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Big companies can change the world, if only they would!

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We were sitting with one of our partners the other day. It was pleasant out, the beer was cold and Spring was in the air.

With tough times ahead (and in the past) we started talking about some of our clients. Big corporate brands. Established. Publicly listed. Thousands of employees.

And got to wondering, what if they could use their massive purchasing power to do make a real positive difference?

Now we’re not talking about them changing their businesses (although that could be nice); it’s really about how the scale of their purchasing decisions can shift markets.

A great example of this power is Walmart. Walmart has driven significant changes in packaging through their Walmart Scorecard which measures the environmental impact of a suppliers, and their own label, packaging. And because of their scale these initiatives have driven significant impacts in reducing waste, transportation volumes and even wastage.

Walmart is able to drive significant change because it is so bloody big. P&G and Unilever and Mars and Nestle and Quaker will listen. And do!

While the anti-plastic consumer movement is having a massive contribution, this drive to reducing waste has lead to major FMCG brands coming together to start Loop.

Loop is a circular shopping platform that transforms the packaging of your everyday essentials from single-use disposable to durable, feature-packed designs. Founding partners include Proctor & Gamble and Unilever.

So what could big South African businesses (and Government) do to make a real sustainable difference (without sacrificing anything)?

How about only buying environmentally friendly cleaning products which utilise local ingredients from a local company. Why spend all your hard earned cash buying unsustainable products from a multi-national? All that happens is a chunk of money earned locally is repatriated overseas (while the chemicals undermine our health).

Just imagine if Standard Bank or FNB or Nedbank had to clean their branches and offices with locally produced environmentally friendly products utilising local ingredients? How would that change the economics and profitability of a few of these small South African companies making great, superior, environmentally friendly cleaning products. Imagine what that would do to the effluent treatment plants, our badly degraded river system and even the air quality of the places where we work?

The point is that through their purchasing power, major companies have the power to make a significant contribution to the environment and innovative small business.

It is time they did.

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