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Green Consumerism: Making every dollar count for the Environment

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08 Jul Green Consumerism: Making every dollar count for the Environment

From the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) to the recent UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the subject of consuming and producing sustainably continues to draw considerable interest. In particular, Sustainable Development Goal 12 seeks to encourage companies to adopt and publicly disclose their sustainable practices, while engaging consumers through awareness building and education.

Indeed, raising awareness is crucial for changing consumers’ mind-sets and behaviour. Technology is a powerful tool that allows companies to do this. A case in point is Double A (1991) Public Co. Ltd’s 1Dream1Tree campaign, which was recently launched to promote the use of sustainably sourced paper products in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand.

Under 1Dream1Tree, held from July to September 2016, consumers are encouraged to scan the QR code on their Double A paper products and register on their campaign micro-site. In return, Double A’s field representatives will plant a tree for the consumer.

The campaign demonstrates how consumers can do their part for environmental sustainability through their purchasing decisions. There is a growing curiosity among consumers about how their products are sourced. The 1Dream1Tree campaign harnesses recent innovations that allow consumers to identify not just the location where the raw materials for their products are grown, but even the names of the farmers responsible for growing them. This technology not only gives a human face to a large company, but also gives consumers a voice, said Mr Thirawit Leetavorn, Senior Executive Vice President of Double A (1991) Public Co Ltd., at a closed-door Roundtable Discussion following the campaign’s launch.

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Left to right: SEC Executive Director Mr. Edwin Seah, SIIA Policy Research Analysts (Sustainability) Ms. Lau Xin Yi and Mr. Pek Shibao, Green Advocate Denise Keller and Senior Executive Vice President of Double A, Mr Thirawit Leetavorn (Photo Credit: Double A)

Such consumer-targeted campaigns address an important gap, namely consumer awareness, said Mr Edwin Seah, Executive Director of the Singapore Environment Council. Mr Seah noted that although Singapore performs well on sustainability indicators such as the Asian Green City Index, these indicators only investigate policies, governance, and infrastructure, and are not a reflection of the average citizen’s awareness about the environment and their consumption of green products. Mr Seah believes this awareness still needs to be improved.

In fact, sustainable consumption, or green consumerism, covers every aspect of our lifestyle including minimising waste. Mr Seah believes that Singapore can “up the game” by cultivating habits from young. One way that this could be achieved is through incorporating environment and sustainability education into the school curriculum.

Ms Denise Keller, travel adventure host and the campaign’s green advocate, observed how we can realise a greener environment by simply taking incremental steps together. “It can just be one green thing a day…maybe just five, ten minutes…If we all take a step towards a bigger thing, we will achieve it.”

The need for such lifestyle changes is becoming steadily more urgent as we learn more about the adverse impacts of unsustainable consumption on the environment. “You’ve got to do something – not for your future generations, but actually for the next generation,” said Mr Leetavorn. “We’ve got to do something right now. There’s got to be a call for action.”

SIIA Policy Research Analysts (Sustainability) Lau Xin Yi and Pek Shibao attended the campaign launch and participated in a roundtable at the session.

Title Photo: Edwin Seah, SEC, Denise Keller, Green Advocate, Thirawit Leetavorn, Double A and Wilson Ang, ECO Singapore