This article originally appeared on Stuff.co.nz on the 13 February, 2019.
Many of us are rather weak-hearted when it comes to telling businesses what we want in return for our dollar.
The idea of exerting our consumer power frightens many of us.
Colmar Brunton’s Better Futures report, published this week, reveals Kiwi consumers’ desire to lead sustainable lives.
One section of it revealed some of our rather timid attitudes.
We’ve fought the battle on single-use plastic bags at the supermarket, and next up is single-serve containers from takeaways and cafes, where many buy their lunches each day to take back to their offices.
Just one in a hundred survey respondents told Colmar Brunton they took their own BYO container when heading off to buy lunch.
What would stop others from doing the same?
Part of the answer was that people worried about how they might be judged, despite it being such an innocuous thing to do.
All up, 41 per cent of the 1000 people Colmar Brunton surveyed said they would worry about being seen as a nuisance.
And 34 per cent would be nervous about asking the staff.
Then there were 27 per cent of respondents who worried they might look “odd” when carrying their BYO container around.
Finally, 27 per cent were so concerned about what staff might think of them, that they worried taking their own container might be misinterpreted as a “greedy” bid to get a bigger serving.
These are not attitudes that consumers can take into their dealings with a business while expecting to get what they want.
Who cares if cafe staff think you are a bit odd when you hand over your lunch-box?
These timid reasons for not speaking up tells us something else, though.
We should applaud the trailblazers going into cafes with lunch-boxes in hand.
The Better Futures report shows that Kiwis understand they need to consume less plastic and carbon. In the short-term, many of the behaviours which achieve that can also reduce their expenses and make them wealthier.
Among the biggest ways that can reduce your personal carbon footprint, and expenses, are: eating less meat, ditching the car, and moving more of your life into the “sharing economy”, by hiring instead of owning.
Buying less new stuff, shopping for second-hand goods, and repairing rather than replacing are all things Kiwis are keen to have more of in their lives, Colmar Brunton found.
So speak up, and do not fear to be judged.
* Speak up. Don’t be timid
* Consumer less, save more
* Cars consume wealth, as well as petrol