Eternal Consumers, Good Or Bad?

Issue 64

We all love to consume goods, but what about the bads we consume, create and put out into the world?

My role is normally supporting those in sales and business development and I spend my time looking at this from a business perspective. As a starting point though, I would like to consider these goods and bads from a consumer perspective.

I want to talk to you as a consumer, and I want you to think about the “bads” you are buying. No, not the chocolate or cream cakes (they are both good and bad). I want you to think about the negatives that come wrapped up with and bundled into the “goods” we buy. This is where we pause to think about the things we consume, where they come from and what impact they have. With the current restrictions and lockdown in place, it has made me think so much more about what I consume and I wonder if you have had similar thoughts? As that next parcel arrives at our door, do we pause and think about:

What about the packaging waste?

Which bits can and can’t be recycled?

How much energy was used to create this, and how much energy was used to deliver this?

Was this ethically sourced?

What is the overall environmental impact of this item?

Do I really need this?

I often talk about the good and services that businesses create, but how often do we all (you, me and businesses) look at these “bads” that are created at the same time – the opportunity costs, the waste, environmental issues, the true costs of what we consume. As consumers we can have a major influence on this just by taking a little more time to consider what we are buying and where it comes from and making our preferences clear to our suppliers and who we buy from.

Thinking of this from a business perspective, and as a supplier of goods and services how closely do you look at your own impact and that of your supply chain? Consumers and clients are now becoming so much more aware of the total cost and impact of the goods and services they are buying. Knowing this and taking full account of this can really help you approach existing and new clients with an offer that can differentiate you against your competitors.

We often work with businesses on the “real client journey” and more clients, customers and consumers are becoming attuned to the ethical and environmental impact of their journey. Are you and your business considering this?

How much time do you spend speaking to your clients and customers about why they buy and what they are really looking for? There will always be a range of options of goods and services in the marketplace, and the current situation can help us all focus and to truly understand the impact of our consumption and the real value and cost of what passes through our hands. Is there a trade off we all need to consider about the cost, price and value of what we consume? Would it help us all to consider the true cost and true value for us, the planet and everyone around us?

As businesses and consumers there are a number of simple things we can do, to come together and really address this challenge. Shop local, support the local economy and especially local retailers in the run up to what should be the busiest period of the year. We are looking forward to enjoying a locally sourced fresh turkey from our traditional farm supplier in Murton, using local retailers and suppliers featured in Northern Insight for our Christmas shop and thinking more about where and how we source gifts this year. We all need to think about how we create, support and develop ethical, low waste supply chains in business and as consumers.

This year has been a massive challenge to so many people and businesses, and I would like to think there can be some good things that come out the current situation. A more sustainable, green supply chain for the goods and services you buy. Ethical sources, less waste, less food miles and more sustainable business would be a great gift for everyone this year.

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