The challenges of today's world including climate change, global warming, environmental degradation, agricultural pollution, poverty, disease, crime, war and terrorism, all impact the natural products industry and the organic supply chain. Consumers, the target market for your business products and services, are now in growing numbers demanding environmental and social responsibility from industry leaders.
A recent survey found that 78% of Americans feel that corporations have a responsibility to conduct their business in an environmentally responsible manner. The survey also connected profitability with sustainability, since a high percentage of Americans also believe it is important to buy products from socially and environmentally responsible companies, with 43% choosing not to buy products with non-sustainable packaging due to concerns about the effects of non-sustainable packaging on the environment. Applied to the natural products industry, these market research findings highlight the need for vigilant sustainable business practices which include a firm commitment to ingredient and product purity, to avoid environmental and environmental health concerns which may result from product sourcing, manufacturing processes, and product use.
A majority of consumers want to "go green" and see the industry support sustainable options in all categories. Three quarters of those surveyed gave preference to grassroots consumer choices including the use of non-toxic cleaning products, eco-friendly appliances and reduction in household paper use. Women surveyed showed a greater tendency to "go green," and reduce their environmental impact by favoring every day choices to reduce energy and commodities waste. Pointing to environmental concerns as a threat to their long term well being, many consumers see that creating a more sustainable world is one of their greatest responsibilities and express a strong desire to create a better world for future generations.
A 2014 Nielsen's global survey found that 67% of those surveyed want to work for socially responsible companies, 55% pay extra for products and services committed to positive social and environmental causes, 52% made at least one purchase from one or more socially responsible sources, 52% check product packaging to determine environmental impact, and 49% donate or volunteer to organizations involved in social and environmental programs. The Nielsen's report emphasized the importance of every citizen's responsibility to make environmentally and socially conscious choices, e.g. walk instead of drive, reuse rather than waste, and buy local to reduce your carbon footprint by cutting transportation costs, fuel costs, fuel usage, and carbon emissions.
In business settings green commitments can often save business dollars. For example, installing energy-efficient lighting or reducing transportation costs can help your business to cut costs directly. According to the Nielsen's survey, consumers look to corporate social responsibility (sometimes called conscious capitalism or corporate citizenship) to support important social and cultural change including international poverty removal, food security, reforestation, and clean water initiatives.
Today's natural products industry leaders have a greater responsibility than ever to make business choices in favor of the environment, being vigilant at every stage of the business, manufacturing, packaging, and distribution processes. All natural products industry leaders are invited to review their environmental and social commitments today to create a cleaner, healthier, and environmentally safe world!
Simi Summer, Ph.D. is an organic advocate, independent researcher, educator, and freelance writer. She is a strong proponent of organic consumer education and informed consumer choices.
Doing Well By Doing Good (June 2014) The Nielsen Global Survey. http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/apac/docs/reports/2014/Nielsen-Global-Corporate-Social-Responsibility-Report-June-2014.pdf