want to save the planet.
Surveys indicate that at least 70% of western consumers consider sustainability or ethical issues when making consumption choices, while only 20% consistently make sustainable/ethical choices and an even smaller percentage make all or most of their consumption decisions sustainable/ethical.
We know from experience how difficult it is to choose right, especially when cash is tight. While the right choice can be the economical choice too, like buying a fuel efficient car (which will pay for itself in a few years compared to a guzzler) or insulating a home (which will pay for itself in lower heating costs), usually the good option is more expensive than the careless option. Usually that higher price is simply because the cost of producing goods or services sustainably or ethically is simply higher than if corners are cut. And it is easy to turn a blind eye to the consequences of cheap and easy decisions (like perpetuating income inequality or polluting natural resources) when you don’t feel the impact immediately or personally: “Ah, they are OK.” or “Ah, it’ll be alright.” Or “Ah, they wouldn’t sell it if it were bad.” Or simply, “We can not afford it.”
Unfortunately, the consequences of continuing to pollute the planet and our bodies and of perpetuating ethical failure and moral hazard are felt increasingly close to home and much sooner than we had expected. While no one would like to admit it and data can be used to persuade from both sides of the argument, the perceptible increase in extreme weather and extreme diseases like cancer is felt by everyone. And the evidence of growing inequality in human well being is a fact.
Culture must emerge from careless overconsumption to careful sufficiency soon or the problems of decadence will eat our future. Hopefully, we will soon get better at caring about how we spend and invest our cash.
Ethical Corp: Eco marketing: What price green consumerism?