Generation Z is angry and organised; is your business ready?
Some old people think the warmer weather is a good thing! It’s also clear that some think climate change is a left-wing conspiracy.
But younger people are thinking very differently, and furthermore they’re pretty pissed off about the whole thing!
So whatever your sector, whatever your product, whoever your customer is, it’s time to respond with actions not words to what’s happening with attitudes around climate change, pollution and ethics.
Facts, yes facts not fake news, prove that these issues are real and that they will have a significant impact on demand for your products and services.
This is why it makes sense to switch to eco promotional products.
Plastic is the new tobacco
18 billion pounds of plastic waste ends up in our oceans each year. Over 817 animal species around the world are affected by ocean pollution and more than 100,000 marine animals die each year from plastic entanglement and ingestion. Just 10 rivers carry 93 per cent of the trash that feeds into our oceans; the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, the Indus and Ganges Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. The Yangtze alone dumps up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of plastic waste into the Yellow Sea.
So plastic is about to become the new tobacco; dirty, anti-social, old-fashioned.
Yes, as you will see we are still selling plastic products or products with some plastic components, but we’re trying hard to reduce the amount each year and so are many of our suppliers – ‘the writing is on the wall’ for our industry so to speak!.
Alternatives to plastics
There are plenty of responsible alternatives across all of our product categories. 15 years ago you would have had a choice of say 50 items, now there are hundreds!
From the original recycled pencil to pencils made from old banknotes and denim jeans. The war on disposable cups has created a new choice of drinkware options including products made from bamboo and recycled bottles.
Bamboo is becoming a popular substitute for plastic components with items such as the bamboo wireless charger are becoming very popular.
Clothing too is a category of real innovation. The U.S. Alternative Apparel has some really innovative products, almost all of our clothing products are WRAP certified.
And as the plastic bag has been confined to the history books by many large retailers, we offer a wide range of organic cotton and jute shopper bags.
It’s also about sustainability and ethics
Do you want to be the business who bought products from a factory full of kids, kids just like your own? Do you care about sustainability or is that stuff just for hippies and management-speak types? Within a business context, it’s not what you think that counts, its what your customer thinks – and their customer – and their customer!
You could buy the cheapest T shirt or you could buy a WRAP certified product. Worldwide 218 million children between 5 and 17 years are in employment; 152 million are victims of child labour.
Similarly, you could buy the cheapest sticky note or you could buy a recycled product. Tropical deforestation is now responsible for 11 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions.
And why not make a virtue of your decision to buy responsibly? Why not advertise the fact that your business or brand, does care about the environment and social standards? In fact, maybe in the long-run, the ‘cheapest’ items are the certified products? In other words, to Ignore issues around sustainability and ethics may prove to be an expensive mistake.
Climate change will never kill goodwill
Promotional products create goodwill, that’s it in a nutshell. In turn, goodwill creates relationships which generate profit. People buy people. So, it follows that, as long as trade exists, there will be a need to create goodwill. Alongside goodwill there co-exists a perennial desire for all things new. New products excite and help to project the concept of progress and innovation. Right, ok so promotional products get to survive but they a have to be different. Products have to be recyclable, they have to be biodegradable, they have to come from sustainable sources and be responsibly sourced. Yes, you can have giveaways but those giveaways have to be different from those churned out during the era of waste.
Business is not bad, it just needs to change
Currently, it seems almost impossible, for a business, not to be viewed as hypocritical and inconsistent when it comes to many of the issues outlined above. Some will think that our approach is cynical. They are wrong. We have no company cars, we all work from home so there’s no commute. We try to recycle what we can, and through a developing range of products, try to encourage our clients to switch to using more ethical and responsible promotional items. Where we can we are sourcing products manufactured in the U.K. to reduce the need for air and sea freight.
However, even though we are minuscule in comparison to the 20 most polluting companies in the world, we still face real challenges. For example, we recently tried to replace some of our packaging materials with more environmentally friendly alternatives. Some items were quite easy to switch-out but others proved really difficult to replace with products that performed just as well.
Small businesses often rely on larger businesses, who have much greater resources, to drive innovation. Maybe it’s just too easy for some sectors to default to ‘business as usual’? Maybe the use of some materials has to become illegal before we get real change?
We are light-years from perfect, but we are trying!
The young have chosen not to ignore facts. Unlike their parents and grand-parents, Generation Z appears to have an increased ability to think critically and, is becoming understandably impatient. Heatwaves are now 30 times more likely due to climate change. Temperatures of 21.2 degrees Celsius were recorded in London’s Kew Gardens on February 26, 2019. It was the warmest winter day the UK has ever experienced. A few months later, the warmest ever Summer day (38.7 degrees Celsius) was recorded. Which bit of this are people struggling to understand?
So yes we are, as a micro-enterprise, of course, light-years from perfect! – but we are conscious of the issues and are trying to improve.