Shopping sustainably is only one part of taking on the climate emergency. But it could be the starting point for wider change across society.
So it’s welcome news that a million-Euro innovation prize, The Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge, is seeking great ideas that help make daily life more sustainable.
The award is open to entrepreneurs with an idea for a product or service that creates a more sustainable planet. Entrants must be from the UK, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands or Norway, and their idea should be advanced enough to reach the market in the next two years.
Organisers are looking for relatable ideas – solutions that can be used in daily life or be made into a consumer product. Entries close on 15 April.
Why is it vital we support greener consumer choices?
It’s not just because the things people buy are a significant factor in global carbon emissions – particularly purchases in high-income households, which create a carbon footprint at least ten times higher than low-income ones. It’s also because good sustainable products and services help create the co-benefits that are essential to winning mass public support for further climate action.
These co-benefits might include saving people money, giving them more free time or creating a more pleasant local environment. If buying green can show people that climate action brings benefits today, they are more likely to back the wider societal shifts needed to take on the climate crisis in the long term.
And once public enthusiasm for sustainability grows, the pressure on those in power to take significant action in areas such as regulation and policymaking – tackling the systemic and structural issues that are fundamental drivers the climate crisis – will only increase.
The growing appetite for green goods and services is undeniable.
In one study by consultancy Accenture, roughly 83% of people said they felt it was “important or extremely important” that companies design their products to be more environmentally friendly. 72% of respondents said they were actively buying more environmentally friendly products than they did five years ago.
However, there are also signs that companies have not kept pace with consumer’s shifting priorities. In another survey of US and UK shoppers, 43% of people said brands made it harder for them to be environmentally friendly and ethical in their daily lives. Only 28% said brands made it easier.
It’s vital that consumers have practical, affordable, high-quality green products and services to choose from. These might make use of innovative materials, or encourage reuse and recycling, tackling the patterns of consumption that are fuelling the climate emergency. The Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge can help everyone live a greener life – by supercharging the next wave of innovation.