Guilt is a powerful emotion, and a very effective driver of behaviour. And the big corporations are well aware of this. Because the majority of people want to make ethical choices and help contribute towards protecting the environment. And in theory, this is no bad thing.
However, it becomes a problem when those in power start playing on people’s sense of guilt, in order to manipulate public behaviour and deflect attention away from the environmental failings and hypocrisy of the big corporations, some of whom are among the world’s biggest polluters.
For example, we see countless headlines espousing the benefits of recycling. We’re told to consume less and in many cases, pay more for the moral privilege of doing so. And whilst it might make people feel good to know that they’re actively trying to ‘do their bit’, in the grand scheme of things, it’s as useless as trying to collect water in a sieve.
Because the unfortunate reality is that many ‘recyclables’ are branded with misleading labelling about just how recyclable the product is and are frequently sent to landfill and other overloaded waste streams. The transition from single-use plastic straws to more ‘environmentally friendly’ cardboard ones actually produces (almost three times) more carbon emissions during the manufacturing process.
So many of these actions that the public are ‘guilt-tripped’ into, however well-intentioned, actually do little in the way of making any kind of significant difference, and in some cases can even cause more harm than good.
In other words, the concept of conscious consumerism is a lie, designed to distract the public from the big corporations’ refusal to take responsibility for their environmental negligence.
Measurable Action Over Environmental Posturing
This is partly what inspired me to buy a retreading company, because it’s one of the few industries that’s genuinely sustainable. And unlike many ‘green’ initiatives that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, I knew that this was a way to make a real difference.
For example, Vaculug is already beyond net zero if you count avoided emissions (which aren’t taken into consideration by the UN calculation). In fact, every single tyre that we tread in our factory saves 76 litres of oil. Times that by 250,000 tyre casings, and that’s millions of litres of oil and CO2 emissions saved by just one factory alone.
We renew and reuse everything (within reason) so that very little goes to waste. In 2019 alone, we recycled 5,200 tonnes of waste tyres, which achieved an overall emissions saving of 13,152 tonnes compared with using virgin materials. We’ve also taken action to reduce our energy usage by over 20%, which cuts carbon emissions by 950 tonnes per annum, whilst also recycling 100% of our non tyre-related waste.
So, it shows that sustainable business models are more than possible. However, the key is to have a product that is equal to or better than the product you’re trying to replace. Our retreads last longer than new tyres. And secondly, they’re cheaper. This is a critical factor because most sustainable products come with a higher price tag, which is ridiculous. People shouldn’t be financially penalised for making ethical choices — when an old product is being reused, those savings should be passed on to the consumer.
Sustainability Shouldn’t Cost the Consumer
That’s what sets us apart from the hypocritical big corporations — we approach our clients with a sustainable pitch, and guarantee in contract that we’ll reduce their tyre usage, and just as importantly, help them manage the product. This in turn, reduces their overall spend with us.
So, by providing the right product and the right service, and helping to educate the consumer on how to be more sustainable, we have actually increased our turnover, which proves sustainability is possible, at no extra cost to the manufacturer or consumer.
Transitioning to truly sustainable business models that benefit both the environment and the consumer is what the big corporations should be putting their time and energy into, rather than guilt-tripping the public into paying over the odds for ‘green’ gimmicks that are unlikely to make even the slightest bit of difference.