Is ‘Zero-Waste’ a consumer trend or an eco-movement?
The term ‘Zero-Waste’ refers to the set of principles that focuses on the prevention of waste and encourages the use of recyclable and eco-friendly alternatives over single-use items. Initially, ‘Zero-Waste’ started as a challenge to reduce daily waste by using recyclable material to its optimum level of consumption. However, ‘Zero-Waste’ has since become an international movement. Several countries are coming forward to curb the use of single-use materials like plastic, which have adverse effects on the well-being of our planet.
In 2018, the UK observed significant progress in the number of consumers who had become more conscious about the ecological and ethical consequences of their consumption and shopping habits. Inspired by the ‘Zero-waste’ movement, people started following the new lifestyle trend by changing their day-to-day routines. A number of people in the UK are planning their meals in advance to use less plastic packaging and cutlery. People have vigorously started using reusable water bottles, straws, coffee cups, cutlery, food storage containers, carry bags, etc. and are avoiding the use of disposable items.
Several independent UK brands have also introduced sustainable and ethical values at the workplace. S Jones Containers has introduced concepts such as shipping container conversion into brand new items, while L’Oréal and Unilever have vowed to use completely reusable, recyclable and compostable plastic by the year 2025.
As modern-day consumers are more aware of climate change and are paying more attention to the impact of their lifestyle habits on the planet, several brands are adopting best practices to meet up to their consumers’ expectations. While many brands are genuinely building environment-friendly business practices and ethics, others are only using the ‘Zero-waste’ trend to increase their marketing and overall revenues. For example, on one hand coffee shops are encouraging coffee lovers to replace disposable coffee mugs with reusable coffee mugs, and on the other hand, they are constantly introducing new and attractive ranges of seasonal coffee mugs to tempt their buyers into making an unnecessary purchase.
Additionally, various leading fashion brands in the UK have now introduced a specific section for sustainable clothing. Targeting the conscious consumers, these brands claim to produce sustainable clothing items, either from recyclable materials or using zero-waste products. Recently Nielsen conducted a survey in the US to understand the conscious consumer’s sentiments towards different sustainability factors. However, the survey reported that the items with specific sustainability claims sold twice as fast as items without any sustainability claims in their category.
With the help of their purchasing power, the conscious consumers and the followers of the ‘Zero-Waste’ movement are continuously putting pressure on brands to introduce a more sustainable and accessible range of products. Following this pressure, brands are now coming up with numerous options for sustainable products. However, not all these products are 100% ‘Zero-Waste’ solutions. Thus, it becomes extremely important for consumers to understand the true meaning of this new eco-movement. Only then will consumers be able to identify whether a product claiming to be sustainable is really worth swapping with the regular product.
As consumers walk down the aisles of supermarkets, they will come across a number of food and household products neatly wrapped up in plastic or foil packaging. Although these kinds of packaging claim to preserve the quality of the product and enhance its shelf-life, in some way or another they affect the planet’s natural ecosystem. Hence, to make ‘Zero-Waste’ actually an eco-movement and not a consumer trend, brands and consumers will have to come together to take small steps towards a sustainable future. The real eco-movement will only be visible when brands and consumers change their perspective of seeing sustainability as a profit-making and lifestyle option and will be more transparent towards the use of ‘Zero-Waste’ solutions.