‘Enormous power’: Shoppers force companies to step up green efforts

‘Enormous power’: Shoppers force companies to step up green efforts
Shoppers are expecting their favourite businesses to become more environmentally friendly. Photo: AAP

Fed-up Australian shoppers are demanding businesses up their green efforts, after years of climate change wreaking havoc on the country and grocery prices.

Some businesses are responding by creating action plans to become more eco friendly, from reducing emissions to banning plastics.

But others aren’t putting their money where their mouth is.

A recent Finder report showed more than half of Australians have become more mindful of their environmental impact since the start of COVID-19, and 44 per cent of consumers consider a brand’s green efforts to be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important when making a purchasing decision.

Finder Green editor Amy Bradney-George said the country is at a “significant juncture” where consumers are chasing products that meet their needs while cutting their environmental impact.

This follows the country undergoing several severe weather events in the past couple of years, from widespread bushfires to intense flooding.

Queensland University of Technology consumer and retail expert Gary Mortimer said consumers are also seeing the effects of severe weather flow through to food prices, with food prices at the country’s biggest supermarkets rising more than 3 per cent in the March quarter.

Action shoppers want to see

Bradney-George said the pandemic and the growing prevalence of natural disasters have driven people to take a stronger stance against climate change.

“Consumers have enormous power when it comes to limiting climate change – by choosing brands that align with their values, shoppers are voting with their wallets.”

Finder data shows over the past year, 89 per cent of Australians have reduced their environmental impact in some way, with the most common tactics including reducing plastic, using energy-efficient appliances, and installing energy-efficient lighting.

Now Australians expect businesses to pull their weight as well.

Dr Mortimer said corporate responsibility measures, such as food reduction programs, reducing or recycling plastics, and the use of alternative or renewable energy, are all viewed “very positively” by consumers.

And businesses are trying to tick those boxes to keep customers happy.

Even major supermarkets such as Woolworths and Coles have made commitments to reduce their environmental footprints by trying to reduce their energy consumption, food waste and phasing out plastic bags.

“The impact of droughts and more recent flooding has really brought home the concerns that consumers have in relation to the environmental credentials that both small and large retailers have these days,” he said.

Some companies making changes

Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) climate lead Harriet Kater said some companies have made genuine changes to improve their environmental performance.

But others have engaged in deceptive practices known as ‘greenwashing‘ to deceive consumers, shareholders and the government that they are doing more to protect the environment than they are.

And despite their best intentions, many shoppers aren’t great at keeping track of which companies are environmentally friendly.

A survey commissioned by Republic of Everyone and The Bravery shows almost three-quarters of Australians can’t name a company or brand that is acting to help the environment or combat social issues.

“There are levels of awareness across consumers; there are those who are highly educated and informed and who will boycott products,” Ms Kater said.

“Others may be a little bit more vulnerable to the efforts of greenwashing from certain brands, and may be less able to discern what is real and what is not.”

She said the ACCR would like to see the big emissions-intensive companies establish decarbonisation strategies that abide by what climate experts say needs to happen, which is to achieve net-zero emissions before 2040 by shifting away from coal and gas to a fully renewables-powered economy.

Finder Green Awards 2022 awarded Hyundai, Woolworths, Belong and Seed & Sprout the top spots in championing sustainability among companies in Australia.

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Palay-Palay  National ParkAbout PagudpudFive Levels of Aguinid FallsIntroducing San Pascual, MasbateMount Manmanoc ItineraryAdventures in Fortune Island of Nasugbu | LakwatseroNext Level Mobile Photography with Sony Xperia XZ1 | LakwatseroScuba Diving in Siargao: Discovering the Underwater Treasures of Daku Island | LakwatseroAbout Davao CityHow to Get to AndaJanuary: Cebu & IloiloHow to Get to Mines View ParkKamay ni Hesus: Pilgrimage Site in Lucban | LakwatseroPoon Hill: Three Days of Himalayan AdventureCalvary Hill Cemetery of SagadaHow to Get to TambobongMilford SoundTen Things To Do in Sagada: Bucket List for NewbiesDahoyhoy FallsPilot for a Day: The Ultra Light Aircraft Experience | LakwatseroReal Coffee and Tea Cafe of Boracay | LakwatseroGhorepani Poon Hill TrekAbout Maniwaya IslandHow to Get to Binanga FallsPalo Alto Falls of Baras, Rizal | LakwatseroExplore Moscow: Best Things to Do in the City | LakwatseroStairway to HeavenMount Guiting-Guiting Overnight Trek Complete ItineraryCape Melville LighthouseLa Cathedral Café: Restaurant with a View in IntramurosKapurpurawan Rock Formation: White and BeautifulDay Hike ItineraryThe Sandbox at AlvieraHow to go to Mararison IslandA Weekend of Adventures in South Cebu and DumagueteCalayan Island: A Virtual Diary of Our Epic Journey | LakwatseroFaro de Isla Jintotolo (Jintotolo Island Lighthouse)Low’s PeakAbout Taal VolcanoHow to Get to Mag-aso Falls of BoholSamar: Biri Rock Formations Up Close | LakwatseroBonbon BeachIntroducing Jomalig IslandAbout Cotabato CityAbout TabukLeyte Landing Memorial: A Memorial for a Fulfilled Promise | LakwatseroSilyang Bato, Mount MaramiPanimahawa Ridge and Cedar Falls Day Hike ItineraryFun in the World’s Best IslandSample Albay ItinerariesMagpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools6 Tips for Living in the Philippines | LakwatseroDaraga Church: The Nuestra Señora dela Porteria ChurchTulgao Rice TerracesCape Melville Lighthouse (Faro del Cabo Melville)Canyoneering to Kawasan FallsLake FewaLong Weekend: Five-Day Suggested Itineraries in Luzon | LakwatseroAbout CaponesThe Wichcraft Café of Zamboanga City | LakwatseroHow to Get to GuiuanAll-Female FloorHow to Get to Neri’s VilleDiotay’s EateryShort but Sweet Melaka Getaway | LakwatseroHow to Get to Tinuy-An FallsOslob: The Lost Grandeur of Tumalog Falls | LakwatseroIlocos ItineraryDitumabo Falls: The Mother Falls of San Luis, Aurora!Biking in Kalinga: Trek and Bike to TabukParadise Garden: A Haven for Sea TurtlesSiargao: Magpupungko Beach and Tidal Pools | LakwatseroAbout Bucas GrandeCoral GardenSagadaA Walk in Sangay Siapo Island Before it is Gone? | LakwatseroAmbaguio-Akiki ItineraryCorregidor Island Lighthouse (Faro dela Isla de Corregidor)Faro de Punta de Malabrigo (Malabrigo Point Lighthouse)About CulionNaidi Hill LighthouseBoquete IslandHow to Commute to Temple of LeahCatanduanes: The Heritage Church of Bato | Lakwatsero1. White Water Rafting or KayakingMount Fuji Overnight Climb ItinerarySip & Gogh Paint Studio: Unleash Your Inner Van Gogh | LakwatseroBatanes ItineraryHow to Get to Quitinday HillsAbout Callao CaveDiscover LakawonBiking to Taal: A Fun Ride to Batangas’ Heritage TownAntique Blooming: The Rafflesia of San RemigioMalasimbo Lights and Dance FestivalBacolod ItineraryPoon HillAttractions in Mirador Heritage and Eco ParkHulhumale Public BeachRomblon Island: Bonbon Beach, Tiamban Beach & MoreAdventure in Sabah: White Water Rafting in Padas River | LakwatseroHow to Get to Hinakpan Mystical HillsWelcome to Lake SebuAbout CasiguranAbout BuscalanHow to Go to Kalanggaman IslandFaro de Cabo Bojeador (Cape Bojeador Lighthouse)Backpacking Maldives: Budget Itinerary, Expenses & TipsHow to Get ThereOffbeat Bohol Itinerary: 3D/2N of AdventuresHow to Get to Tawi-TawiAlona BeachPangilatan Falls: The Forgotten Gem of Tapaz, CapizWorld War I: SMS Cormoran II3D/2N Taiwan Itinerary: Taipei – Yehliu – ShiffenLaos for Backpackers: Getting There on a BudgetBasic RequirementsHow to Get to Antong FallsCathedral CaveHow to Go to Gubat, SorsogonAbout SadangaHow to Get to Bugui Point LighthouseHow to Get to Cabra Island LighthouseCebu Itinerary: Three-Day Adventures in the SouthAbout AndaLuna: A Day in the Show Window of Apayao | LakwatseroMargues Blue LagoonFinding Palaui’s Cape Engaño Lighthouse | LakwatseroHow to Get to Mantayupan Falls of Barili, CebuHow to Get to MaligcongLinapacan Islands: Between Paradise | LakwatseroKLIA to KLCCHow to Get to JomaligBanaug ShoalEspadang Bato – Payaran Falls Day Hike Itinerary10 Remarkable Philippine Destinations for Solo TravelMiagao Church: A UNESCO World Heritage Site in IloiloAbout Carbin ReefAbout Parola IslandCabra WreckageCobra Falls: Ozamiz City’s Best Kept SecretBasco: The Chapel on the Hill of Tukon | LakwatseroBack in Kathmandu’s Lovely Mess | LakwatseroHimalayan Adventure: Kathmandu to Pokhara Overland | LakwatseroItineraryChinatown Vancouver (Stop #23)Situbo Falls: Tampilisan's Awesome SurpriseHow to Get to Inambakan FallsTuasan Falls: Another Camiguin’s Charmer | LakwatseroHow to Get to Lake SebuMarinduque Loop: Biking in the Heart of the Philippines1. 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