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Is sustainability pricey?

Shoppers once selected products based simply on price or brand, but now attributes such as whether goods are "Sustainable," "Climate-friendly," "Green," and "Eco-friendly" are readily becoming part of the consideration. Despite prevailing attitudes of consumers to prioritize sustainability and environmental good, research continues to show that few consumers who report positive attitudes toward eco-friendly products actually follow through with their wallets and pay more for "Sustainable" goods, which may help to explain the enduring demand for fast fashion and other mass-market goods. Green, eco-friendly, climate-friendly products - confused? "Eco-friendly" - which is not quite so broad and defines products or practices that do not harm the Earth's environment - is slapped on everything from beauty goods to dishwashing soaps.

Some brands are even moving beyond simply eco-friendly and now seek to claim their products are "Climate-neutral." Concerned about allegations of greenwashing - i.e., claiming that a product is "Sustainable" when it is not or that it is "Greener" than it actually is, many brands are turning to organizations, such as Climate Neutral, Foundation Myclimate, and members of the Global Ecolabelling Network, to legitimize their claims, and thereby, avoid large scale public relations scandals.

The climatop label, as developed by Myclimate, certifies products that generate significantly less greenhouse gas than comparable products. Environmental Choice New Zealand is the official environmental label body that awards certificates and lists environmentally friendly products for green homes or businesses. A willingness to pay more for "Sustainable" products. Despite environmentally-friendly sentiments from large swathes of consumers, such concern about the environment does not readily translate into the purchase of "Green" products.

Commercial research reveals that 46 percent of consumers are more inclined to buy a product if it is "Sustainable" or "Eco-friendly," but nearly 60 percent are unwilling to pay more money for that "Sustainable" or "Eco-friendly" product. Regardless of environmental concern and the positive attitude of customers towards sustainability and green products, it is estimated the market share of green products will reach only 25 percent of store sales by 2021. Ultimately, the research that evaluates consumers' willingness to pay more for green products has been mixed.

One study found Spanish consumers were willing to pay 22-37 percent more for green products, but Japanese consumers were only willing to pay 8-22 percent more for green products. From procuring raw materials to shipping the final product, almost all steps of the manufacturing and production process of eco-friendly products cost more than traditional products. In a free market economy, it is very difficult to force people to pay more for products. Brands can "Nudge" consumers towards more eco-friendly products. While not all consumers will pay more for green "Climate-friendly" products despite the best of intentions, we can slowly nudge them to make better choices for the planet.

Source : TFL

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