Dealing with the Rise of Green Consumer

For decades, investors have jumped on the bandwagon about how consumers can use their dollars responsibly. It's called investing in Ethical Funds (ie. ensuring your money is invested only in socially responsible and Earth-friendly companies). Ethical investing is consumerism at a niche level, meaning that not everyone is playing the investment game. Regardless, ethical investing has played a pioneering role -- arguably, long before green was trendy -- in raising awareness about how we use our dollars to better our communities and our planet.

Today, we're seeing the emergence of the Green Consumer. For years, consumers have read food labels at the grocery store. Now, consumers are reading the 'environmental' label on products. They're looking for terms like recyclable, phosphate free, organic, paper not derived from ancient forests, etc.

The Green Consumer represents one of the largest economic revolutions of our time: It is forcing change. While its strength in consumerism may be larger in some corners of the globe, its power to influence change extends worldwide, especially in the global economy where a green-friendly product manufactured in the east is in demand by consumers in the west. The more that is bought, the more that must be made. Thus, the net effect is more enviro-friendly products usurping old unfriendly standbys, and job creation to meet the demand for new green products. Good is slowly pushing the bad off store shelves.

Unlike the political arena, it's always election time in the new green era. Green consumers are voting every time they make a purchase. It's a steadily growing campaign, perhaps still shy of a majority win. But the momentum is clearly in the green consumers' favour, if their money dictates change.

So what does it mean for companies? The savvy responsible ones are racing to capture the votes, er, we mean spending dollars, of green consumers. The reward for companies could be years of winning votes, er, we mean consumer loyalty.

If your company hasn't entirely embraced the movement toward green just yet, it's not too late. Fortunately for you, the Green Consumer is still a growing force. But, day by day, label by label, it's becoming more and more educated about the choices that are available and shifting their loyalties, threatening to leave behind those companies who fail to adapt.

This article was written by Gregg McLachlan, founder and president of, Canada's Outpost for Green Jobs. It originally appeared in

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