The Sustainable Consumer: World Consumer Rights Day 2020

Thirty-seven years ago, US President John F. Kennedy inspired the setting of a date for consumer groups to raise consumer awareness and demand the respect and protection of consumer rights. The World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is therefore observed every March 15.

Rights Day (WCRD) is therefore observed every March 15.  
FeedbackHall, a consumer feedback service company in Nigeria, joins consumer groups across the globe in celebrating the 2020 World Consumer Rights Day. The theme for this year’s celebration, “The Sustainable Consumer” is unique and globally significant. Sustainable consumption is important now that there is limited time to make changes that will address the issues of climate change and biodiversity loss. Studies conducted by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, found that global warming is increasing at between 0.1oC and 0.3oC per decade and may reach 1.5oC in 2030. At 1.5oC, the risks for natural and human systems such as hot extremes, drought, loss of some ecosystems and precipitation deficits will be higher than it is now and will get worse if global warming exceeds 1.5oC. This means that there is just one decade left to address the issues of climate change and ensure that global warming gradually stabilises at 1.5oC.

The theme for this year’s World Consumer Rights Day is unique because it exposes the fact that, beyond rights, consumers have an important responsibility – to consume sustainably.  Sustainable consumption requires consumers to demand for and patronise products and services that preserve the environment. It also requires them to use these products in ways that minimize their impact on the environment. Such ways include limiting waste (doing more with less); limiting pollution, reusing what is reusable, setting aside what is recyclable for recycling and disposing the waste responsibly.  Sustainable consumption is important to ensure that resources are available not only for the present generation but also for future generations. 

For consumers to consume sustainably, companies and the organisations that regulate them have important roles to play. Since consumers cannot produce most of what they use by themselves, companies need to change their production models to offer products and services that are truly sustainable so that consumers can have sustainable options. In addition, companies need to stop producing greenwashed products. Some companies claim that their products are organic or natural when they are not organic or natural. Some companies claim that their raw materials and production processes are environmentally friendly when they are not. Businesses use these unethical practices to deceive responsible consumers into believing that their products are environmentally friendly and win their patronage.  According to a report by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, 98% of green-labelled products are actually greenwashed.

This calls for more careful regulation of manufacturers and service providers.  Regulators need to ensure that, not just final products, but also the production processes are sustainable. They need to ensure that clams made by companies regarding the degrees of the sustainability of the products and services they offer are correct. Regulation of manufacturing industry and products imported into our country is an important function that needs to be reinforced in Nigeria. Given our level of development and geographic location, our vulnerability to climate change risks are high. Therefore, prevention is not only better but also more feasible than cure. Consumers, businesses, industry associations, NGOs and government organisations need to sincerely join the world in preventing climate change risks by formulating and implementing environmentally friendly policies at national, industry, company and individual levels.

FeedbackHall will continue to provide consumer intelligence required to formulate and implement important strategies and policies for the benefit of everyone. The firm connects consumers and companies to provide and receive constructive feedback as well as provides reliable information through research. This year, FeedbackHall will provide support for people and organisations who are genuinely interested in promoting sustainable production and consumption with a comprehensive, nation-wide consumer research on sustainable consumption – consumer experiences; satisfaction with current products and unmet needs; preferences; readiness, willingness to pay; and more.