According to Nielsen:
…66% of global respondents willing to pay more, over 50% of them are influenced by key sustainability factors, such as a product being made from fresh, natural and/or organic ingredients (69%), a company being environmentally friendly (58%), and company being known for its commitment to social value (56%). Sales, and coupons didn’t even make the top five. For this group, personal values are more important than personal benefits, such as cost or convenience.
These 2015 findings are in line with millennial and post-millennial consumers and entrepreneurs investing in efforts which will influence social equity and create a healthier environment. Amy Fenton, global leader of public development and sustainability, Nielsen made a strong statement about recent trends several years ago, “Consumers around the world are saying loud and clear that a brand’s social purpose is among the factors that influence purchase decisions.”
The effort for more environment and social responsibility also positively influences the lives of farmers around the world. For example, carrageenan (derived from red seaweed) provides economic stability in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Tanzania. According to a 2013 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations:
The available evidence indicates that the socio-economic impacts of carrageenan seaweed farming on coastal communities have been overwhelmingly positive. Because the production model favours [sic] small-scale, family operations over corporate, plantation-style farms, seaweed farming generates substantial employment relative to other forms of aquaculture. In addition, seaweed farming is often undertaken in remote areas where coastal communities face a reduced number of economic alternatives.
The report also details the environmental positives carrageenan provides:
Carrageenan seaweed farming can have positive effects on the environment because seaweeds could improve the benthic ecosystem, and sequester carbon, thereby offering the potential for carbon credits. Seaweed grown on rafts can also become an attractive haven for fish.
Support for carrageenan farmers is likely to have a similar impact on our global footprint as supporting Aspiration; a banking institution dedicated to performing social good, Lakeborn; an apparel company which donates clean water to those in need, Ben & Jerry’s; for their work on economic and social issues, along with multiple others.
Red seaweed farming, socially motivated consumer purchases, and stronger economies around the world will help empower environmentalists and humanitarians to continue spreading their message. While many probably do not look towards carrageenan or farming in general as a way to help various ecosystems, the continued practice of such activities will play a vital role in helping reverse the damage done to aquatic life, while increasing the standard of living for farmers living in harsh economic situations.
The increased economic support of companies which use eco-friendly products and openly support pro-environment practices will alter the way business is done on a global scale; increasing the awareness of how important it is for us to protect the planet and those who are using capitalism to make a positive impact.
Sarah Landrum explains the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), “Millennials expect modern brands to be open and communicative about how they operate in the world and to seek incremental and positive social change. Even the smallest deeds can affect distant shores, and that means every small effort counts.”
If every company decided to use ingredients like carrageenan which have a positive economic and environmental effect while encouraging their customers and employees to fight for social change — how will the world not change for the better?