March 25, 2021 | Posted By [dot]GOOD

Compostable bags versus paper. Imported organic veg versus locally grown.

Compostable bags versus paper. Imported organic veg versus locally grown. The shopping aisles present myriad options for environmentally conscious consumers – but are South Africans making the right choices, and how easy is it to do so?


Michael Baretta of social-cause marketing agency dotGOOD cities the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020, which surveyed 27 500 Millennials and Gen Zers in 43 countries, including South Africa: “The research showed that in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, consumers are eager ‘to drive positive change in their communities and around the world.”

David Parry-Davies of the Eco-Logic Awards agrees. “We can see this shift especially in the personal product industry. In 2018, products that had a sustainability claim on-pack accounted for 16.6 per cent of the market, up from 14.3 per cent in 2013, and delivered nearly R1.7-trillion in sales, up 29 per cent from 2013,” he says. He notes further that “products like toilet paper, tissues, laundry care and floor cleaner which were marketed as sustainable grew 5.6 times faster than those that were not”.

Many brands have leapt to the challenge, including some global heavy hitters, like Unilever and PepsiCo. Baretta also commends South African retailers like Checkers, Pick n Pay, Spar and Woolworths for adapting their product offerings.

James Lonsdale, group sustainability manager at the Spar Group, says that the retailer’s changes have been driven largely by a notable increase in demand for vegan products. It is also responding to growing queries about the group’s plans for handling environmental no-nos such as plastic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, demand for sustainable goods has been most prevalent amongst higher income earners. However, Sanjeev Raghubir, group sustainability manager at Shoprite Holdings, points out that lower income consumers are also displaying a growing awareness, largely because they often bear the brunt of environmental disasters. The Cape drought of 2018, and its impact on livelihoods, is a prime example.

Source: https://issuu.com/sundaytimesza/docs/green_march_2021