More consumers care about sustainability than ever before! So, how can your business win them them over?
Sustainable business practices are a hot topic, finally!
Pressure from consumers is driving companies, both large and small, to adopt "greener’" operations, commit their support to important social and environmental causes, and help attain the Sustainable Development Goals.
A 2017 study found that 87% of US consumers will buy a product based on how a company’s values align with their own. Maybe even more significant is that 76% said they would boycott a company for supporting an issue that runs against their beliefs.
But is there proof in the profit? Yep!
This dedication to sustainability and social responsibility can also have an impact on a company’s bottom line as 9 in 10 Americans said they would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, and 66% would even be willing to pay more for a sustainably made product. The inverse is also true: 88% of consumers say they would stop buying a product if they learned of that brands' irresponsible business practices.
As consumers focus more on a company's CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives, coming up with innovative new ways to be more sustainable is increasingly important for businesses looking to grow.
How To Attract the Conscious Consumer
Some companies have led the charge in developing sustainable and responsible business practices. TOMS shoes, with their one-for-one model, and Patagonia, with their 1% Earth Tax, are well established companies who make social and environmental practices a signature of their brands.
But a business of any size can have a positive impact by making a commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
Here are five brands winning over customers with their unique approach to environmental and social commitments.
Brewing beer is a notoriously wasteful enterprise, from the waste created by the fermentation of malt, hops, and barley to the large amounts of transportation required to get the beer to the consumer. Not to mention, the brewing industry is one of the largest industrial users of water requiring 4 times as much water to produce one beer.
But this Colorado-based brewery has managed to divert 99.9% of their waste away from the landfill by putting in place an extensive recycling and composting program. In fact, they claim that by separating out metal, cardboard, plastic and glass, they are able to sell those materials to recyclers, and in doing so, earn enough to pay four employees’ salaries.
This Los Angeles clothing company takes transparency seriously. Outside of sourcing their materials sustainably, Reformation tracks the environmental cost of each piece of clothing and displays it on their website. Just like checking your tag to find out the wash instructions, you can go online to see how much CO2, water, and waste was saved during the production of every article of clothing they sell. They also boast having electric car chargers in their parking lot and offering their employees public transit passes!
Reformation has a social conscience, as well. They produce 99% of their good within the U.S., offer employees free English as a Second Language (ESL) courses, and provide free services for workers seeking full U.S. citizenship.
With some 70% of waste in the cosmetics industry coming from the plastic packaging, Lush is making strides to reduce their impact on the environment. Beyond not testing on animals and creating 100% vegetarian products (80% vegan), Lush ensures all its packaging is 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable wherever possible - and that’s if it has any at all!
They also offer a line of ‘naked’ products with zero packaging. Customers can bring their own reusable containers to pick up their soaps, bath bombs, butters and other skincare products so they can be zero-waste too (online orders with minimal biodegradable packaging).
Full disclosure, tentree is one of our amazing business partners - but that just makes them even more awesome. Tentree takes the eco-friendly clothing brand to the next level. Their mission is spelled out right there in their name - for every product sold they plant ten trees at one of their planting projects around the world. So far, tentree has planted more than 20 million trees across 20+ projects around the world, and by 2030 they want to have placed 1 billion trees in the ground. That's a lot of trees, but the more the merrier.
Tentree doesn't think it's enough to just give back to the environment, so they make sure their products are eco-friendly to begin with by using sustainable materials like hemp, organic cotton, and natural dyes. These products reduce the amount of micro-plastics that end up in our oceans and limit the use of harmful chemicals like pesticides that pollute soil and groundwater. And they look great too!
As a reusable bottle and water filter company, Soma’s way of giving back is straight-forward: ensure people around the world have access to clean drinking water by donating a portion of their proceeds to a charity building wells in developing countries.
But selling reusable water bottles also has an environmental angle, so Soma focuses on using post-consumer recycled materials and invests in tree planting and forestry projects to give back to the planet. And, as a certified B Corp, they meet some of the highest standards of sustainability and transparency.
Your Business Can Be Sustainable Too
Making your business more sustainable can seem daunting, but with a little creativity there are many ways you can succeed at being more environmentally and socially responsible. Taking the extra step to make sure you are making an impact - or at least not causing any undue harm - will make you feel better about your work and win the hearts and minds of clients as well.
Download our 'Going Green' guide below for other simple ways your business can appeal to the eco-conscious consumer.
We plant trees on 4 continents around the world. Want to choose where yours are planted?
by Joseph Coppolino
Organic Content Creator & Enviro-fabulist