Why has responsible investment yet to equal the level of other forms of responsible consumption behaviour?

Why has responsible investment yet to equal the level of other forms of responsible consumption behaviour?

In societies across the world, responsible consumption is gradually becoming a lifestyle norm for the majority of people.

What is responsible consumption exactly?

For citizen-consumers, responsible consumption refers to: (i) purchasing habits respecting green, organic, fair trade, local and secondhand goods; (ii) non-purchasing habits such as deconsumption, voluntary simplicity, resistance, boycotting and DIY; as well as, (iii) post-purchasing, swapping, renting, sharing, donating, reusing, recycling and composting.

Contrary to what one might think, these forms of consumption are not to be overlooked. In the United Kingdom, for example, mean annual purchases of responsible goods by individual households increased 3.4 times in 10 years, rising from £291 to £989 (about $1748)1. In France, figures from studies conducted by Ethicity2 since 2004 and Mes courses pour la planète3 since 2010 point to a consistently innovative, rapidly growing market. In Canada, responsible consumption now extends to the majority of individuals, the Responsible Consumption Index having advanced by 3.1 points between 2012 and 2013 in Québec4. At the time of the study conducted in Ontario in 2012, the Responsible Consumption Index was found to largely exceed that of the province of Québec: score of 68.9 out of 1005. Recycling, deconsumption as well as local and environmental consumption are now part and parcel of day-to-day consumer behaviour in Canada.

Why then does responsible investment continue to impact only a small segment of Canadians?

Our February 2014 study 6 found that 5.9% of Québecers had invested in responsible consumption products in the last year (level indicated by respondents). Clearly, this percentage is a far cry from the declared levels of use and purchase of other eco-responsible goods and services!7

That said, this same study pointed up that the second most powerful lever for change, one that ultimately led to action on the responsible investment front, was coherence with other responsible consumption choices. Indeed, Québecers clearly indicated a willingness to become as responsibly minded with their finances as they were in other areas of their day-to-day existence: e.g. I want to be coherent with my other consumption-based choices (40.8%); RI allows me to lend meaning to my savings (31.7%); I want to use my savings to impact corporate ethical behaviour (30.6%). So, why wait any longer? The time for action is NOW! Ethiquette is there to help. Find out how to take action now!

1The Co-operative Bank, 2013

2The French and Responsible Consumption, 2014

3Responsible consumption figures, 2014

42013 Barometer of Responsible Consumption in Québec –BCR 2013-, RCO

5Ontario Responsible Consumption Index 2012, RCO

6Québecers and Socially Responsible Investment: Portrait for 2014

7cf. Top 20 ranking of most purchased eco-responsible products, BCR 2013

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