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What will it take for “responsible” consumerism to gain traction?

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Posted by Alan Bowman
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Concerns for the environment, issues of sustainability and an uneasy sense that the “gimme more” growth bubble had to burst, have been with us for some time.

Everything from increasing purchases of organic food to lead–free petrol, corporate commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, healthy eating campaigns, the rise of the reusable shopping bag and a new interest in urban allotments stem from an underlying unease with the past direction of travel.

All of these activities tap into our innate desire to “do good” and, more importantly for consumers, to get positive emotional payback for their purchases, “to feel good” about the decision as well as product value.

Make it easy for us to do good. Remove any trade off against our regular brand (in fact build in some additional benefits) and you‘ve got us hooked – as brands from Innocent Drinks to Sainsbury‘s have found.

But ingrained habits can be hard to break – which is why Government has been so active. But who trusts “Big Government” these days – banking failure, job insecurity, sensitive data loss, accusations of nanny state meddling and even adult videos on expenses have all chipped away at our confidence.

Does switching off the standby switch really change the world? Are dustbin monitors really meant to encourage recycling – or raise tax?

The eco–warriors have similar problems. Strident single–issue protest rubs up hard against the mainstream isolating minority views from the established consensus.

But the context has been set up – and even though only around 10 per cent of us are actively and genuinely “green” in our consumer and lifestyle habits, the recession has prompted many more of us to think about a simpler life lived against what might have seemed, pre–Crunch, old–fashioned values.

Yesterday‘s message was all about reducing the environmental impact of household food waste.

Today‘s message is all about maximising what you can do with your food.

Tags:  ResponsibleConsumerLifestyleRecessionGovernment

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