Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Procter and government announce new targets

Two significant announcements today - one from a brand owner and the other from government. Taken separately they are both important stories, but taken together they mark a huge change in the relationship between individuals, brands and government. Procter and Gamble released news of the company's plans to reduce the environmental impact of their products, while the UK Government announced "pay as you throw" plans. Procter's move to 'green' 10% of its products will help consumers to reduce their impact and reduce the amount they recycle, so they'll have lower recycling bills. If local councils do adopt this type of pay as you throw scheme, then consumers are very likely to choose the products that help them to keep their waste bills down. A good move by Procter and one that will protect their business in years to come.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

GAP accused of child labour

GAP, the clothing retailer and member of Red initiative, was today accused of using child labour in the production of its clothing in India. Despite being rated as one of the most ethical retailers in the Time Out shopping league, ERI respondents have consistently rated GAP as one of the least ethical retailers on the index. Nearly 90% of people who rated GAP poorly did so because they believe "the company exploits its workers e.g. low pay, long hours or poor working environment" and the latest news will dent GAP's reputation even further.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Is organic any good?

News yesterday from BBC says that some goods may be stripped of their organic status if they've been flown into UK. If implemented this will help clear up some of the confusion that exists in consumers' minds. Back in 2006, to coincide with Fairtrade fortnight, ERI conducted research which shows half of UK shoppers weren't clear about the differences between fairtrade, organic and ethical goods. About 5 in 10 people say they are confused as to what the terms mean.

That said, many shoppers think organic means 'healthier and better for people and the environment'. Not so, according to AAGill in The Times, but the Soil Association might disagree.

But consumers are still choosing organic, and in increasing numbers, although they see the irony when organic food is flown thousands of miles to their supermarket.

Our research clearly shows that the people who buy organic also want less packaging and locally sourced products. If advertising promises this, but the store fails to deliver, shoppers pick up on it straight away. One ERI respondent says, "It is bad when a company does a big ad campaign about local sourcing, then a visit to the shop shows they are not. Am fed up with veg from Chile, Morocco etc, not what they advertise at all."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Netherlands launches tax on packaging

From January 2008, the Netherlands will employ a carbon-based packaging tax that could herald the start of wider EU movement forcing companies to take CO2 emissions into account when making packaging decisions, according to Sustainable is Good and Environmental Leader reports.

CO2 emissions from the production of each kilogram of packaging will form the basis of the calculations.

Changes in packaging production for the Dutch market could give international companies a chance to save money and improve their standing in other European markets, by promoting their products' reduced carbon footprint.

Such measures will appeal to consumers, as the ERI shows 48% of consumers are now looking for less packaging when they shop. This is particularly true if regulators introduce personal carbon allowances, as consumers' carbon footprint may well benefit from a reduction in the CO2 emissions going into product packaging.

Makes me ask though: Will a carbon-based packaging tax encourage companies to make their packaging more easy to recycle, using either existing or new materials?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Are consumers ready for Pay as you throw?

The LGA (Local Government Association) recently proposed a ‘pay as you throw’ scheme after a survey found that almost two-thirds supported being charged under the system in return for council tax rebates.

Of course it's not the first time we've heard about plans that focus on personal responsibility. David Miliband announced plans to review pesonal carbon allowances in July 2006.

ERI and Lightspeed research shows people are aware of their carbon consumption even if they don’t refer to it in those terms. Their current focus is on recycling, rather than reusing or reducing. Around 90% people claim to recycle regularly, but fewer people are willing to limit air travel (30%) or use their car less (40%).

The good news, however, is well over 80% believe they personally can make a difference to climate change, but they do want some reward from brands or government for their actions.

The Live Earth full report covers this in more detail on the ERI website. To read more visit our reports section at www.ethicalreputationindex.com.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Time Out rates London's most ethical stores

In association with the Ethical Trading Initiative, this week's Time Out has rated London's most ethical retailers says GreenBiz. Marks and Spencer, Gap and H&M are rated highest.

For me the differences between what shoppers think (ERI) and the results of audits such as this one are very revealing.

According to the ERI, Marks and Spencer's consumer ratings are rising faster than any other retailer measured. Gap, however, are not getting the recognition the Time Out survey suggests they deserve.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Gordon Brown is urged to act on supermarkets using factories that pay workers 4p per hour for up to 80 hours a week says the Scotsman.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Are banks pouncing on green to differentiate their products and make more profit asks The Telegraph? With commendable honesty, Barclaycard, which recently launched Breathe, says "yes" but goes on to say they are also responding to customer demand.

The article also references the Live Earth concerts held on seven continents 07.07.07. Find out whether the concerts did change public perception - of climate change and the companies sponsoring the event - download our free Live Earth summary report, conducted in partnership with Lightspeed Research, at www.ethicalreputationindex.com

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tesco have introduced what they call 'naked deliveries', an attempt to reduce the 4 billion bags their grocery delivery service uses every year. I'm trying to imagine what 4 billion bags looks like and how much oil and energy is used to produce them. It's quite hard. But it is a fitting response to consumers concerns which at the moment are focussed on packaging and recycling. Tesco's website today 13.06.07 has information right in the middle of their home page about the scheme.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dixons CEO calls for an end to standby

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that an average home in UK has 12 appliances on standby at any one time. Dixons CEO John Clare is meeting suppliers today to call for the end to the standby button on electrical goods. Dixons are the latest company to attempt to reduce energy use of its products. Recently Philips announced a 'green tick' logo to denote more energy efficient goods.

Although the Dixons item made the national news, I didn't find any mention of it - or the company's sustainability policies - on Dixons homepage. Companies announcing these types of schemes should support the news with information on their websites if they want to get their message across to both customers and business contacts.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

As the Carbon Trust's work shows, there is pressure on the airline industry to react to consumer and legislative pressures. The reaction of the airline industry varies widely, but regional carrier flybe has launched a scheme to alert customers to carbon offsetting. Using a traffic light system the airline aims to help customers decide whether to offset the carbon or not.

Morrisons flags recyclable levels, Sainsbury's focus on sourcing


Hot on the heels of the Carbon Trust campaign comes announcements from two supermarkets. The first from Morrisons is a scheme launched to help customers identify which goods can be recycled.

Our Ethical Reputation Index research shows a lot of people are confused about their role reducing waste and energy - so this scheme should be welcome news to consumers. Two-thirds of people surveyed on the ERI says that they no longer see recycled products as cheaper or inferior alternatives.

And Sainsbury's have announced a scheme to highlight provenance and British sourcing of food.

Meanwhile, Asda are about to launch a new campaign to highlight local sourcing of their milk, reports Brand Republic.

Food quality and sourcing is a big issue for shoppers. Our ERI research shows a quarter of UK's supermarket shoppers are interested in local sourcing . However they're even more concerned about packaging - nearly half are trying to avoid too much packaging when they go shopping.

Carbon Trust new campaign to help business




The Carbon Trust has launched a campaign to persuade business to do find more ways of reducing carbon output. News of the story is featured here.

Looking for a picture of the Carbon Trust I came across this instead - a diagram showing the market value at risk if sectors do not act to reduce carbon emissions. A difficult thing to calculate I'd imagine, but the relative positions seem pretty logical with aviation and energy most exposed.


Thursday, May 24, 2007


General Electric announced today that 'green' sales have doubled in the past two years to $12 billion. At the same time, overall sales at GE grew by just 20%. General Electric are broadcasting a press conference live today.

General Electric and BP have both teamed up with ivillage to launch a new Web channel "to show women how easy it is to go green."

Recently NewsCorp, IBM and Citigroup, have announced plans to invest billions of dollars in alternative energy, energy efficiency and carbon emission trading.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Yahoo! has launched a 'go green' initiative in the US. How will it affect consumers views of the company?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Tesco's shareholders have forced ethical issues onto the public agenda. Several newspapers have picked up on this including the Scotsman business pages. The comments below the article are interesting. Not only do they show that readers are thinking about these issues, but digital and social media is allowing them to participate in a debate. It means companies are becoming more open to public inspection and that impacts on their ethical profile.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Technology catches up

Environmental concerns have mainly focussed on the food and fashion industries, then transport. Now technology companies are coming under scrutiny. After we saw Greenpeace slam Apple, Steve Jobs announced new measures to green Apple. Now Philips have launched a new green tick to help guide consumers to more environmentally friendly products.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Lime 'green living with a twist'

Nice idea at Lime 'green living with a twist' to pull together 'eco' sites and blogs to provide comms opportunities.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Marketing Green

I just stumbled across this blog called Marketing Green and thought it was great especially like the interview with Toyota about priuschat.com, very inspiring. Then I saw it was written by David Wigder at Digitas and then I realised why. They are a very interesting company - and I'm sure David is a very interesting person. So I'm going to take a closer look at this blog and read a few more articles.

But that raises a point - which is bothering me right now - how do other people find the time to keep up to date with all their reading? I've just spent 2.5 hours on a Sunday evening reading items related to corporate responsibility, updating my del.icio.us tags and reading all the stuff I should be posting on this blog. It's 23.04 and I've not spoken more than 10 words to my partner all night - he even suggested a web conference tomorrow evening - he's not travelling or anything he was going to do it from another room in our house! (in case anyone doubts our sanity, this was a joke and he has got a new pc with a webcam today so wanted to try it out!)

My take on this is that I must be slow else how do other bloggers manage to post so prolifically. Mind you I did do some other domestic stuff today - maybe real life and any kind of second life just don't mix?

Anyway, nice blog David Wigder and I look forward to reading more soon.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How people shop for clothes and shoes...

... this is a bit new for me, advertising what I'm working on in this 'blog. Up until now I've just noted things that have caught my eye in the press. But I'm planning a project with a few like- minded people and so I thought I'd plant a seed and see what grows...

So right now there are 4 of us and we are all interested in how 'green' issues are affecting shoppers on the high street. I did an interview for the BBC last year, but that looked mainly at younger shoppers, cheaper clothes and so-called 'fast fashion'.

Our group is interested in a wider range of shoppers to see which issues are registering with them, if it is affecting buying behaviour and how this is changing perceptions of brands.

We're planning a meet up next week to discuss how we'll run an ethnographic study of shoppers (who've agreed to take part!) and so if it sounds interesting, drop me a line and maybe we can work together or come and present the results to you and/or your company.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sexy green car show

The Sexy Green Car Show at Eden Project starts today. It's interesting to see how the motor manufacturers and trade bodies are going to respond to consumer pressure and/or legislation.

D&AD event at RIBA about sustainability

Last night went to a D&AD event at RIBA which was all about sustainability. Speakers included Russell Davies, John Grant and David founder of Howies. All 3 were naturally funny and charming speakers who made it look easy.

Russell's speech was great. I'm not certain I can do it justice, so instead I'll think I'll link to his thought process as he develops the presentation.

John Grant was very entertaining, showing some ideas to answer his own question, "How to reduce consumers' carbon emissions by 70%". The idea that sticks in my mind is the "Church of Climate Change Jerusalem". Very funny...guess you had to be there... but it made people laugh and got his point across that we consumers would need to re-design our lives to achieve one planet living.

And David's story of how Howies became the "3rd largest clothing company in Cardigan Bay" showed he does what he says. He said if you want to embed your principles in your business and communications then you need to "tell people what you're about in a way that charms them". Easy to say, hard to do, but absolutely right.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Is this the green 'tipping point'?

Great 'blog entry shows a huge leap in the number of people searching for global warming. If you like this blog entry you can hugg it.

Retailers stampede for "green pound"

The Scotsman reports that retailers are rushing to capture the consumer's green pound. In the UK, New Consumer reports that Marks and Spencer ranks above other food retailers Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Asda and Morrisons according to the Ethical Index. But the supermarkets are investing a lot in trying to catch up. But, some supermarkets are sending confusing messages. While there corporate sites are declaring their green credentials, in store customers are incentivised with 2 for 1 offers. Could they be accused of encouraging over-consumption?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Strategic corporate social responsibility

Strategic corporate social responsibility takes the long term view reports AOL money and finance. I can't see how anyone could disagree and those companies who are acting now are investing in long term sustainability ofbusiness by limiting their exposure to rising energy costs, potential restrictions on energy use and wastage. They are also gearing up to meet a significant change in consumer demand

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bond Trust attracts £35 million in external assets

The London Stock Exchange reports that interest in ethical investments is growing. The report says that the Royal London Ethical Bond Trust has attracted £35 million in external assets so far. This confirm a growing trend as investors increasingly recognise the risk to businesses which are relying solely on unsustainable energy, or which may become subject to legislation or tax on emissions and wastage.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Doing good can pay off

Here's a piece that caught my eye at CSR wire, and this quote in particular made me wonder about the relationship between corporate responsibility and profit. "...Business Ethics magazine reports that companies on the S&P 500 stock index who make their annual 100 best corporate citizens list have higher sales and profits than those who don't". I should look into this before I make any assumptions, but I just wonder whether this is because more successful and profitable companies can afford corporate responsiblity programmes? They may not be profitable simply because they are 'good' corporate citizens.

Monday, January 29, 2007

In the Retail Bulletin, Helen Dickenson questions the motives of the major supermarkets in their quest to become greener.

Monday, January 22, 2007

BusinessWeek "beyond the green corporation"

This is a great article in BusinessWeek. One thing caught my eye in particular, a company that calculates the value of reputation damage. Going to have a closer look at this. "Few Wall Street analysts, for example, have tried to assess how much damage Wal-Mart's reputation for poor labor and environmental practices did to the stock price. But New York's Communications Consulting Worldwide (CCW), which studies issues such as reputation, puts it in stark dollars and cents. CCW calculates that if Wal-Mart had a reputation like that of rival Target Corp. (TGT ), its stock would be worth 8.4% more, adding $16 billion in market capitalization".

World's 100 most sustainable corporations

BusinessWeek has prepared a list of the world's 100 most sustainable corporations, to be presented at the Jan. 24-28, 2007 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

New study shows business has regained trust

A new study featured in the Financial Times suggests business is regaining public trust. However the study's publisher, Edelman PR, says that American brands have a problem in Europe. Presuming this means brands founded in America, but I thought some US brands have suffered negative associations for many years. I believe that Simon Anholt, author and expert on public diplomacy, considers that it is America that has the image problem, rather than US brands. Simon's Nation Brands Index publishes quarterly reports on nations public image.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Tesco unveils new environmental plans

Tesco announces latest plan to reduce the company's indirect environmental impact, reports the BBC.

Monday, January 15, 2007

M&S carbon neutral by 2012

Various newspapers, including The Independent, report on M&S's announcement that they will become carbon neutral by 2012. And one of The Guardian's blogs comments too.