Essay Example on Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present








Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs United Nations 1987 it comprises of three dimensions environment social and economic To achieve sustainability both consumers and businesses also have to take up the responsibility Companies have to take up social responsibility by implementing sustainable business practices which refer to a set of activities and actions that decreases negative environmental impact by implementing practices that are environmentally and ecologically friendly and safe Cha Kim and Cichy 2018 1 At the same time consumers express their social and environmental concerns through ethical consumption It is defined as the conscious endeavour of the consumer to make their choices on the basis of their values or ethical principles Gulyas 2008 26 Some say that ethical consumption is a useful method to promote sustainable business practices however some argue the opposite stance In this essay sustainability refers to environmental aspects it argues that ethical consumption is effective to promote sustainable business practices to a certain degree The following examines both effectiveness and ineffectiveness of ethical consumption Then criticising arguments from both sides Finally conclusions are drawn on the determinants of ethical consumption and alternative methods to promote business consumption effectively Effectiveness of ethical consumption With the rise of ethical consumers the influence of ethical consumption is stronger

A third of UK consumers viewed themselves as ethical purchasers Cowe and Williams 2001 indicating that more consumers aware of the social and environmental issues such as global warming and carbon emissions Through ethical consumption consumers can express their ethical concerns into buying behaviour De Pelsmacker Driesen and Rayp 2005 Hence consumers are no longer buying products just based on price and quality but also weigh ethical criteria more heavily than before when making consumption decisions According to Ethical Consumer Markets Report 2016 the ethical consumption sales grew by 8 5 and it has already been the thirteenth year of consecutive growth Furthermore around 46 of European consumers claimed to be willing to pay considerably more for ethical products MORI 2000 In the tradition of economic theory firms seek to maximise its profit as if they use sustainable and ethical ways to produce the products it allows them to set a higher price Correspondingly since more consumers aware of ethical issues and buy ethical products more businesses are linking sustainability to their corporate strategy and bringing more ethical products in order to reach more customers and increase revenue 

Consuming less can promote sustainable business practices and reduce the impact on the environment Each purchase has ethical resource waste and community impact implications Young et al 2010 consumers can decide to lower the environmental consequences by decreasing material consumption The market offers a wide variety of products consumers tend to buy more unnecessary goods to fulfil their desire and momentary pleasure Fromm 1997 Nevertheless more consumption does not always mean higher needs satisfaction Jackson 2005 For example taking more public transportation instead of private cars and using more renewable energy These can cut down the use of fossil fuels which enable firms in oil and gas industries to reduce drilling and exploration Besides it can also alert companies that the public is more aware of sustainability Hence reducing consumption might encourage companies to develop sustainable business practices A company s behaviour and reputation is an important consideration for the ethical buying decisions Creyer and Ross 1997 Also Cowe and Williams 2001 found that over half of the respondents had bought or recommended a product based on the firms ethical reputation These prove that more consumers are making purchases based on a firm s role in society Forte and Lamont 1998 The impact of a company s ethical reputation is significant more companies tend to implement sustainable business practices including engaging more Corporate Social Responsibility CSR activities to contribute to sustainable development 

A firm s CSR initiatives do not only enable them to gain better ethical image but also have a direct influence on the attractiveness of its product Oberseder Schlegelmilch and Gruber 2011 it might coincide with some consumers ethical beliefs to increase the purchasing intentions Sen and Bhattacharya 2001 In short as a company s behaviour and image are two of the factors influencing consumers ethical purchasing decisions it tends to promote sustainable business practices within the firms in order to maintain or develop a better reputation Boycott is a form of ethical consumption the influence of boycott can also promote sustainable business practices From the above argument it indicates the importance of a company s socially responsible behaviour and reputation A study by Carrigan and Attalla 2001 revealed that consumers might not necessarily reward a firm s ethical and sustainable behaviour but expect to punish those irresponsible firms by boycotting their products For instance Nestle was criticised for using palm oil and BP s oil spill led to water contamination Ethical Consumer 2018 Gelb 1995 argued that the power of boycotts is increasing more consumers refuse to buy products which are not made throughout ethical or sustainable production 

This is supported by the evidence that over 50 of the UK respondents have boycotted a product for ethical issues Ethical Consumer 2016 There are also successful boycott campaigns like in palm oil using incident Nestle has taken actions to reduce environmental damage Wolf 2014 These stress more consumers are participating in boycott campaigns the impact of it can be powerful that it forces companies to make changes As a consequence since firms do not want to have poor reputation or their products being boycotted they are more likely to engage in more sustainable business practices Even though there are pieces of evidence supporting ethical consumption is effective to promote sustainable business practices but ethical purchasing also has disadvantages which it might not always be effective in all degree Below are some reasons showing that ethical consumption is ineffective to encourage companies carrying out sustainable business practices

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