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Aotearoa speaks up about ethical spending

A recent study conducted by social enterprise Conscious Consumers has shown that over 10,000 Kiwis care about ethical spending practises and minimising waste, which influences how they shop. 

Conscious Consumer works with over 50 businesses to track and monitor ethical practises of businesses who choose to participate.

Conscious Consumers’ Good Spend Counter system allows consumers to vote for what they believe in with their money, and show businesses clearly what they care most about.

For businesses, that’s invaluable data which they can easily track on a cloud-based platform.

This year, minimising package and waste was deemed the number one most important thing New Zealanders care about when it comes to ethical shopping.

This was followed by animal welfare, caring for workers, sourcing Fairtrade products and taking action on climate change.

The survey launched last year, and so far, 10,382 people have signed up to vote on what they care about the most.

By registering their credit card and selecting the ethical considerations which are most important to them.

Ben Gleisner, Conscious Consumers CEO, says they track the businesses and pair it with consumer spending, using the data to place an importance rating for each customer.

“In short, we connect the money people spend with the values they care about most so businesses can understand what is important to their customers. From there, they can improve their social and environmental impacts accordingly.”

“New Zealanders can see the level of waste that companies are generating through excessive packaging.  We hope this data gives manufacturers and retailers confidence that making changes in their packaging approach is not only good for the environment but also good for business,” Gleisner says. 

Conscious Consumer CEO, Ben Gleisner.

Sticking with the theme of reducing packaging and waste, A study carried out by the Waste Management Institute New Zealand in 2016 says that In total, 65 percent of Kiwi consumers surveyed are in favour of bag charges if the money is donated to charity.

Unilever, one of the world’s leading suppliers of food, is six years into its ambitious Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to increase ethical practise and sustainability across its owned brands.

So far the company has revealed 18 sustainable brands that it operates, including Dove and Ben & Jerry’s, delivering 60 percent of the company’s total growth.

Unilever New Zealand managing director, Nick Bangs, said “We have made great progress. Our results show that sustainability is good for business, with increasing evidence that our ‘Sustainable Living Brands’ do better.”

As part of the efforts to scale up and progress its commitments on sustainable living, Unilever commissioned consumer research to help gain a better understanding of some of the issues that are driving people’s purchasing habits and behaviour.

The research showed that over half of all consumers already buy or want to buy sustainably.

So far, Unilever has reduced waste per ton of production by 17 percent, compared to 2008 baseline.

Unilever’s REDcycle partnership diverted nearly 2 million packs, or over 3.3 tons of flexible plastic packaging, away from landfill in 2016.

Thanks to the system, changes are being made in businesses across New Zealand. For example, more than 50 businesses have begun composting since joining the Conscious Consumers programme. Together, they’re diverting more than 45,000 kilograms of waste from landfills every year.

Millennials, which are now the most lucrative demographic to marketers, support socially, ethically, and environmentally responsible business more than any other generation.

This story first appeared atThe Register.