94% of Adult Consumers Say a More Sustainable Lifestyle is Important Finds Study From Compose[d] x MaCher

Sustainability Significantly Impacts Purchasing Behavior and 47% Would Pay More for Sustainable Products

New York, NY — May 6, 2021 — A new study, Sustainability & Consumerism: U.S. Consumer Behaviors and Preferences, released today by Compose[d], a digital creative services and strategy agency, and MaCher, a promotional product and design company, takes a deep dive on how consumers view sustainability and their expectations of brands. The study surveyed 1,000 consumers (age 18-75) in the U.S. in March 2021.

While sustainability alone doesn’t determine consumer purchasing behavior, it is of growing importance and with 1 in 3 consumers reporting it is hard to find sustainable options across all product categories — particularly electronics — there is an opportunity for brands to increase sustainability to attract a greater share of customers.

Key findings from the report include: 

  • 43% of consumers wish there was more information about living sustainably
  • Boomers and Gen X are 2x more likely to donate clothes for reuse and to actively reduce their use of single-use plastics, while millennials and Gen Z are 2-3x more likely than older consumers to be vegetarian/vegan and to ride a bike instead of driving
  • 61% find products produced with minimal environmental impact to be the top marker of sustainability
  • 60% of consumers say reusable products are more sustainable, 43% would pay more for reusable products with women being 23% more likely than men to pay more
  • Consumers (64%) would rather use products made from recycled materials than new/virgin material 
  • 75% of adults wish there was a way to offset the impact their travel has on the environment.
  • Baby Boomers & Gen Z are 20% more likely than any other age group to say they’d pay more for environmentally-friendly or reusable products.
  • “Recycled” is the word most likely to influence consumers: Boomers (65%), Gen X and Gen Z (52%), while the word “Green” is of great impact for millennials (51%) and Gen Z (43%)

“Sustainability has proven to be more than a buzzword or passing fancy for consumers. The brands that practice sustainability have an opportunity to capture consumer loyalty and align with them on a commitment to safeguard the environment for the future,” said Jason Parkin, President and Chief Creative Officer, Compose[d].

“Consumers are increasingly paying attention and selecting brands that put sustainability first. They want brands to share their values, and think a brand should be dedicated to sustainability and environmental transparency. Brands that ignore this call from consumers will be left behind as this trend continues to grow,” said Rochelle Turner, Head of Research & Insight, MaCher.

The full study can be found here.

About Compose[d]

Compose[d] is a digital creative services and strategy agency focused on addressing business goals for its clients through sustainable solutions. A Certified B Corp with a passion for using business as a force for good, Compose[d] is proud to partner with the top brands across retail, fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Compose[d] is headquartered in New York, NY. To learn more, visit composedcreative.com or follow us on Instagram

About MaCher

MaCher is a globally inspired Certified B Corp that uses data and academic research to create thoughtful, meaningful and sustainable solutions that get brands noticed. It specializes in responsibly manufacturing products to solve business problems – all the way from design to delivery. To learn more, visit macher.com.

The Underswell: 2020 Sustainability Roundup + Thoughts on 2021

Our Sustainability Partner, Derek Sabori/The Underswell gives his thoughts on this crazy year that we’ve had, some positive takes from it, and what we can look forward to in the year ahead.

What a mixed bag 2020 has been, right? I don’t know about you, but I came into 2020 thinking it was all good, that THIS was going to be the year. By March, however, it was clear that THIS was going to be THE year; just in a different way.

With that said, there were still lots of interesting things that came about on the sustainability front, so let’s have a look at a few of them:

Commitments from the big ones:

Microsoft announced they’ll be carbon negative by 2030; not neutral, but negative. They pledged to, “remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975” and committed to a $1 billion climate innovation fund. That was big news, especially since we’re getting down to the wire if we are going to follow the recommendations of the IPCC and a keep global warming within the recommended 1.5 degrees threshold. It’s going to take big commitments from the big players, and this was a good start to the year.

In addition to this, the CEO of the world’s largest money manager, BlackRock let the world know that sustainability wasn’t just for the tree huggers (it never really has been though, right!?) and that addressing climate was good for business, and good for investors. Larry Fink’s annual letter to CEOS of major companies said that, “Climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects” and that “awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance.” Additionally, in a letter to shareholders, he announced a number of initiatives to place sustainability at the center of their investment approach, including: making sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management; exiting investments that present a high sustainability-related risk, such as thermal coal producers; launching new investment products that screen fossil fuels; and strengthening their commitment to sustainability and transparency in our investment stewardship activities. A couple of key takeaways: the reshaping of finance, integrating sustainability, and transparency.

We found our focus

Biodiversity seemed to be at the center of it all, becoming, if you ask me, the buzzword of the year. Fashion rallied around it, calling it the priority of the industry, and the business industry as a whole took note. Biodiversity isn’t that far-fetched, and if it’s not a part of your sustainability vernacular, it needs to be. Here’s a little something to keep in mind: Humans rely on natural capital (resources). Natural resources are abundant in healthy ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems are due, namely to strong biodiversity. Therefore, protect biodiversity; protect us; protect our futures.

Products are made in partnership:

If there’s one thing that I saw 2020 unveil and bring to light is that our products aren’t made in a silo, and none of our companies operate that either. 

One of the things I ensure all my clients and students understand well is what I call a life cycle thinking approach (LCTA); which means that for every product, every component, every process, we have to look at it through the lens of the triple bottom line+ (social, environmental economic, and +governance), and across the product’s entire product life cycle (including its value chain), from cradle (raw material extraction) to grave (the product’s end of life). 

So, when COVID hit, and big brands scrambled to put halts on (or cancel altogether) their orders, postpone payments, and more, the rest of the value chain spoke up and the concept of responsible purchasing came front and center. Stories of underrepresented supply chain partners in developing countries struggling to pay some of the poorest workers in the world because of cancellations, highlighted the fact that business wasn’t always being done in a fair way, or in a partnership-focused manner. Factories, farmers and materials makers far back up the value chain, were often left dealing with the fallout on their own, even after years-long business relationships; the feeling was that they had expected more. Even just a dialogue, a plan, some communication would have been appropriate. And yes, these were unprecedented times, but when we can learn to consider the whole, we’ll be better off. 

We are all connected, and especially when it comes to business. None of us really make products or offer services in a vacuum, so let’s pay good attention to the ones who are next in line, supporting the work we do, even when their work is unseen by most. Let’s all see each other.

And so here we are again, end of the year, heading into a new year…do I dare say it again? That THIS will be the year. That THIS will be the really good year where the sustainability-related work we are all doing really picks up speed, drives further into the mainstream, and really proves itself to be the right thing to do. We all know it’s the RIGHT thing to do, but it’s not always the EASIEST thing to do. And that’s the point. What if it were? 

What if 2021 becomes the year where doing the right thing is the easy thing? Sounds too simple right? It’s not though – this takes a complete flip of the current system. If you haven’t read The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken (editor at Project Drawdown and more) and this topic intrigues you, it’s a must read. And you’re going to want to read it twice; trust me.

That said, maybe that idea’s not too far off. We’ll see a new administration, new commitments, new awareness, new urgency… a new year. So yeah, I’m hopeful.

Let’s just keep it simple. Let’s make 2020 the year where doing the right thing (by people, and planet) became common; expected, predictable, almost boring. Imagine just a regular ol’ boring year…yeah, I think that sounds good right now.

Happy New Year!
– Derek (The Underswell)

Oil Companies Want to Eliminate Their Own Carbon Emissions

According to a Vice article, the largest six oil companies announced a large initiative to eliminate their own carbon emissions using carbon capture and storage (CCS) off the shores of the UK. The way CCS works is by “siphon(ing) off the CO2 emissions from industrial facilities and pipe them into a saline aquifer beneath the bed of the North Sea”, where they would theoretically remain forever. If these efforts are successful, the UK could eliminate half of its carbon emissions. It seems too good to be true, which is why many are skeptical to CCS’s true environmental benefits. Carbon capture and storage critics argue that adopting this technique would only keep oil companies in power without much change to the actual root of the problem. Others site the large amounts of money it would need to make these machines and train employees. Instead of funneling this money into CCS, critics suggest shifting focus into energy efficient sources to replace coal plants in general. “According to the Financial Times, around $900 billion – about one-third of the value of big oil firms – would evaporate if governments attempted to adhere to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature target” suggesting oil companies could be the true benefactors of CCS. It is an interesting conversation and one that we must act upon sooner rather than later if we want to save our planet.

Carbon Emissions Are Down 17%

Researchers from the Nature Climate Change have released information that in April of 2019 global CO2 emissions had dropped by 17%  and in some places like the US and UK, these numbers have fallen by a third. This is all in part to the world hitting pause on everyday life due to COVID19. Going forward, even if some restrictions are lifted researchers project a 7% drop in overall carbon emissions by the end of the year, which is more than a 3% decrease from the 2008 financial crisis. According to climate scientist, Corinne Le Quéré of the University of East Anglia, “CO2 stays in the atmosphere a long, long time, even though we had a massive change in emissions, that did not affect the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere very much. It’s small compared to what we’ve put in the atmosphere for decades.” In order for scientists to measure the earth’s CO2 emissions they had to study mountains of data and statistics about car traffic, electricity usage, airline flights, and manufacturing, in order to build a global picture of how the pandemic has cut emissions. Satellites cannot be programed to receive CO2 emissions in real-time in orbit and to make matters trickier each country has its own unique carbon emission output. However grim our current global situation is, this research shows that not all of us have to commute to the office every day and that a likely future of working from home might be in the cards. Possibly not all events like conferences have to be in person either. Over the last few months, NYC has closed several miles of streets off to cars, allowing more room for pedestrians to safely practice social distancing. If we continue to do this in other major cities, the outcome will have a lasting positive impact in the long run. Looking back at the 2018 financial crisis, the Obama administration pumped funding into renewable energy sources, why can’t we do the same in this crisis?

New York City in 1911

New York is ever-changing and even though we live in a very different time, nothing makes the past feel more immediate than video. This footage, shot in 1911 by the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern, was first restored by MoMA in 2018 and now again by video editor Denis Shiryaev. It shows different neighborhoods all around Manhattan, with much of the same architecture and landmarks that we still see today. And while it’s fun to see all the things that are different (the clothes! the cars! the signage!), it’s even more interesting to feel that we’ve walked the same roads as so many others who came before us and loved this city just as well.

1 Trillion Trees

To combat the ever looming climate change, a new campaign is gaining traction: planting 1 trillion trees. A new ambitious project under the World Economic Forum launched in January called 1t.org has set to achieve this goal. If achieved, this would be a tremendous step forward in combating climate change. According to Fast Company, “a 2019 study estimated that restoring forests with around 1.2 trillion trees could store more than 200 gigatons of carbon”. Currently, the world looses a U.K. sized chunk of forest every year, sometimes for the sake of products such as hamburgers and shampoo. One of the problems is cutting down trees more rapidly than they are able to mature. In some cases, forests are able to regenerate on their own by placing fences to safe guard them. It is more important to keep existing trees safe than planting new ones. For example, the Amazon forest to protect young trees from cattle. Another problem lies in efforts of monitoring trees daily, which often times falls short. Fast Company estimates that “planting 60 billion trees will cost at least $4 billion a year to finish the campaign within 20 years”. To combat the high cost, governments could implement incentives similar to those in the solar industry, where landowners quickly plant and maintain trees. Pachama is a startup that uses drones and satellite imaging to track how trees grow and their carbon storage.  According to Justin Adams, the director of the Tropical Forest Alliance at the World Economic Forum, “we’re scrambling to really sort of figure out what are the workstreams that need to be in place to actually measure those commitments, track progress against those, so that by . . . next year, we will be able to talk more explicitly about how that would all work.”  There is no doubt that this initiative has sparked momentum throughout the world as we continue to combat climate change.

Kathleen McMahon Accessibility in React components

I recently had the pleasure of attending Kathleen McMahon’s talk on Accessibility-flavored React components make your design system delicious!. Accessibility on the web has been a big topic in our office for a while. It’s a part of the web development skill set that often goes overlooked and it is something we can all work on being better at. Kathleen’s talk was two-fold. She showed us examples of what the web is like for users with adaptive needs and how we (designers and developers everywhere) are failing these users. It’s good to note that accessibility is not just screen readers. There are font sizing, zooming, contrast, and other issues to keep in mind. Then she gave us a look into good methods for constructing reusable react components with a focus on keeping the final output properly accessible. This was a refreshing glimpse into the problem and path forward with making the web usable for everyone.

Millennials & The Dinner Party

In a recent article published by Vox, author Nisha Chittal explains how millennials “killed” the traditional dinner party and how (and why) it’s been reinvented and replaced by more casual gatherings. There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the behavior of younger generations and how that behavior is directly driven by values (shameless plug for our Sustainable Insights Report!) and the way that we gather together over a meal is no exception. For so many years, dinner parties were formal, multi-course affairs and, as Chittal writes, “having a dinner party was a way to show off your extensive social connections, your wealth, your place in society. It was a sign of having good taste — which is ultimately all about class anxiety.” Many millennials, on the other hand, were coming of age during/just after the Great Recession and had far more financial stress than worry about anything else. And with home ownership at a record low, people had neither space nor funds to throw anything lavish. Instead, entertaining has become more focused on time spent together and connection, rather than which fine china is on the table, and millennial or not, that’s something worth celebrating.

How Gen Z is Dealing With a Looming Climate Apocalypse

Vice recently sat down with 9 Gen Z’ers to discuss the innvitable climate apocalypse. It seems like in this day and age, only doing the bare minimum when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint is not enough and often times leads to “eco-anxiety – the stress associated with facing a climate crisis and uncertainty about the future”. 

Recently, there have been enormous outcries from Gen Z’ers with a sense of urgency to act now for the future of our planet. Many of the interviewees have changed their diets (many becoming vegans and vegetarians) and waste consumptions (eliminating packaged goods and bicycling as a form of transportation) in efforts to make a change. However, the majority still experience eco-anxiety when thinking of our world vanishing before their eyes. Most feel paralyzed with sadness and grief of not being able to do enough or completely overwhelmed as this is a much larger issue. In many cases, as children they were exposed to an environment that sparked eco-anxiety, once they understood the consequences of the world’s waste. “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” summarizes the exact steps we, as a society need to take in order to protect our planet.

It is hard to not get stuck in a nihilist fashion of thinking that days on this planet are numbered, so why do anything or bother at all. The problem begins as a refusal to accept there is a need for any of this change, be it on a personal, social, and global aspect. Change can only happen with shake-ups in power through activism and voicing these concerns. According to an article published in The Nation, as Gen Z comes closer to the voting age in 2020 they could force many politicians into dealing with climate issues compared to any previous generations. A recent study found “42 percent of millennial Republicans recognize that climate change is caused by humans, while only 30 percent of conservative boomers do” which would profoundly impact choosing the right candidate on either side. Furthermore, climate change was ranked among the top 10 issues that would influence their decision in the upcoming election. With recent public polls showing many becoming increasingly more anxious about the inevitable climate apocalypse, failing to address this on the political fronts will hurt a party’s ability to succeed. Gen Z have stepped up to take the reigns and continue to be a driving force within the climate change conversation.  

Hacktoberfest 2019

Hacktoberfest is here to help make it easier to give back to the open-source projects and communities that help power our digital lives. To get started you need to register on their site, then start submitting quality PRs to any public GitHub repository. The first 50,000 participants that meet their four-PR threshold in October get a free t-shirt.