The Climate Movement is Here to Stay

The Climate Movement is Here to Stay—Don’t Get Left Behind

Over the past few decades, the topic of climate change and global warming has steadily risen to the top of headlines all over the world. While it may seem the strongest advocates for action against climate change have been the younger generations, 2020 proved to be an extreme turning point, moving the environmentally conscious needle for people of all ages.

Covid-19 and global stay-at-home orders have forced everyone to take a pause from their daily routines. As we were forced to stay inside, there were reports of dramatic air quality improvements and the lowest levels of CO2 emissions worldwide1 allowing many individuals to see the direct impact of their personal actions on the environment. This wake-up call caused many to reassess their contribution to the dire climate crisis our world is experiencing.  

As we continue through 2021, Covid-19 advisories and restrictions will change as we open up. However, one thing holds true: there’s heightened awareness about sustainability and how personal actions impact the environment.

  • 70% of people around the world are more aware now than before Covid-19 that human activity threatens the climate and the environment2


Additionally, prior to the pandemic a large number of people already factored sustainability into what they bought, what brands they engaged with, and most of all, their happiness prior to the pandemic as well.

  • 81% of people factored sustainability into their buying decisions, over 80% of people respect companies and brands that adopt eco-friendly practices and 60% of people gravitated towards businesses committed to reducing plastics and improving the environment
  • Over 65% of Gen Z, Millennials and 50% Gen Xers were willing to pay more for sustainable products, preferring sustainable brands over others
  • Consumers of all ages feel happy when purchasing sustainable products and people like to do what makes them happy

Now, consumers have a renewed motivation and commitment to being more environmentally conscious. It’s also opened the conversation to deeper issues of sustainability that touches on responsibly using all resources including financial, environmental, and people power.  

Sustainability is continuing to rise to the top of concerns for many and more so becoming a part of their identity as a result of the pandemic.

25% of people say they’ve been practicing more sustainable behaviors since the crisis started2
40% of people intend to integrate more sustainable behaviors in the future2  

Going Green in Pharma

With the pandemic accelerating the upwards trajectory of individual responsibility, most people also feel businesses need to respond to the call for sustainable action as well.

  • In a recent survey, 87% of people thought private companies should integrate environmental considerations2 into their products, services, and the way they operate.

Expectedly, businesses are quickly responding with changes to business practices, production chains, and integrating new messaging across all industries. Businesses that actively engage in more conscious practices have an increase in brand loyalty and engagement overall.

When it comes to pharma and healthcare, there’s no exception.

  • 94% of people express a better patient experience in hospitals with focus on sustainability3

How To Improve Your Sustainability Impact In Pharma

The areas of action for what your business can do falls into three categories:

1. What you do

2. What you say

3. What you encourage

1. What you do:

  • Going Digital: With the pandemic making most experiences contactless, one of the quickest wins to improving their sustainability impact is by going digital. However, going digital should not be a blanket solution to sustainability, but rather purposeful and focused on patient capabilities and preferences.
  • Prior to going digital, research your patient population to assess their tech literacy level and access to digital resources to see if this shift from tangible material forms to digital makes sense for their experience. It’s important to take into consideration the literacy and learning needs of your audience as well. Certain conditions may impact a person’s cognitive and physical abilities and whether or not receiving resources digitally is the right approach.

Some digital solutions include:

  • QR Codes:
    • What: Since the pandemic, the use of QR codes has increased by 11%4 in the United States and have now become an expectation for quick, contactless engagement. QR codes are an easy way to drive to a website, access a copay card or subscribe to brand news and beyond.
    • Why: Making a QR code saves the effort of making multiple of the same resources.  Additionally, QR codes not only let you know how many scans were taken but also from where, providing granular data that can help optimize your materials to be more efficient. They can also be personalized and tracked to a patient or HCP.
  • Artificial Intelligence
    • What: Patients often have questions at different stages of their experience and may need dedicated support. AI Chatbots can be the solution to answering frequently asked questions and giving patients the support they need, anytime they need it.
    • Why: Integrating AI Chatbots touches on a different level of sustainability—people power. They help triage common questions so dedicated support like Nurse Ambassadors or Care Coordinators can better utilize their limited time and help people with more unique needs.   

Sustainable alternatives: Although digital is often seen as the only sustainable alternative, depending on what your patient population needs, tangible forms of resources and information simply cannot be replaced. However, not all paper or ink is created equal and there are alternatives you can use to produce your materials that are more sustainable than others.

  • FSC Certified paper and Soy/Vegetable Ink:

What: FSC (Forest Stewardship Council5) Certified paper is created with a focus on sustainability at every point of the custody chain and supports a wider initiative of sustainability. Unlike Petroleum-based inks, soy and vegetable-based ink don’t contain toxins that are environmentally hazardous and are just as vibrant.

  • Why: Making these alternatives means doing your part to make sure patients get what they need in a way that’s best for them and still doing your part for sustainability in a way that may be less conventional. Overall, a win-win.

What Does Forest Stewardship Council Do?

Optimizing packaging: From packaging to shipping, direct mail often uses a lot of resources in the process. After a year of limited contact and increased online orders, people are taking notice of the way their orders are being packaged. Making sure that each part of your package is appropriate and serves a purpose is key. Think about:

  • Could the packaging materials being used be more sustainable?
  • Are there any pieces that can be shipped together?
  • Are there any parts of the package that can be removed that won’t affect the experience?

2. What you say

Since the issue of sustainability has been on the rise over the past decade, chances are your business may already be taking actions towards being more sustainable. In fact, most pharma companies have some pledge to sustainability, but most patients, HCPs, and caregivers don’t know about it. Without adequate promotion, this lack of awareness might in turn impact purpose-driven engagement.

A few pharma examples:

By calling out your efforts in patient-facing materials, you can help them understand your efforts and make decisions that better align with their values.

  • Engage with your consumers, what are their concerns when it comes to your sustainability and your business?
  • Always include messaging about your sustainability efforts on the materials you use like how CoverGirl makes known their use of FSC-Certified paper (and explains what it is)
  • Make it easy to see what’s happening behind the scenes by linking to overarching sustainability commitments and promises that your business may be taking action on

In the actions you take towards telling patients about your efforts, beware of Greenwashing

  • Greenwashing: When companies provide misleading claims about the environmental benefits of their products, services, technologies or efforts. 

While it sounds overt, greenwashing can also occur if a company believes they’re taking good actions towards sustainability but may not be fully aware of their total impact. Today, people may be weary of superficial claims about sustainability and suspicion of greenwashing can result in losing customer loyalty and trust.

3. What you encourage

As much as people have ability to influence businesses, businesses have the ability to influence behavior change by incorporating messages that remind people about their personal responsibilities and empower them to take sustainable actions

  • Messages should have an encouraging tone and provide easy to follow instructions on how to properly and sustainably discard materials

Patient and consumer concerns about sustainability are here to stay. Think about what your business can do right now to avoid being left behind.