What is the Future of Environmental Issues in Business?

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Since the recession there has been plenty of debate about how consumers and companies will approach green issues now that times are tight. Many are arguing that environmental concerns are a luxury that we can no longer afford and that as people don't have as much disposable income, the green movement is destined to end.

During the peak of environmental awareness, seemingly every business and political party was morphing their image into a greener, more considerate brand (just look at the Conservative Party logo for an example). But now that times are tight, will these same brands look to continue their quest towards more ethical sourcing or will a reduction in income dictate that they opt for the cheapest option?

For decades, arguments have raged over the impact that humans are having on the planet, and not a lot really changed. Over the last few years however there has been a noticeable shift in the attitudes of politicians and industry when it comes to green matters.

The green movement has seemingly made a breakthrough into the conscience of the general public and forced a change that was more apparent than we have ever seen before. Most of us now have council issued recycling bins, supermarkets are reducing packaging, the plastic bag is being hunted to extinction, things that we took for granted for decades are now being replaced by more sustainable alternatives.

Even electric cars are evolving into something that is comparable to their petrol fuelled counterparts, with the hydrogen fuel cell set to change the way we power our cars in the not too distant future.

So with the huge scale of evolution in the way businesses and consumers think about the environment, can brands really afford to drop their new eco-friendly image just when it's at the height of the public's consciousness?

Price will, of course, be a barrier to the continued expansion of the green movement. For now it seems its evolution has stalled when compared to recent years, but that is not to say that it is no longer a consideration. It is now something that is prominently in the mind of shoppers and actions such as recycling have become second nature.

Habits and attitudes towards waste and recycling have shifted in a relatively short space of time, and we now have a generation who have been brought up to think about sustainability and the environment. As time passes it is hoped that the price of maintaining high green credentials will come down, making it even easier to run an eco-friendly business. While the movement is now stuttering, the wheels have not completely come off, and it has surely gained enough momentum to have a lasting impact on the attitudes of both businesses and consumers.

In the promotional gifts market things have changed too. Promotional gifts have always been something of a disposable commodity and there is an argument to say that with this in mind, there can be no such thing as an eco-friendly promotional gift. But two things have happened that have made an impact both in the way that they are made and the way businesses are using them.
Many promotional gifts companies are now selling promotional gifts that have been made from recycled materials or that are recyclable, ensuring that the low cost items with a high disposable nature will have a negligible impact on the environment.

Also, in these post recession times, businesses are changing the way they use promotional gifts, opting to give more premium items to their best staff and customers rather than giving cheaper, more disposable items to everyone around them. This reduces the amount of waste that is generated by promotional gifts by ensuring that the recipient receives a premium item that they are more likely to keep.

While promotional gifts cannot claim to be perfect when it come to environmental issues it is certainly moving at the same pace as the rest of the business world. While the movement may have slowed down at the moment, enough momentum has been gained over the last few years to make it a key consideration in the minds of bosses today and in the future.

Many companies have switched to paint their brand in a green light and will actively seek to promote this through both the products they sell and buy. With a new mindset within businesses reflecting the new attitudes of consumers, slowly but surely environmental concerns will become an integral part of the buying and selling process.

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