“Reduce, reuse, recycle” is a well-known mantra of socially conscious consumers. It offers a variety of choices leading to the same intention; to lessen personal impact on the environment. Today we see business adhering to a similar model as they work to cut back on harmful materials and develop new products and services. A few recent approaches:
Reduce: Many organizations are looking to benefit the environment by cutting back on the raw materials they use. P&G announced this week it will transition its portfolio of powder laundry detergents to a new compacted formula beginning in 2011. The reduction in materials will save energy and water needed to produce and consume the products, as well as reduce the packaging size – therefore reducing fuel and saving the company additional costs.
Reuse: Other organizations are looking at how to improve their products by reusing old materials in creative new ways. For example, Electrolux has created its Vac from the Sea initiative, which removes and reuses plastic currently polluting oceans to manufacture its latest line of products. Not only is the plastic waste a source of low-cost materials, the process will clean up threatened marine habitats and raise awareness for the plastic waste issue.
Replace: A few standout companies are lessening their impact by choosing completely new materials. While some companies have cut ties with unethical palm oil suppliers, Unilever announced this week it plans to replace palm oil entirely with algae-derived algal oil. The alternative will be incorporated into the organization’s food, soap and lotion products – all of which currently contain the controversial palm material.
We applaud organizations making efforts to reduce their impact on the environment. But we must offer a standing ovation to companies that develop or source alternatives, without compromising quality or failing to meet consumer demands. When all factors can be satisfied without harmful materials, it’s a win for the company, the consumer and the environment.