Is Gen Z Talking About Hemp and Its Sustainable Products?

Over the past few decades, rapid economic prosperity has resulted in the overconsumption of natural resources. The consumption pattern of humans has depleted the natural resources, impacting the environment and raising serious concerns for global warming, increase in pollution, ozone depletion, impacting flora and fauna, and life-threatening health hazards.

There are serious changes for awakening in the business world regarding the responsibility towards the environment and society. The perception of how businesses are establishments with no other objective but to make a profit is not entirely correct as companies have become sensitive to social and environmental issues.

With growing awareness amongst the consumers, there is a positive shift in consumer behavior for environmentally friendly products. In return for this behavior of the consumers, companies have started to build products and business strategies so as to appeal to increasing awareness of this environment-friendliness.

India Towards Sustainability

India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. It has a plethora of business opportunities which opens up the chance for stakeholders and entrepreneurs to build a responsible, reasonable, and fast-growing market.

India, home to one-sixth of all humanity, holds the key to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 adopted by the United Nations. The Agenda 2030 is a wake-up call to build a community and through collaborative efforts, work towards a healthy and sustainable future for India, its citizens, and cities.

With more than 1 billion consumers, Indian businesses have the opportunity to serve with the most innovative, inclusive, and environmentally accountable business strategies.

The Importance of Sustainable Products in the Indian Market

With economic development, the capacity to spend has increased; with the internet, community connections have increased. These two factors affect consumer behavior in terms of spending, being brand-aware, and the availability of various options, demanding transparency, and value for money.

As they say, with every changing generation there are new experiences gained and new opportunities emerge. As Generation Z and millennials become more aware of the world around them, there is a willingness to always be informed. Gen Z and millennials know how to use the power of the internet. The world is their stage and they would voice out their opinions about right and wrong. 

It is estimated that Gen Z and millennials will form 77% of India’s population by 2030. This in turn means that India’s consumers will be more informed about consumption options than ever before.

A survey conducted by Accenture of 6,000 consumers in 11 countries across North America, Europe, and Asia, found that while consumers remain primarily focused on quality and price, 83% believe it’s important or extremely important for companies to design products that are meant to be reused or recycled. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents said they’re currently buying more environmentally friendly products than they were five years ago, and 81% said they expect to buy more over the next five years.

Factors Affecting the Purchase Behaviours for Sustainable Consumption

Sustainable consumption refers to the decision made by consumers to buy or not to buy a brand, based on the social and environmental criteria to some extent.

Consumer behavior is an evolving process based on personal values, product attributes, the influence of social contexts like peer group,  self-image, and situational factors like availability of alternatives at competitive prices.

Few studies have reported that there might be a discrepancy or “gap” between consumers’ expressed favorable attitudes and actual purchasing practices. Though environmental consciousness in Indian consumers is observed in the literature, their purchase behavior towards green products is not yet clearly understood.

Many consumers show a positive attitude towards purchases of organic food products but only a small number of consumers actually purchase those products. Similarly, consumers might show their concern towards the environment, but rarely translate it into a purchase. It is thus clear that there exists a gap between consumers’ thinking and actions.

It is essential to examine why environmental attitudes have a weaker influence on consumer sustainable purchase behavior. There might be possible factors such as price and availability of the product, and social influences among others that lead to the discrepancy between consumer attitude and purchase behavior.

Product knowledge, satisfaction, motive, and awareness are some more factors that influence the buying behavior of sustainable products. 

One of the most versatile plants, that can provide different sustainable options, is Hemp.

Sustainability and Hemp

Hemp has been used in the past for medicine, building material, paper, rope, textile, food, and many more. The wave of the “War on Drugs” banned cannabis for its chemical compounds associated with a feeling of high, but it also banned the long use of hemp as a raw material as well.

Today people have again started talking about hemp as a more sustainable and environment-friendly raw material for clothing, hempcrete as a building material, seeds and oil as nutritional supplements, its healing effects as a medicine, and a lot more.

Hemp is sustainable because:

  • It returns nutrients back to the ground and has the potential to absorb toxicity of the otherwise contaminated soil through pesticides;
  • It can help ensure sustainable, reliable, and green energy for all while decreasing the dependency on fossil fuels and other polluting resources. Hemp fiber can be used for the production and storage of electricity;
  • It is naturally resistant to pests, diseases, and fungus;
  • It yields 2 to 4 times more than the trees used to make papers. It degrades less, can be recycled more times, and has a superior quality than tree-based paper;
  • It can be used to produce strong, durable, and environmentally-friendly plastic substitutes as biodegradable plastic;
  • As a substituted for timber, it’s a solution to deforestation, it controls erosion of the topsoil, and produces oxygen;
  • It is a carbon-di-oxide-absorbing warrior the world is in need of. One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 22 tonnes of CO2 per hectare.
Hemp Based Products
A table showing the common hemp-based products

Hemp along with other environment-friendly products like bamboo needs to be brought to light for their numerous uses. The use of biodegradable products not only fulfills consumer satisfaction but also fulfills the duty towards the environment.

To spread awareness for sustainable products, concerns for the environment and knowledge of the benefits of natural products for one’s health and environment need to be voiced out.

Social media could be one of the greatest mechanisms in today’s time that could serve the purpose of promotion. People need to be educated about the features of the use of sustainable products as the awareness level on the usage is still limited or not that motivated as it should be.

Pallavi S. Maheshwari
Pallavi S. Maheshwari
Advocate working towards social upliftment and sustainable development. Here to gather knowledge and write.

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