5 ways to become a sustainable consumer

5 ways to become a sustainable consumer

I recently participated in a webinar during which we discussed trends in Retail and e-Commerce and how retailers have been challenged to adapt over recent years. Themes included click and collect, returns and the topic of sustainability. Not surprisingly, sustainability was the one topic that underpinned the conversation.  

Beyond the targets and promises

Sustainability has become a buzzword that is often used interchangeably with terms like ‘going green’, ‘environmentally friendly’ and the broader phrase ‘environmental, social and governance’ (ESG). Additionally, today’s consumers consider partnerships with service providers who share their values, including sustainability, above just cost when deciding on purchases. 

Beyond the targets and promises, retailers are looking for a pragmatic approach to sustainability as they navigate the need to embrace environmentally friendly technologies while ensuring cost savings. The balance is a delicate one. 

Fortunately, Honeywell has them covered and is dedicated to helping retailers create eco-efficient business operations with solutions that protect the environment while allowing businesses to maximize the value of these smart investments. 

Through solutions such as building automation, controls, lighting, mechanical upgrades and others, Honeywell has achieved $100M in annualized savings over the past decade. Warehouses and distribution centres can benefit from these services to stay profitable while reducing their energy footprint and improving the efficiency of their assets through remote monitoring and other real-time business tools. 

Honeywell as a global organisation has completed 6,100 sustainability projects since 2010, helping companies dramatically reduce their energy footprint. 

The flip side

On the flip side, consumers like you and me are increasingly calling for retailers to prove their contributions to a more sustainable world. Words are empty. Previously, we’ve based our buying decision mostly on two main criteria, cost and customer service. Very rarely did we consider the impact of a retailer’s operations on the planet and our communities as part of our purchasing equation. That’s all changing. 

According to a recent study by Accenture, more than 64% of consumers in the UK and Ireland are more concerned about the environment than their personal finances. This seems to be a global trend. Cost is becoming less important than feeling like our own values are reflected by the service providers and businesses we support. 

Pointing the finger

The pressure that consumers are placing on retailers and service providers to invest in making their business operations more sustainable, thereby reducing carbon footprint and negative environmental impact, is admirable. However, we need to remember that as we point a finger at them, four fingers are pointing back at us. The effect that our purchasing choices and consumer behaviour have on the success of their sustainability strategies should not be underestimated. 

As I’ve reflected on my own purchasing habits, I’ve come up with 5 ways that will meaningfully support the efforts of my favourite retailers to implement sustainable business practices and reduce the negative impact of their operations on the environment.

1. Consider needs versus wants

With the ability to purchase almost anything online or in-app from the comfort of our homes and offices, we often become less thoughtful when considering our needs versus our wants. This is especially challenging during certain times of the year, like Black Friday, where items are on sale at cutthroat prices. Often, impulsive purchases lead to us returning items once buyer’s remorse has kicked in. What we don’t realise is that, in many cases, our returned items end up in landfills due to the inability of retailers to keep up with the volume of products making their way back to warehouses.

2. Reduce waste

A focus on the reduction of waste is something that can be applied across all aspects of our lives, from how much we order when we eat out at a restaurant to ensuring that we don’t waste electricity by leaving lights and electronic devices on when we’re not using them. At the end of the day, you save money while dramatically decreasing the negative impact on our planet’s natural resources.

3. Check product labels

What you buy directly impacts what your favourite retailer stocks. Purchasing products that are eco-labelled and certified organic or fair-trade not only positively impacts sustainable manufacturers and producers, but guides retailers’ stock replenishment decisions. Always research labels to ensure that they are authenticated by a third party and clear on the sustainability issues addressed in the production of the product.

4. Avoid plastics

The durability, waterproof properties and overall resilience of plastic can’t be denied. Unfortunately, as consumers, we’ve become accustomed to exploiting single-use plastics in packaging, shopping bags, drink bottles, etc. Consciously choosing reusable or recyclable options will reduce demand for plastic items and support responsible retailers and manufacturers in their commitment to finding alternative solutions in support of their sustainability strategies.

5. Spread the word

Firstly, be vocal about your commitment to sustainability and protecting the environment at home, at work or on your social media platforms. Secondly, publicly recognise retailers who are committed to sustainability and making a measurable, positive impact on the environment. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth and social media in the building of a sustainable brand’s reputation in the market. 

If your business is serious about implementing a sustainability strategy while achieving peak operational performance, Honeywell’s tailored, end-to-end, integrated solutions will help you increase productivity, reduce cost-per-order and improve customer experience sustainably. Get in touch to speak to our team about how we can partner with you to deliver on your goals.

At Honeywell, we are innovating to solve the world’s toughest sustainability challenges. Learn more about our commitment to protecting the environment, our people and our communities, while creating value for our shareholders in our Environmental, Social and Governance Report 2022.