Sustainability and ethical sourcing have become increasingly important for businesses and consumers in recent years to slow down the impact of climate change. For sustainability to positively affect the future, those within the industry must make changes such as reducing packaging and using biodegradable products, using alternative energy sources and investing in green transport and fuel options.
Ethical consumerism has grown year on year and is now more important to many who have come to realise that global warming is a very real concern. Consumers that care about how their produce is sourced and how their products are made choose to support companies and organisations that put environmental and social priorities first and sell products or produce responsibly.
According to a survey conducted by OpenText, out of 25,000 consumers surveyed across 12 countries, demand by consumers to purchase from companies with ethical sourcing practices is rising fast.
Consumer demand has seen many companies look at their sourcing practices and consider making these more sustainable and ethical. If businesses do not make the necessary changes to how they source their materials and consider how they are produced. In that case, consumers will vote with their feet and seek an alternative company that does.
There are now websites that name the most sustainable companies that are the most sustainable and provide a way to trace the sustainability journey of a product from start to finish. Companies that abide by an ethical code of conduct will likely see an increase in their sales. Companies like Mars are working to end deforestation and are committed to working with suppliers who also abide by their ethical, social and environmental expectations.
How important is ethical sourcing for consumers?
Incredibly important, it would seem. No more will consumers accept palm oil in their chocolate bars that have been produced by cutting down biodiverse rain forests. No more will they accept clothes that have been produced by forced labour and breach human rights laws. No more will they buy diamonds that have been unfairly traded and used to fund civil wars.
Consumers want sustainably grown palm oil, clothing that has been produced using fair trade practices and diamonds that are responsibly sourced, traded and produced.
Of the 25,000 people surveyed by OpenText, 81% of respondents said purchasing ethically sourced products matters to them. While 20% said that it recently mattered to them, proving this movement is gaining momentum.
Those who have been moved to purchase goods from ethical sourcing companies recently have likely done so because the global pandemic has made many people more ethically minded.
It would seem that many consumers are also willing to pay more for products that are ethically sourced, with more than 83% of respondents saying so.
What more do consumers want from ethically minded companies?
Consumers are now seeking companies to look outside themselves and consider their wider impact on the environment. Not just with whom they do business but also becoming involved in sustainable social projects which provide value to communities. This goes beyond consumerism and helps companies give back to their community or a community in a country where they source some of their produce or labour force.
The fair trade movement has been established for many years and helps people get paid and treated fairly for their services. This is a global movement and one which has now taken root in many businesses and countries worldwide. Consumers want fairness and decency, which is why 70% of respondents suggested they would like governments to hold corporations accountable with more regulations around ethical sourcing.
The COVID-19 pandemic had such a profound impact on traditional brick-and-mortar businesses because more consumers were driven to buying their goods online and online purchases soared. Buying online does come with more benefits than just convenience; it enables consumers to fact check the brands they are buying from to ensure they are ethically sourcing and manufacturing their products. After the lockdowns, 68% of those surveyed said they would prioritise buying from ethical companies.
Is the carbon footprint also important to consumers?
Sourcing ethically minded products and produce is all well and good, but if there are many air or road miles involved in delivering these items, it is not ethical enough. Ocado is one example of a company trying to decrease the impact of carbon footprint miles but providing greener delivery slots for vehicles in the local area around the same time.
Many companies are now also changing over to cleaner, greener fuels or choosing to change over to electric and solar-powered vehicles to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their ethical consumer following.
Is ethical sourcing important?
With the COP26 coming up next month and the weather showing us all that there really is something to be concerned about regarding global warming and climate change, yes, ethical sourcing is important; what is also clear is that consumers feel it is equally important to them and that is why they want companies to be more open about their ethical and sustainability credentials. If governments, companies and consumers all work towards these ethical goals, perhaps we can help make the world a cleaner and safer place.