Sustainability—companies are designing for it, consumers want it, and the planet needs it. The good news is that Americans overwhelmingly support the idea of making environmentally conscious choices. But when it comes to actually shopping sustainably, things get a little more challenging.
According to Fast Company, a recent study of 1,000 American adults on behalf of bioengineering company Genomatica highlights a serious gap between the importance consumers place on sustainability and their willingness and ability to enforce green habits with their own choices. Despite the fact that 70 percent of the Republicans and 80 percent of the Democrats polled said that they try to make sustainable choices, almost half (48 percent) of those surveyed consider convenience and a lack of awareness or ability obstacles to eco-friendly shopping.
As those results imply, it’s an issue of knowledge as much as effort. Just under three out of four of consumers who take the time to read product labels (about 56 percent of total consumers) say they don’t know what exactly makes up these very goods. And, they’re also unsure how to go about finding more information. These findings are undoubtedly not limited to sustainable foods, clothing, and beauty products. Indeed, eco-minded furniture manufacturers and designers trying to sell their clients on sustainable design have surely felt the effects of the consumer who’s just not sure how to make smarter choices.
Given the gulf between the belief in the importance of sustainability and the knowledge of how to put it into practice, Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling suggests that companies who want to win over the sustainability minded will have to help customers with their homework. “There’s a real opportunity for the industry to educate consumers to help them get over these hurdles, and for brands to market and deliver more sustainable products with greater transparency,” he said in a release announcing the survey results.
In other words, to capture the growing market of consumers who want to make less harmful choices, it’s imperative to explain how a particular product or service achieves environmental goals. Many people already want to make buying choices that help the planet—it’s just a matter of showing them the way. That may mean the onus will fall on designers and brands to encourage green choices on the interiors front.