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Scaling Sustainability

A combination of extreme weather and natural disasters in recent years deepened concerns about climate change, especially among younger consumers. While many try to do their part, consumers feel that the small steps they are currently taking are not enough to combat the bigger problems they can’t control.

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At the same time, too much information and conflicting reports and opinions, have created some uncertainty and confusion about the seriousness of the problem and what needs to be done to protect the environment.

Consumers expect brands and companies to simplify the journey for them. Not as easy as it sounds when trust in big brands and companies is also waning, especially among younger Gen Z skeptics. As more brands join in making promises to be net-zero by 2040, or other random dates, the majority of consumers still don’t know what this means, leading to more questions than answers about business’ true motives, transparency, and the authenticity of their commitment to sustainability as a priority.

As consumers become more aware and more educated about industry and big business practices, they will be more likely to put their trust in smaller, more innovative, purpose-driven companies that make saving the planet their main reason for being.

What it means for businesses?

1. Net-Zero promises for the future are no longer enough – consumers want to see and feel change in the products and packaging they use today!

Consumers want more than just promises, they want to see and feel true changes that make a difference in their lives today, and are not cost prohibitive.

84% of consumers are worried about plastic pollution and its impact on the environment (Oceana Poll/IPSOS Poll November 2021). The products and services consumers see as most important to them personally when it comes to sustainable consumption are:

  • Packaging 40%
  • Animal welfare 35%
  • Fairly traded and produced 31%
  • Use of renewable raw materials 29%
  • No use of environmentally harmful raw materials 27%

While big companies are trying to figure out how to be sustainable AND be profitable, smaller companies are finding ways to overcome challenges and are entering the market with “real” solutions, hoping to be a driving force for broader change.

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2. Sustainable products shouldn’t have to be the more expensive one. Buying sustainable also shouldn’t be a trade-off for quality or function.

Participating in protecting the planet should be achievable and affordable for everyone. Purpose-driven brands are on the rise as consumers demand brands that are authentic and support the same social causes they’re aligned with.

Consumers don’t want to sacrifice efficacy for doing what’s right. They want easy, convenient affordable and accessible products that are both functional and friendly to the environment. They want products that fit seamlessly into their day-to-day lifestyles, do the job, and make them feel good about their contribution to protecting the planet.

Younger generations are tired of the talk, and expect businesses to find a way to make sustainable products an easy option.

3. Gen Z and Millennials, looking to live healthier lifestyles, want more eco-friendly choices and are paying attention to brands that are making it happen.

  • More than two-thirds of Millennials and over 70% of Gen Z say they want to lead healthier, more environmentally friendly lifestyles. (GlobeScan 2020)

  • 34% of Gen Z and 32% of Millennial shoppers in the US say they would buy more sustainable/eco-friendly fashion items if they were more widely available. (Statista)

Millennials and Gen Z made up a combined 57% of the market share for sustainable fashion in 2021 and this number is expected to increase to 61% by 2025 as Gen Z incomes increase. (Statista)

4. Circularity is the future – find ways to participate now.

The sharing based market has grown at double digit rates in the last few years. Globally, the shared apparel market is expected to grow from $4.7 billion in 2021 to $7.5 billion in 2026, twice as fast as the traditional industry. (Statista) The closet of the average woman contains apparel items that are left unused for, on average, 98% of their useful life.

How can your brand or business participate in the shared or circular economy? Find ways to integrate buy-back, upcycling, re-selling or rental programs into your business model.

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5. Be transparent, accountable and collaborative – give consumers tools and knowledge that empower them to make smarter choices and take action.

Younger Millennials and Gen Z consumers, in particular, want to see the results of their efforts and will be seeking tools to help them control and monitor the impact brands and businesses are making.

Businesses should think about ways to partner with consumers to give them more control over changes they want to see, and find ways to reward them for their efforts. Do your customers feel connected to your environmental efforts?

6. Employees are consumers too – empower and reward employees to be ambassadors for action and change. Create “Green Teams” to help drive internal communication and change.

According to a study by the National Environmental Education Foundation, close to 90% of employees engaged in their company’s sustainability work say it enhances their job satisfaction and overall feelings about the company.

7. Find good partners.

Partners can help with speed and scale when it comes to sustainability. For instance, our partnership with Cloverly allows us to offer clients Carbon Offset credits with each order of merchandise.

Brands Doing it Right

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Klarna

A Swedish fintech company that launched a CO2 emissions tracker and offers carbon footprint insights to customers.

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IKEA

IKEA has made a commitment to becoming 100% circular by 2030 by designing circular products, using only renewable or recycled materials and testing more circular services for customers.

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Ocean Bottle

We’re proud to call Ocean Bottle an approved Lapine vendor. Each purchase of an Ocean Bottle pays for 1000 ocean-bound plastic bottles to be collected before they reach the water.

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Refried Apparel Company

Another great Lapine-approved vendor, Refried Apparel transforms unsold clothes into unique, one-of-a-kind, stylish apparel, bags and accessories.

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The Grove Collaborative

A one-stop e-commerce subscription service that curates sustainable, safe, healthy, and effective products for the home that won’t break the bank.

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Day Owl Backpacks

“Building the first completely circular bag company,” Day Owl recycles materials destined for landfills by repairing and refurbishing them for multiple owners.

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