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3 ways brands are empowering eco-conscious consumption

Brands are encouraging eco-conscious consumption in ways that seamlessly integrate into consumer lifestyles

The question of what it takes to promote eco-conscious eating habits and lifestyles is a heavy but important one, given how much the food and beverage industry impacts the environment when it comes to waste and pollution. We’ve identified three ways in which brands are broaching the subject of eco-conscious consumption—and those include a magnified focus on generational habits, day-to-day rituals and industry collaborations.

Generational

Some of the most important initiatives when it comes to the promotion of eco-consciousness is instilling nutritionally and environmentally healthy habits in children. Whereas most adults must unlearn the poor habits they’re accustomed to, it’s much easier to promote good habits in those still developing and establishing daily rituals. We see this impact in our Conscious Cafeteria insight, in which programs not only provide nutritional food for children, but items that are also locally sourced, and are thus able to develop eating habits where children consciously choose the most nutritious and best-sourced options.

Cafeteria lunches aren’t typically synonymous with healthy eating, which is why brands like the Real Lunch Food Club are emerging to offer affordable alternatives that are appetizing to elementary school children. The Real Lunch Food Club by the Toronto-based catering company Real Food for Real Kids is bringing daily meals to 12 schools across the city. With a brand ethos rooted in education and accessibility, the company has laid out an effective and health-focused meal plan that appeals to elementary school-aged children. In addition to educating the community on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, the Real Food Lunch Club instills positive eating habits in young children that could have a lifelong impact.

On a related note, a farm-to-table food truck called Uproot is helping teenagers understand the benefits of healthy eating. Featuring what the executive director of the company describes as a “cool factor,” this stylish truck serves lunches in high school parking lots that are both mouth-watering and locally sourced. In addition to making healthy eating more accessible, the Uproot food truck aims to combat the 75 per cent of students who leave the school grounds to seek better lunch options.

Lifestyle

For those of us who have long-established habits that often have harmful environmental impacts, some brands are choosing to empower consumers to be more eco-conscious in a way that seamlessly integrates with their lifestyles and daily rituals. We can observe this in the rise of zero-waste grocers, where the traditional grocery store is transformed in a way that minimizes food and plastic waste. The adoption of this new grocery store model doesn’t have a major impact on consumers’ day-to-day rituals—it’s as simple as going to a new location to purchase food rather than visiting a larger retailer—but is crucial in the process of setting a new precedent for how we consume ethically and ecologically.

The elimination of cost-free plastic bags from major grocery stores simply isn’t enough to reverse the environmental damage caused by waste in the food industry, which is why small businesses are rethinking the grocery store model to offer the conscious consumer a more accessible and environmentally friendly shopping experience. Zero waste grocery stores make it easy for consumers to make these decisions, and stores like Méga Vrac in Montreal enable shoppers to bring their own containers in an effort to reduce plastic waste. The store, which is the first of its kind in Canada, houses over 700 items that range from fresh produce to herbs and spices. Both environmentally friendly and accessible to all shoppers, Montreal’s ‘Méga Vrac’ represents the more creative ways smaller retailers are responding to the backlash against excess packaging.

Meanwhile, Denmark’s Wefood is combating this issue by introducing the world’s first food waste supermarket, which sells expired products at a discounted price. In Denmark, expired food can be sold legally, as long as there is no immediate danger in consuming it. This empowers shoppers to help reduce the estimated 700,000 metric tons of food thrown out each day in Denmark.

Cross-Industry Branding

Sometimes a visceral representation of the damage that can be done with unethical consumption habits is necessary, and industries related to art, food and eco-consciousness are collaborating in order to best represent such imagery. It’s not always enough to aim to educate and raise awareness—and in our Polluted Artwork insight we’ve observed just that. The effects of environmental harm and climate change can be relatively abstract, not immediately observable and difficult to absorb for most consumers. To counter this inevitable nearsightedness, the use of visceral imagery, products and services is crucial to evoking feeling rather than logic alone when it comes to raising awareness about such issues.

Using art as a medium to inspire change, students Hong Yi-chen, Guo Yi-hui and Cheng Yu-ti from the National Taiwan University of Arts created a powerful visual to demonstrate the need for clean waterways. Using samples collected from 100 different locations, the students transformed sewage runoff into deceptive popsicles that were put on display at a design event in Taipei. Each popsicle was unique in colour and filled with trash commonly found polluting waterways—90 per cent of the trash collected in the samples were plastic-based, further highlighting the project’s anti-pollution message.

The pleasing aesthetic of food is leveraged again to demonstrate the adverse effects of climate change at a concept bakery dubbed Coal Comforts. The bakery served up an array of inedible treats which all featured the same unappetizing grey colourway. This hue was the result of the treats containing one core ingredient—coal. With a simple cupcake, the creators behind this project effectively created a powerful visual representation to warn consumers of the dangerous impact that the mining and burning of coal has on the environment.

This article is informed by Trend Hunter content and research. For more in-depth insights into the foodservice industry and environmentally friendly consumption, visit the trendhunter.com or join TH in one of the 11 cities their Future Festival conference will be visiting in 2019.



Lead Photo Credit: Hong, Yi-chen

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