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Being an actionist for sustainable consumption

2019-10-15GoldenBeePei Liang0

Pei Liang, President of China Chain-Store & Franchise Association
Consumption is not only one of the three carriages to drive economic development, but also a human activity that has a significant impact on environmental sustainability.

Many facts show that consumption has a wide and far-reaching impact on biodiversity and circular economy. Overconsumption and irrational consumption have negative effects while sustainable consumption, such as more consumption of sustainable aquatic products and RSPO certified products, is conducive to the protection of biodiversity. For example, reducing the use of packaging and plastic bags in all aspects of consumption can effectively protect the marine environment. The basic logic that consumption affects the environment is, in the buyer's market, consumption determines production, and sustainable consumption determines sustainable production.
Sustainable consumption is not only a kind of consumption behavior and concept of the public, but also a kind of business behavior and management concept of enterprises. Consumers are the protagonists of sustainable consumption. The protagonist has both rational and emotional aspects. He/she pursues good quality and low price, and also seeks the realization of personal value. He/she is influenced by factors such as his income, education background and social fashion. Although many consumers have not yet realized and acted on the issue of sustainable consumption, the trend is that the income level and education level are improving, the pursuit of quality consumption is improving, and the attention to the environment is increasing. All these become the basis to popularize sustainable consumption. This also provides an opportunity to educate and guide consumers to recognize and participate in sustainable consumption. It is timely for the government, enterprises and industry organizations to promote sustainable consumption.
A popular saying in supermarkets is that in order to occupy the shelf space of supermarkets, the first thing is to occupy the mental space of consumers. We want to encourage consumers to purchase products that can be sustainably consumed. First of all, let consumers know and love these products. China Chain-Store & Franchise Association (CCFA) started education on sustainable consumption in 2013. Starting from the promotion of the simplest labels, mainly about energy efficiency, organic, MSC, FSC, RSPO and other labels, we also promote sustainable products and various experience activities, including trial eating, on-site interaction, teaching consumers knowledge and tips to reduce waste, etc. This year, our focus is still on recommending sustainable products, reducing food waste and plastics, recycling and so on.

This year, there were nearly 2,000 shops participating in our educational activities. We intend to evaluate how many people have been affected by seven years of educational activities, how many services and consumption of sustainable products have been promoted, and how much contribution has been made to biodiversity and circular economy development. Educating consumers also faces many challenges. Effective communication is based on consumers' trust in merchants. This is like the process to introduce western philosophy into China. Wang Guowei, a Chinese historian and poet, said that, it can be loved but not be trusted and, it also can be trusted but not be loved. Why? It is because of insufficient and opaque information and due to the failure of the language and way that consumers like. In order to solve this problem, CCFA has developed a sustainable consumption platform to provide enterprises with methods and tools to educate consumers.
Another output of sustainable consumption education (we call it Publicity Week) is the participation of enterprises, especially local enterprises, and also promoting the innovative practice of corporate sustainable operations. These innovations not only enrich the experience of consumer education activities, but also make the sustainable consumption integrate into daily business activities of enterprises, and become the necessary choice for enterprises to practice social responsibility.

As an industry organization representing the consumer service industry, CCFA promotes sustainable consumption education, and also promotes the sustainable development of the industry, making due contributions to the promotion of green consumption and the realization of Sustainable Development Goals. Focusing on the reality of member enterprises, we explore and practice in three dimensions: sustainable supply chain, sustainable consumption and sustainable operation, and implement some projects, including consumer carbon account project, green procurement standard system, 12.3 workshop on reducing food waste, pilot project of green refrigerant application, etc. Remaining true to our original aspiration and keeping our mission firmly in mind, CCFA will keep seeking truth from facts, and constantly innovate, striving be an actionist to promote sustainable consumption!

(Translated by GoldenBee, the Chinese version of this article is issued on China Sustsinability Tribune wechat account)
(Images in this article are from the Internet)
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