A recent survey showed that a quarter of UK consumers would be prepared to pay more for fair trade products, organic foods and green cleaning products if they were available.
This means both manufacturers and retailers need to look at how far they are willing to go in terms of their green credentials.
Being environmentally friendly seems like a no-brainer, especially when consumers are actively giving out the message that they want to purchase green products and services, as shown in the survey by Nielsen, the leading market research company.
In fact, there is a general world-wide upward trend when it comes to an interest in environmentally friendly products.
Another study, this time by the Centre for Retail Research (CCR), defines ‘green’ products as being those that are “environmentally friendly, sustainable, avoid excessive inputs of energy for production or distribution, and can be easily recycled.”
Here in the UK, we have one of the biggest green retail economies in Europe, alongside Germany and France, although the average spend per household currently stands at £305, as opposed to the European average of £319.
In some ways, this can be down to the fact that sellers are confused about green products and the rules and regulations surrounding them.
Much of the debate around eco friendly business practise surrounds issues of sourcing materials in an ethical way. Essentially, this can boil down to working out whether or not the environment has been damaged by the production process.
Much closer to home, in the same way that individual households are taking steps to change their behaviours to more eco friendly models, businesses of all kinds can and should be doing the same.
One of the biggest concerns for many is the way that energy use impacts on the environment, either by burning fossil fuels or producing by-products that are not recyclable.
Taking measures to lower consumption of energy can not only make sense for consumers, but for businesses too, as any cuts to overheads can be passed on as savings to customers or increases to profit margins.
Something as simple as fitting window shutters in business premises or in the home can help cut down on heat loss and help in the overall insulation of a building.
As temperatures drop outside, consumers will naturally want to turn the heat up inside their homes. However, before doing so, think of some environmentally friendly alternatives – it could be something as simple as wearing thicker clothing while indoors, adding more blankets to the bed, or making yourself a hot cup of tea.
Practical cost-effective measures like this can save money by cutting energy usage while also having the double advantage of being good practise in green terms.
Future is green
However big or small a contribution is, the fact remains that being eco-conscious is now as important to manufacturers, retailers and other businesses as it is to consumers.
As with most things, buyers vote with their money, and businesses have to pay attention and adapt in order to survive, let alone thrive.