Tackling climate change with a behavioral nudge at checkout.

This guest post was written by Oliver Ranck, a co-founder of Future Neutral.

We rounded the corner and stopped suddenly – stunned. The ice glistened in the sun among towering granite peaks ending in a lake of emerald water. We had made it. But the view came bittersweet.

95% of glaciers across Peru have receded (UN 2018).

Oliver's realisation.

My wife and I had the absurd privilege and sheer good luck to travel for nine months on an extended honeymoon last year. Everywhere we went, across four continents, the effects of climate change were apparent. Yet locally these changes have come so slowly that we have become a living experiment of the boiling frog parable.

Isaac Asimov springs to mind:

“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

Future Neutral was born.

Travelling lets you see these effects that are actually right in front of us. On my return, my brother and I knew we needed to get involved in climate action – and so Future Neutral was born.

The idea was simple – what if we could make every retail transaction contribute to climate action? Richer countries buy more, so contribute more, everyone’s fair share evenly distributed. Retailers are the channel and customers pay the price for their annual carbon footprint with ease through their purchases. A win-win-win.

Traditionally retailers have had to balance, profit, margins and shareholder value with sustainability, often with the latter taking a backseat. The market conditions COVID has brought, have put further strain on retailers around the world. And yet, customers are demanding change and are more concerned than ever about the environment, sustainability and climate change.

"Richer countries buy more, so contribute more, everyone’s fair share evenly distributed. Retailers are the channel and customers pay the price for their annual carbon footprint with ease through their purchases. A win-win-win."

Unzipped

It's no secret - this is our global problem to solve!

A recent PEW Research report found that climate concern has steadily increased, despite COVID-19. This aligns with earlier research from Nielson that showed 81% of customers feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment.

How can retailers reconcile this demand from customers, whilst being cash strapped to take on sustainability initiatives?

There are many solutions and each form small parts of a larger picture, and when taken together have a big impact. For example, retailers can put pressure on their supply chains, switch to renewable energy and redesign packaging. Similar to what airlines have been offering for years, Future Neutral has created a lightweight integration for retailers to allow customers to add carbon offset at checkout. The integration combines with business as usual and costs nothing – the customer opts in to pay.

This is the Future Neutral solution ...

We all suffer from a form of personal apathetic agreement where we know climate change is a big problem but getting involved beyond a Keepcup and recycling seems complex and hard. We have found that when customers are given a choice to act, they will do so, with conversion rates at checkout up to 21%.

Funds are then distributed to select carbon offset projects. Good quality offset is a topic fiercely debated, as they are not a commodity but represent a broad range of carbon sequestration and storage. Future Neutral uses accredited United Nations suppliers, and locally, Greenfleet (an Australian not-for-profit that has been operating for over 20 years on forest and biodiversity restoration).

Offsets on their own are not the answer but are part of a broad solution that requires changes across all industries, customers and government. We know there are no silver bullets, but every step in the right direction is a step worth taking. Retailers can now bolster their sustainability journey further, simply and easily.

To learn more about Future Neutral features click here.

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