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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The areas of action for what your business can do falls into three categories:
1. What you do:
Some digital solutions include:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
In the actions you take towards telling patients about your efforts, beware of Greenwashing
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
Patient and consumer concerns about sustainability are here to stay. Think about what your business can do right now to avoid being left behind.
1National Geographic: Plunge in carbon emissions from lockdowns will not slow climate change
2 BCG The Pandemic Is Heightening Environmental Awareness
3Better Business: Sustainable-Hospitals-Healthcare
4Forbes: A Touchless World: QR Codes And Their Growth In North America
5 Forest Stewardship Council