The climate power in our hands: launching fewer, but better products

August 11, 2021

I imagine a world with fewer, better designed and more transparently sourced products, and I know consumers already wish to make sustainable consumer choices. The new climate report from IPCC shows it is a vision we need to do more to reach – now.

Yesterday, the UN-appointed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) launched their sixth assessment report, “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis” reinforcing that climate change is manmade. 

And not only that: the 700 scientists involved in creating the report also estimate that the global average temperature rise will surpass 1,5 degrees within the next decade. 

Previously, it was due by 2040, so effectively they are cutting short our time to do something about it by 50%. Read that again.

We all need to change

It is obvious that we will need political commitments to act and rather today than tomorrow.

But we also need companies and consumers to take matters into their own hands and realize the power they have in everyday consumption: to make the sustainable choice, even though it means we are due to do things a little differently than we used to.

It is about launching or relaunching more sustainable products and companies accepting a little less revenue and consumers accepting prices might increase a little bit.

This spring we asked consumers in the Middle East & APAC about their attitudes towards eco-friendly consumption and numbers indicate that they are ready to make sustainable choices: 90% replied they would choose the eco-friendly alternative if two products cost the same, while 64% are willing to pay more for a more sustainable product.

So, the consumers are ready.

But putting one’s money in the more sustainable choice is a tricky consumer task: what products are truly sustainable? 

Sustainable products – environmentally and commercially

In today’s world supply chains are long and rarely transparent and marketing is often flooded with greenwashing. That responsibility lies with the companies to take; the sustainability agenda needs to penetrate more than the marketing department.

It might mean fewer products should be launched, and that the products that do get launched should be designed to last longer. But of course also that consumers decrease the “buy and throw away” culture that have emerged in the last decades. 

That would, in turn, ease off some of the enormous stress that most companies currently put themselves under to launch more and faster even though most newly launched products never prove to be commercially viable. That probably makes way for the companies to develop, research and launch better products that consumers will want to pay a little extra for, and we will all win.

However, most of the companies big enough to make a notable impact are characterized by a high degree of path dependency and changing the navigation of a supertanker is no easy task. But let it be an inspiration to all of us that the second-most polluting industry in the world – fashion – put Greta Thunberg on the cover of their industry bible – this year’s September issue of Vogue Scandinavia. It is time to look inward in our own industries and create change.