The Covid-19 pandemic has ignited a desire for change within the British consumer and in order to flourish going forward businesses need to focus on and improve their social and environmental impact much more than ever before
“There are in history what you could call ‘plastic hours’” the philosopher Gershom Scholem said. “Namely, crucial moments when it is possible to act. If you move then, something happens”.
The pandemic has opened up a plastic hour to us, a chance for real change to take place and we are using this opportunity for good, to work and buy more consciously and ethically.
The first lockdown forced us to face the consequences of our actions and we didn’t like what we saw.
We have created a society that has not only come to view possessions as a sign of status and success but ostracises those who don’t keep up. Just a couple of generations ago we believed in ‘make do and mend’ and we bought quality items to last. Now we buy cheap to throw away next season.
We over consume, we pollute, we litter and give very little thought to where our products came from and who made them. Deep down we know this isn’t sustainable or right but we leave it for others to sort, after all what difference can one person or one business make?
Before the pandemic the UK like many countries was very individualistic. We saw ourselves separate from each other and all too often only responsible for ourselves. The pandemic showed just how limited this belief was. Covid-19 proved how vulnerable we all are, our health depended on each other and no one was safe unless we all took responsibility. Our attention started to shift towards community and togetherness.
The global lockdown also brought the environmental impact of our consumer society into sharp focus. We saw the planet flourish in so many ways and possibly the most startling was the toxic smog disappearing over the world’s worst polluted cities, being replaced by clear skies and vastly improved air quality.
We could see clearly the impact our actions were having on the world and for the first time we understood just how connected we were to each other and the environment.
This dependency and the global effects of the lockdown changed our thinking. Whilst furloughed or working from home we had more time to consider our actions and we started to purchase more ethically.
Research from Barclaycard Payments found 46% of people are ensuring the products they buy have been made ethically with 88% planning to continue this behaviour in the future.
Ethical buying is particularly important to Gen Z with 51% researching a brand’s corporate social responsibility practices before buying.
People now want more from businesses. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report showed that 58% of people want brands to drive change by being a positive force in shaping our culture and 61% wanted brands to work towards making the future better than the present.
It is no longer good enough for businesses to source items without consideration to the social and environmental impact that product.
Businesses need to see themselves as part of the community and understand how their actions impact the communities that rely on them throughout their whole supply chain.
Many businesses may still be focused on surviving and thinking that these environmental and social considerations are something to do later once they are profitable again, but as the government puts it we need to “Build Back Better”. People want this change and actually by taking the time now to consider how to work towards a kinder, greener and more ethical future you can build back a better business which in turn will resonate with customers and help protect your future.