The ‘green squeeze’

Recently the Foresight team have been discussing what the impact of an economic downturn will be on ethical consumerism.  The Government agenda has focused on green issues for some time now (for example the last budget set a target for all public buildings to be carbon neutral by 2019), and this year’s G-8 summit has seen countries pledge to take this even further.  More and more individuals and organisations have been embracing the movement; however, in the current economic environment, we are asking, is this now likely to come to an end?

In an economic downturn, the first things that go are the ‘luxuries’.  Whilst many may argue that ethical issues are not a luxury, the fact that it often costs money to indulge in many ethical or environmentally friendly initiatives will have an impact.  Think of organic food, ethically friendly clothes, or green energy tariffs, all of which are often more expensive than other choices.  Shopping habits have already been affected; whereas supermarkets had begun to focus on quality and provenance of products, price has again become the ‘key battleground’.

Recent research from TNS has found that environmental issues are now the lowest priority for the majority of voters.  This supports our initial thoughts; in the current economic environment, people will be looking to reduce costs wherever they can.  So the green movement will remain strong in the areas where people can save money: growing their own food; reducing energy consumption; recycling and reusing.  However, other initiatives where an output is required, or where costs are slightly higher, may suffer.  If your organisation is involved in delivering ‘green’ services, this is probably something to bear in mind.  Whilst there are opportunities related to those cost cutting programmes, there are definite threats regarding initiatives involving costs.  Something to plan for in the upcoming months and years I think.  

Last updated at 18:05 Mon 12/Apr/10.
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