consume, then change the climate for the better

Every so often I read something and my faith is restored in humanity. Today it’s a press release which indicates that young people might well dictate the sustainability brand agenda in years to come.

Research by the Carbon Trust has found that folks aged 18 to 25 are starting to favour brands that reduce their carbon emissions. They are beginning to show a new type of loyalty in their purchasing decisions – one that goes beyond the shallow nature of a cloth emblem and aligns itself with climate change.

Interestingly, it’s in China where this is starting to really take root. The study revealed that 83% of young people there would show greater attachment to carbon-conscious brands – not only that, but 60% of them claim they would stop buying a product if the manufacturer refused to commit to measuring its carbon impact.

Compare this to the UK with respective figures of 55% and 36% and it appears that the East holds the key to unlocking mass demand for low carbon consumerism. It is in a great position to do so, with its vast manufacturing output, and has a home advantage as its products don’t have far to travel.

As a green consumer for some years now, I often lament at how much stuff is made overseas. If you check the label of many an ‘eco-brand’ which originates in the UK, its manufacturing journey tells a different story.

For me, true sustainability begins at home, but the economics tend to make this cost-prohibitive and it takes a brave company to go down this route. But there are change-makers out there.

Right now there is a great little start-up in West Wales – Hiut Denim – which is taking a risk. It is sourcing sustainable organic denim and making jeans in Cardigan – a town which, until 10 years ago, was home to Britain’s largest surviving jeans factory.

Its strapline is ‘Our town are making jeans again’ – it’s a great story. But keeping it local comes with a hefty price tag; the cost of buying a pair of Huit jeans currently stands between £130 to £230.

And therein lies the rub. Perhaps we British don’t rate carbon as high as the Chinese because if we did, we would be somewhat guilt-tripped into making tough decisions when it comes to affordability.

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