The topic of climate change has been an ever present in global debate for around the last 30 years, but what exactly have we done about it? Despite eco-progressive initiatives, directives and change schemes being put in place at every level of society across the past few decades, we still have the same prognosis on our hands – and there’s now little doubt that tackling climate change once and for all will be the biggest fight of our generation.

Because of that, matters of sustainability and green thinking have become extremely hot topics in the last few years, with increasing onus being placed not only on states and major corporations to do more, but also on us as individuals in terms of the products we consume. To overcome climate change, there’s no doubt we have to act collectively. The question is, are consumers really willing to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to supporting sustainable retail?

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Will the consumer deliver?

The big question is surrounding whether attitudes have shifted enough that consumers are now interested in supporting the cause. According to a study from VELUX windows and roofing merchants, Burton Roofing, the numbers look reasonably promising. They found that:

  • 61% of consumers would be willing to pay more for eco-friendly DIY products.
  • 65% would be willing to spend up to 20% more on eco-friendly products
  • 69% of 18–44-year-olds would be willing to spend more on eco-friendly products, compared to 50% of those aged 45 and over.

While the survey respondents were answering questions largely in relation to DIY products, the willingness to spend more on potentially costly DIY items suggests a wider propensity for spending on green consumer goods. There does, however, appear to be a limit to this interest, with a 20% cost increase seemingly the cap for many buyers. With nearly seven out of ten younger people willing to buy green, there are encouraging signs that the tide is turning in the favour of a greener consumer, which should in turn create cheaper green products and potentially attract more buyers in the long term.

Do eco-friendly products cost more?

The long-standing issue for the more stubborn consumer has been the increased price of green products, but do they actually cost more? Of course, the answer right now in RRP terms is yes, but the reasoning behind that makes for interesting reading.

While some of the additional expense of green products can be down to the cost of the ingredients or materials used, much of it comes down to supply and demand. With demand lower for green products, production costs are higher – thus, the more people that get on board with the green revolution, the cheaper these products should get.

This is a pattern we’ve already seen in place even over the last ten years. Today, with a much, much wider selection of sustainable products available and a larger consumer audience for them, prices, while still often sitting above average, don’t carry the same daunting disparity.

Is it all down to consumers?

So, is the average buyer willing to pay more for sustainable day-to-day goods? Certainly, from the standpoint of younger generations, the answer seems to be yes. Of course, our collective responsibility as consumers plays only one part of the wider climate change picture. But, with increased financial interest and pressure from everyday customers, the large industries and corporations that serve us will have change their perspective too. 

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