When “An Inconvenient Truth” hit movie theaters in 2006, words like “environmentalism” and “sustainability” were not at the forefront of people’s minds. But since then, cities have been overrun by pollution, natural disasters have devastated entire countries and rising sea levels have threatened the sheer existence of major metropolises.
Amid all these signs of a changing earth, people have warmed up to the idea that corporate practices must change.
“A whopping 81% of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment,” reads a new report by Nielsen, a measurement and data analytics company.
This growing desire for corporate accountability is most popular among millennials, but it’s attractive among older generations as well: 72% of baby boomers and 65% of respondents who were 65 or older felt it was “extremely” or “very” important that companies introduce initiatives to benefit the environment.
Sustainability and wellness
Awareness about personal wellness and global sustainability hit the mainstream around the same time, and Nielsen’s research seems to suggest the trends are linked. The report notes an “intersection of healthy for me and healthy for we,” represented by naturally flavored drinks and non-GMO snacks. Almost half of global consumers are open to paying more for high-quality products, including those that incorporate sustainable materials or are organic.
At a time when Goop enthusiasts are willing to pay $85 for a “medicine bag” filled with “organic” crystals, none of this may come as a surprise. But in a culture that’s all about self-betterment, it’s interesting that we’ve found a way to connect saving the world to saving ourselves.
Developing countries lead the way
An outcry for corporate intervention has taken root around the world as our environmental crisis deepens. But in countries such as India, Colombia, and Mexico, where burgeoning markets mean serious pollution, it’s edging toward 100 percent of those surveyed.
The Nielsen report attributes this increased consciousness to life-threatening consequences of environmental degradation. An estimated 12.6 million people die every year from environmental health risks. In some cities, smog blankets the landscape, and residents can hardly breathe.
It’s no wonder that the people who are more affected by a problem would call for a solution — especially when their life may hang in the balance.