By Oluwole Asalu
Imagine a world where every purchase you make positively impacts the environment—a world where you can choose from a variety of eco-friendly products and services that suit your needs and values. A world where businesses and governments collaborate to create a more sustainable future for everyone.
This is not a utopian fantasy; this is the world we are creating right now, thanks to global eco-wakening. The eco-wakening is a phenomenon where consumers become more aware and active in driving sustainability. A profound shift in consumer consciousness is reshaping the market, influencing corporations, and demanding transformative action.
As someone who runs a company that offers a correspondence management system called DocStream, I know first-hand how consumer-driven sustainability can reshape industries and transform business practices. DocStream reduces the need for paper and promotes sustainability by reducing the carbon footprint of businesses and organisations. It also helps users optimise their operations and enhance their productivity and efficiency.
By sharing the product and vision on social media platforms, we have reached and inspired thousands of people who are interested in making more eco-friendly choices. We have also partnered with sustainable brands and organisations that share our values and goals. This shows how consumer demand and preference can foster innovation and growth in the market as well as create positive environmental and social impacts.
I am not alone in this endeavour—businesses are involved too. There are millions of eco-influencers and consumers around the world who are passionate about sustainability and the pivotal role they play in driving positive environmental change. They are informed, empowered, and vocal about their preferences and demands. They are not satisfied with greenwashing or token gestures; they want real action and accountability from businesses and governments.
Consumer-driven sustainability has gained substantial momentum in recent years due to the urgent need to address environmental challenges head-on. Consumers are awakening to the realisation that their choices hold the power to shape the market and influence corporations to adopt more sustainable practices. By making informed decisions and demanding eco-friendly alternatives, consumers are driving significant change across sectors and industries.
For example, consumers are increasingly opting for organic food and ethically sourced clothing, supporting businesses that prioritise sustainability. They are also choosing renewable energy options, such as solar panels and wind turbines, to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. They are even embracing innovative solutions such as carbon capture, vertical farming, and circular economy models that offer sustainable alternatives to traditional industries. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable fashion, while 75% of millennials consider sustainability when making a purchase.
These shifts in consumer behaviour and preferences are not only good for the environment but also for business. Businesses that embrace sustainability as a core value can gain a competitive edge in the market, attract more customers, foster innovation, and growth, and enhance their corporate social responsibility. Global companies such as Walmart, Apple, and Unilever serve as factual examples of how consumer-driven sustainability can benefit both businesses and society.
However, consumer-driven sustainability is not enough by itself. It requires a long-term commitment from all stakeholders involved. Sustainability is not a passing trend but a continuous journey. It demands sustained efforts, ongoing education, and policy adjustments to address emerging environmental concerns.
Consumers need to keep themselves informed and updated on environmental issues and solutions. They need to be critical and discerning of the products and services they consume. They need to be vocal and active in demanding change from businesses and governments.
Businesses need to keep up with consumer preferences and expectations. They need to be transparent and accountable for their environmental impact. They need to invest more in research and development, design and manufacturing, collaboration and coordination, education and awareness, and policy and governance.
Governments need to create supportive frameworks for consumer-driven sustainability. They need to incentivise businesses and individuals to adopt eco-friendly behaviour. They need to collaborate with businesses to develop strategies for reducing carbon emissions, promoting renewable energy sources, and implementing sustainable waste management practices.
Technology can also play a vital role in advancing consumer-driven sustainability. Technology can enable new solutions and possibilities for sustainability, such as renewable energy, smart cities, and sustainable transportation systems. Technology can also empower consumers to track their energy consumption, reduce waste, and make more sustainable choices. However, technology also poses challenges and risks, such as data privacy, security, ethics, and social impact. Therefore, technology needs to be used responsibly and collaboratively, to enhance sustainability and well-being.
Consumer-driven sustainability offers numerous benefits on individual, societal, and global levels. By choosing sustainable products and services, consumers contribute to reducing carbon emissions, minimising waste, and conserving natural resources. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle can also lead to improved health and well-being, as eco-friendly alternatives often prioritise organic, chemical-free, and healthier options.
On a broader scale, consumer-driven sustainability has the potential to reshape industries and transform business practices. It encourages businesses to embrace sustainability as a core value, fostering innovation and economic growth. Moreover, sustainable practices can create employment opportunities and promote social equality, benefiting communities worldwide.
The global eco-wakening exemplifies the power of consumers to drive sustainability. As individuals become informed and make conscious choices, they possess the ability to shape market trends, influence corporations, and demand change. Consumer-driven sustainability offers immense benefits, from making a positive environmental impact to fostering improved health and economic growth.
We need to keep pushing for more action and accountability from ourselves and others. We need to keep learning and innovating to find better solutions for our planet. We need to keep collaborating and communicating to create a more sustainable future for everyone.
The global eco-wakening is not a one-time event but a continuous process. It is up to us to keep it alive and growing. It is up to us to make sustainability a way of life.
Oluwole Asalu explores how consumer demand can drive sustainable change in various sectors and writes from Lagos, Nigeria.