Isn’t it about time consumers had a proper meaningful choice in their shopping habits?
The purchasing conventions of Christmas from the past would be unrecognisable to the customers of today. As the concept of food storage was almost unknown a massive portion of Christmas spending went on food. Pies, Pasties and Cakes would have been prepared weeks in advance before the holiday and then heartily consumed.
In the 18th century, as the influence of Puritanism waned, Christmas was gradually restored to its former status as a time for feasting and celebration. And with this came increased commercial opportunities. Previously, throughout the months of November and December, our ancestors would have battened down the hatches and cooried in. Gradually, in these pre-industrial days, local communities began to thrum once more.
In this time of Christmas present, millions of us will be celebrating the season a little more thoughtfully. Perhaps we might be considering the use of recyclable brown paper to reduce the 83sq kilometres of wrapping which gets sent to UK landfill each year. Perhaps some of us might swap the traditional turkey crown for a nut roast and thus reduce the ruinously high levels of waste levels in the poultry industry.
Yet, while individual consumers might seek to explore environmentally-friendly lifestyle changes, there is a limit to what can be achieved outside the well-established practices of the major supply chains.
The traditional principles of supply and demand though, needn’t be set in stone. As we know, the market responds instinctively to consumer choices. Thus, if we buy more sustainably it leads to a demand for these products.
As ever though, our wallets will dictate our purchasing choices. With the cost of living soaring as suppliers and vendors look to recoup lost Covid profits consumers will be eager to keep costs down this Christmas. It’s an inescapable truth of commerce that cheap products and services are rarely sustainable.
This places an added responsibility on businesses to lead an ethical and sustainable change in industry behaviour this festive season.
If consumers can’t afford to spend money on their ethical preferences they will simply ‘vote’ according to their budget limitations. It would be unfair in these straitened economic times to green-shame them merely for choosing to make their cash stretch further on less sustainable products.
This is where businesses have an opportunity to lead by example. Supply chain management and logistics are critical in this, and especially for small businesses. E-commerce spending in 2020 increased year-on-year by 56% and there are strong indicators of a similar increase this year. The traditional Christmas shopping rush has well and truly moved online.
This will result in more fossil fuels being burned on delivering products across the UK. Thus, the need to mitigate this increase in pollution more urgent.
Green Fulfilment believes that the fulfilment stage of the supply chain offers a classic opportunity to introduce sustainable practices. With every passing quarter many of our partners are becoming more sustainable. They are using innovation to underpin their design and production techniques which we then seek to honour in our fulfilment practices. In this way provide the customer with a chance to vote with their wallets in favour of sustainable and ethical SMEs (small to medium enterprises).
Wouldn’t it be amazing if in Christmas future we saw our consumer focus shift in favour of seasonal produce and artisan crafts? These goods are truly special. Not only would this provide a boost to small businesses but it would be a real acknowledgment of the value of our existing resources, none of which are inexhaustible.
Sustainability need not equate to self-denial. Rather, it can be the start of a more rewarding journey. And one where we get to re-discover those business practices associated with producing small-batch, lovingly-made items and restore them to favour.