More shoppers want to buy green

Shoppers are increasingly concerned about the environmental and ethical credentials of the organisations they buy from.

That was the message to retailers at Green Retail ’08, a two-day event to help businesses address sustainability issues.

Delegates heard that research by Ipsos Mori showed concern about the environment peaked in January 2007, when one in five people in Britain said it was one of the most important issues facing Britain in the wake of the Stern Report and Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth.

By last month this had fallen to just 8% – but this figure is still higher than it has been in the last 10 years.

Jenny Dawkins, head of corporate responsibility at Ipsos Mori, said: “Environment remains the issue that people want companies to pay attention to over the next few years.”

Research found eight in ten people want to hear about what companies are doing to be more green and ethical, but 79% thought companies were not telling the truth about their CSR policies.

Ms Dawkins said polls last year showed that 15% of people said they deliberately chose not to buy something because of ethical or environmental issues.

Retailers whose consumer base was largely middle-aged, affluent people with children needed to particularly focus on CSR, as these were the groups Ipsos Mori’s research showed were most likely to buy green.

Martin Blake, head of CSR and sustainability at Royal Mail, shared tips from his company’s Carbon Management Programme.

He said the company’s green improvements are expected to save £133.5m – a fact which makes it easier to sell green changes to his colleagues.

Mr Blake said: “For me, the business case sells it and when you link it to the other issues on the carbon agenda, it becomes a bit of a no brainer.”

Kate Martin

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