Today marks the fourth Wednesday of October, which means it is Sustainability Day! This day was set to remind us of the importance of caring for the environment. It is also the perfect occasion to provide the business sector with tips on how to operate more consciously through sustainable packaging and beyond.
Each year brings ever more pronounced effects of climate change, and 2021 is no exception. Consumers are seeing these forces in action and calling for change across sectors. Sustainability Day 2021 is a great opportunity for your company to reevaluate its impact and determine how to contribute positively moving forward.
This article will review how sustainability has changed over time and what it has to do with your business. You will also learn how to seamlessly incorporate sustainability into your brand through eco-friendly packaging.
The environmental movement was originally focused on conservation. However, unregulated industry pollution increasingly affected local residents. The book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson helped to expand the movement from exclusively wildlife protection to encompassing pollution prevention and accountability.
This culminated in the birth of the modern environmental movement in the 1970s and a more active role of the U.S. federal government in pollution control. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 to educate the public and increase awareness of environmental concerns. Expanded versions of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act soon followed and were passed in 1970 and 1972, respectively.
The term ‘sustainability’ started to be used more frequently as we think of it today in the following decade. While there is no completely agreed-upon definition, the one commonly used by the United Nations and in science comes from the 1987 Brundtland Report:
“development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
This definition was used as the basis for creating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a comprehensive set of goals and targets for “peace and prosperity for people and the planet.” These objectives reflect the expansion of the movement to include social equity and the interconnectivity of social and environmental issues.
The development of business has brought many benefits to society. We can easily communicate and travel worldwide thanks to globalization and industrialization.
However, this progress has come at a cost to the planet.
Industry alone produced 23% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. Other types of environmental pollution, like air and water pollution, are also frequently linked to business operations. Pollution and climate change can cause a variety of health issues, particularly for children.
It is clear that the business sector substantially influences the health of people and the planet. With this responsibility comes an enormous opportunity for businesses to transform society through sustainable development.
The business case for sustainability is especially pronounced this year in consumer reports. A significant portion of buyers is set on going green. These conscious consumers want to make choices that align with their ideal of sustainable living.
E-commerce is one area where this trend is particularly prominent. There has been a 71% climb in online searches forsustainable goods from 2016 to 2021.
While seventy-five percent of millennials consider sustainability in their purchasing decisions, they are by no means the only generation willing to act on their values. According to the same study by McKinsey, 66% of overall participants across all age groups are shopping with sustainability in mind.
This trend of conscientious consumption also transcends geographical boundaries. The vast majority of buyers worldwide (73%) are certainly or probably changing their consumption patterns to lessen their environmental impact.
So which habits are consumers changing? Plastic has been on the mind and in the media of many shoppers of late. A push for education on the harms of plastic has increased public awareness. Now, the most common green action by consumers is to avoid single-use plastics when shopping.
This trend is particularly important to note when designing packaging. You do not want consumers to pass up a product because it is encased in single-use plastic.
The verdict is in. Sustainability is no longer optional — it is necessary to meet the needs of current and future buyers.
Aligning your business with consumer values is key to long-term success. In this case, you may be wondering how to position your company to help consumers meet their desired goal of living sustainably. Here are some ideas to get you started:
The overarching steps to improving business sustainability are performing social and environmental audits, noting major areas of improvement, setting targets, and creating and implementing a plan to meet those targets.
Shifting business operations to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or otherwise defined sustainability metrics can help your business improve across the board.
Beware of the prominence of greenwashing, businesses making misleading or false claims about the environmental efficacy of their products. This phenomenon has made buyers more critical and expects more from companies to evidence that they are truly making a concerted effort to reduce the impact of their business.
Once your company has done the internal work, it is time to inform consumers. You can provide resources to consumers on relevant environmental issues and the solutions your company offers. For example, you can explain the environmental benefits of a newly realized packaging take-back program.
Additionally, you can describe your sustainable development efforts and improvements in a sustainability report or other stakeholder communications. This practice has the additional advantage of increasing transparency, which can enhance brand trust and loyalty.
There is a way to let consumers know right away that your business aligns with their values —through sustainable packaging. Packaging is your chance to make a positive first impression on buyers.
Edge2Edge develops memorable, eco-friendly packaging products for global brands. Our team designs sustainable packaging with both environmental and social aspects in mind, from using responsibly sourced materials to partnering with manufacturers practicing ethical working conditions.
We offer a multitude of eco-friendly materials and products, including
Edge2Edge Packaging is a relationship-oriented, family-owned company here to meet your unique packaging needs.
Sustainability Day is a reminder that that planet needs protecting. The push for environmental conservation has evolved into the current drive for global sustainable development. The environmental movement isn’t going anywhere, and it’s time for companies to step up to the plate.
Edge2Edge is dedicated to sustainability. Today, we encourage other companies to commit themselves to the promotion of sustainable living.
Contact Edge2Edge to learn more about creating sustainable packaging products that align with consumer interests and improve the long-term viability of your brand.