Thoughts on eco-friendly living

I was mulling over Ashley’s thoughts that the driver for change would come from the public, people like you and me. Ashley feels that what we do, what we vocally say we want, and more importantly how we spend our money will force manufacturers to change, not for ethical reasons but from business considerations. They will produce what will bring in the money. We live in a capitalist system, which thrives on producing what the customer will spend money on.

In the past, producers have told the public what they want. We have been seduced by advertising that makes us believe we need the latest time saving device, the latest technology, and without us realising we responded and bought them. Often we didn’t give much thought to what this would ultimately mean for our society, our world. The information was not available to us.

Now people know what is going on; there is a huge amount of information on the internet and climate change has become much talked about topic. We need to spread news of what is happening as far as we can, so that the buying public can all sing from the same song book. We can use our buying power to push back at manufacturers. We need to tell manufacturers what we want them to produce. If we choose products that are eco-friendly, big business will take notice of the trend. Those that take this on board will have a growing market. Those that don’t will lose business. Profit and loss – the ultimate driver of capitalism.

Is there any evidence that this would work? I’ve been watching adverts and I think it is. One area of over production and waste is clothing. We have long been led to believe that without the latest fashions we are left out, overlooked by society. Vinted has responded by encouraging people to sell the clothes they no longer wear, rather than consign them to the rubbish. Although the ad is aimed at people who sell, it is also reflecting the interest in buying pre-owned, vintage styles. This is an example of a service responding to a change in attitude of the buying public.

Then Vanish comes along. They sell a product to remove stains from clothing. How are they marketing it? They tell us that most clothes are only worn ten times before they are thrown away. Their product will keep them stain free so you can wear them for longer. Another advert shows a teenager happy to wear hand-me-down clothing as it’s been kept in good nick by using their product. Yes it’s marketing aimed to encourage people to use their product but it is again responding to the changing attitude in a concerned population. Big business again taking on board the change in attitude of the buying public.

Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo was introduced 22 years ago. The company plans to take advantage of the current trend to natural ingredients to relaunch the franchise.

“Consumer research has shown us that people remember Herbal Essence as a natural product, even though it really wasn’t,” said Jeanne Matson, Clairol’s marketing director of hair care. “With companies like The Body Shop and Aveda introducing natural hair products in the specialty arena, it seemed like the perfect time to revive Herbal Essence and make it truly natural and environmentally sound.”

The company maintains that 99 percent of each of the eight new formulas is natural herbs, botanicals and other plant-derived ingredients. Herbal Essence is purported to be biodegradable and not tested on animals. They saw the trend to eco-friendly products and responded in the face of competition for the market.

Another example of big business responding to customer demand – ‘Beauty brand L’Oreal is releasing a new line of green beauty-oriented Garnier shampoo bars across Europe. There is zero plastic waste. The bars will be 94 per cent plant-based and biodegradable using 80 per cent less packaging and 70 per cent less fossil energy to make.’

Advertising for electric vehicles is changing with some funky messages for customers. Skoda says its vehicle ‘purrs electric, grrs attitude.  Vauxhall says it’s vehicle is impossible to pigeonhole.  Yet interestingly the amount spent on advertising has fallen in recent years.

‘One reason why spending may have dropped is that they don’t need to spend more. Currently, uninduced demand (i.e. demand with advertising stripped out) is outstripping the maximum supply that manufacturers can currently provide.’

People are looking to buy electric vehicles in an organic way, not as a result of advertising swaying opinion one way or another. This is impressive – people making choices made on what they have heard and understood, rather than being led there by advertising.

I have only had a brief look at what is happening. I am sure there are people who will tell me I am wrong and why. I would love to hear from them – though please bear in mind I don’t claim to have any special knowledge or expertise. I’m just trying to understand what works and am willing to listen.

By the way, I’m not endorsing any of the products or services mentioned. I mentioned them as they are things I’ve noticed in my day-to-day life.

Written by Portland Jones, Disability Liaison for Pagan Federation Midlands.