Ritika Jayaswal is born and brought up in a simple town in Central India in an industrial family. After completing her education at Parsons School of Design in New York, Ritika delved into the fashion and beauty industry in the US. Fueled by curiosity, self-introspection and a love for wellness, Ritika came back to India and started Nourish Mantra in 2019. Nourish Mantra is an ethically sourced, vegan brand that is not tested on animals and is the ideal mantra to leave your skin and soul truly nourished.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”–Robert Swan
Gone are the days when we would sit back relaxed, talking about how sustainable development is a concern for the future. Well, that future has arrived. Currently, the pollution and global warming rates are alarmingly high and resource exhaustion dates are pretty close. Many metropolises like Miami, Los Angeles, Chennai and Bangalore have already reported water crises. Forest fires rose dramatically, clearing enormous oxygen sources. All because of the wrong choices humans have made and are still making. Along with industries and authorities, consumers are also required to take action if we all want to breathe in fresh air and drink clean water after 20 years.
Sustainable business practices were pioneered before World War I when renewable energy sectors started developing. In the last few decades, brands have realized that they can survive the upcoming market challenges only if they are ethically agile. Businesses that were begun just before the pandemic have seen the worst. The growth of this market has been slow because brand agility and ethics depend a lot on the choices made by the consumers. Brands, governments and specialists have actively taken part in the global movement of discarding single-use plastic and reducing carbon emissions.
Emerging green brands would see the face of growth only when the consumers alter their choices. Sustainability is not a destination, it’s a slow process. Consumers have obviously shown their interest and support towards conscious brands and ethical businesses, but as per recent surveys, it is still less than 35%. Earlier, there was a notion that the consumers are not well aware of the concept, but this is not the case now.
According to what I have witnessed:
- Most consumers are now educated about the climate crisis.
- A Major number of conscious consumers revolve only around the food sector.
- Many of the consumers think that we still have time. (But we don’t).
- Most consumers depend entirely on the government and the brands.
Sectors other than food and beverage also need our support now more than ever. And by support, I don’t just mean social media hashtags, but effective actions. When I asked others about their views on making sustainable choices, I was surprised. Most of them spoke to support responsible brands, but not even half of them utilized any of their products. Most of them answered they couldn’t care enough, others mentioned either the cost is relatively high or the stores were not in proximity. All of this comes under one roof called a comfort zone. Brands can only come closer to achieving those clean and green goals when the consumers are also willing to go the extra mile. People need to show their support through their purchasing decisions. Refraining to buy from unclean and unethical brands is the first step. What currently drives consumers’ decisions is convenience.
Although sustainability reporting is still a voluntary undertaking in many countries, brands are still playing their part. Moreover, these clean brands are simultaneously battling with unfair competition. I have seen numerous brands greenwashing and shouting false claims. National governments have tried to curb false and misleading advertisements by putting a criminal label on these activities, but efforts are still missing when we talk about greenwashing. This is something more dangerous when it comes to corporate social responsibility and conscious consumerism. People are happily buying stuff from brands that are just bluffing. Many companies greenwash to cut costs and build brand image. And most consumers don’t know that. They need to dig deeper to understand that the advertisements are all about praising one good deed to hide ten hazardous ones.
In the corporate world, sustainability depends on the brand’s holistic approach, considering all aspects of business, from production to operation to customer service. It is not just about the planet and the future generations. As consumers, our actions should reflect through our purchasing decisions and lifestyle changes. Being a conscious consumer is not rocket science. We just need to try harder to understand the environmental impact and ethics of a brand before buying any product. Individual choices yield substantial results. These days, depending only upon others and not taking individual action is extremely risky.
Stepping outside their comfort zone today will ultimately help the consumers to stay comfortable in the near future.