Do People Really Care About the Environment?
Do people really care about the environment?
This sounds like a ridiculous question, right? Of course we care about the environment. But this is just words. How do we really know if people care about the environment? How do we know what people care about?
One of the easiest ways to determine the values of people is to look at the marketplace. If people really do care about the environment, products will change to reflect this value because people will demand it. More than this, they will pay for it.
People have recently been opening their eyes to the damage that is being done to the world by the tremendous use of plastics; plastic bags, bottles, straws, etc. But is this just lip service or do people really care?
For a long time now, I've been choosing to go to the butcher at a nearby grocery store to get my steaks and meat. There are two motivations for this. First, I think it's better meat, but secondly, I can't stand all of the plastic and styrofoam that is used to package the meat in the meat aisle. Instead, the butcher wraps my meat in wax paper. It takes up less room in my freezer, and it's much less wasteful for the environment. It may cost a little bit more for me to shop at the butcher, but that is the decision I made because I want to generate less plastic.
I've noticed that more people are shopping this way, but there are still plenty of people who buy the styrofoam-plastic encased meats (and I still do on the rare occassion when I'm in a hurry).
Now there are some store chains that are making a dedicated move to significantly reduce their plastic usage, because this reflects the values of their customers.
Another very interesting solution is the new "Just-Add-Water" product movement. If you look at the ingredients in many, many products, from window cleaners, to laundry detergent to mouthwash and shampoo, you will see that the largest ingredient is mostly water. If you would remove the water from these products, you'd use considerably less plastic and cardboard and the energy used to ship these products would be much lower.
Now there is a whole new class of reusable product that does just this. Need window cleaner? Use your own high-quality spray bottle, fill it with water and drop in a "window-cleaner-tablet" that dissolves in the water. 2 minutes later you have a full bottle of window cleaner.
This is a solution that makes a ton of sense, so will the idea take off? It depends upon whether people will want such a solution, or in other words it depends upon the value that people place on the environment versus the increased cost of the product.
This is the wonderful thing about a free market economy. People will come up with solutions to problems, and these solutions will reflect people's changing values. The companies who successfully strike the right core with consumers will succeed, and those that miss the mark will fail (and may come back with another solution that is more on point).
In our society, we are free to create a business that solves people's problems, and we have an opportunity to choose to support the companies that reflect our values!
Have your say in the comments below.