Australians may be lacking when it comes to their own sustainable practices, but most hold brands to a much higher standard. 

Just as the public expects world leaders to take action to preserve the planet, so too are brands expected to act sustainably, according to a new report by, InSites Consulting.

“As world leaders are urged to take decisive action at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow and Australia’s net zero ambitions are unveiled, consumers are looking to brands to take action and drive genuine change,” managing partner at the company, Erica van Lieven said. 

Ms van Lieven called Australia’s double standards of labelling sustainability a key concern while very rarely acting upon it, the “sustainability paradox.”

Some of the barriers to consumers doing more include perceived compromises in affordability, accessibility, performance and convenience.

This doesn’t stop some consumers from voting with their wallets however, with one in four reporting having participated in boycotting a brand because they deemed it “not sustainable.”

One of the reasons this hasn’t translated into even more direct consumer action could be a sense of “eco-confusion” stemming from inconsistency in classifying or rating brands’ efforts.

Over eight in 10 Australian respondents were completely stumped when asked to name the most sustainable brand they knew, indicating the opportunity fro better communications efforts from brands. 

In addition, the pandemic has sharpened Aussie’s focus on sustainability, with two thirds saying they felt climate change was as important as the COVID-19 crisis, and many people reporting that lockdowns had made them revalue nature and the importance of clean air. 

“Sustainability is not a problem that governments alone can solve; businesses and communities also have to pull their weight,” InSites Consulting co-founder, Joeri Van den Bergh said.

“It is a shared responsibility that needs to be addressed today. Brands need to take up their societal role and take consumers along their journey through active and transparent communication. The time for brands to act is now, because in the end, good business is good business.”

The company has identified the key barriers to sustainability amongst Australian consumers in its new Conscious Consumption bookzine.

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