Buyers are forcing companies to step up their environmental efforts

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Weary Australian shoppers are calling on businesses to step up their green efforts, after years of climate change have wreaked havoc on the country and grocery store prices.

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

But others don’t put their money where their mouth is.

A recent Finder report showed that more than half of Australians have become more aware of their environmental impact since the onset of COVID-19, and 44% of consumers consider a brand’s eco-friendly efforts to be “very” or ” extremely » important when making a purchase decision.

Finder Green editor Amy Bradney-George said the country is at an “important time” where consumers are looking for products that meet their needs while reducing their environmental impact.

This follows the country which has suffered several severe weather events over the past two years, from widespread bushfires to intense flooding.

Gary Mortimer, consumer and retail specialist at Queensland University of Technology, said consumers are also seeing the effects of bad weather on food prices, food prices in larger supermarkets of the country having increased by more than 3% during the March quarter.

Stock buyers want to see

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

“Consumers have tremendous 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 that over the past year, 89% of Australians have reduced their environmental impact in some way, with the most common tactics including reducing plastic, using energy-efficient appliances and the installation of energy-efficient lighting.

Now Australians expect businesses to do their part as well.

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

And companies try to tick those boxes to satisfy their customers.

Even large supermarkets such as Woolworths and Coles have pledged to reduce their environmental footprint by trying to reduce energy use, food waste and phasing out plastic bags.

“The impact of more recent droughts and floods has really highlighted consumer concerns about the environmental credentials of small and large retailers these days,” he said.

Some companies are making changes

Harriet Kater, climate manager at the Australasian Center for Corporate Accountability (ACCR), said some companies have made real changes to improve their environmental performance.

But others have engaged in deceptive practices known as “greenwashing” to trick consumers, shareholders and the government into telling them they are doing more to protect the environment than they are.

And despite their best intentions, many buyers aren’t good at knowing which companies are eco-friendly.

A survey commissioned by Republic of Everyone and The Bravery shows nearly three-quarters of Australians cannot name a company or brand that takes action to help the environment or tackle social issues.

“There are levels of consumer awareness; there are those who are very educated and informed and who will boycott the products,” Ms. Kater said.

“Others may be a bit more vulnerable to certain brands’ greenwashing efforts, and may be less able to discern what’s real and what isn’t.”

She said the ACCR would like to see large, emissions-intensive companies establish decarbonization strategies that meet what climate experts say is needed, which is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 by switching from coal and gas. to fully renewable energy. boosted economy.

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

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