With the holidays arriving soon, shoppers are out in mass this winter season. And increasingly, consumers are choosing more sustainable options with their purchases. According to research by New York University’s Stern Business School, in the last five years, sales of products marketed as sustainable grew almost 6 times faster than those that were not.
On Sunday in Wicker Park, the scene at Bide Market was no different. Hundreds of local shoppers made their way to EXCHANGE312 for the second-ever market focused on delivering a “fully sustainable, plastic-free, vegan, and cruelty-free shopping experience.” With a focus on a more ethical approach to their offerings, brands like Causegear, Flowers for Dreams, and Food by Fare, were able to connect directly with eager consumers wanting to learn more about their businesses practices and purchase sustainable goods from their shops. Several of the businesses in attendance are Chicago-owned and headquartered in the city as well. The event provided a central gathering point in the city on Sunday for passionate sustainable shoppers.
The reality is that many customers who can are starting to push back against brands that are cutting corners when it comes to sustainability. More are supporting ethical business owners. “The exciting part is that our little corner of the market, sustainable products and services, is growing like crazy,” Hero Power CEO Ty Benefiel, who was one of several speakers at the market providing insights on industry, told the gathered audience. “And I know it’s not easy. I know the sacrifices you’re making as entrepreneurs and as business people. I know that you’ve made it harder on yourselves so that it will be easier for others to make better choices.”
The growing number of consumers voting with their dollars for ethical brands is starting to pay off for business owners as well. As the industry has undergone rapid growth over the course of the last five years, it has translated into nearly $114 billion in sales – an almost 30% jump in the same timeframe.
Awareness is improving too. The Conscious Guide Chicago outlines a number of local restaurants and shops that have committed to better business practices and provides consumers a quick way to make a smart decision when choosing who to support with their money. Business owners around the city are placing sustainable stickers on coffee tables and storefront windows to signal to would-be shoppers that they are doing their part to support a better Chicago.
There is still much work to be done when it comes to reducing unnecessary waste in our consumption habits. Affordability and access to sustainable choices is needed for all Chicagoans. Both the private and public sector will be responsible for taking fast and bold action to make products and services available and economical to city residents and beyond. The easiest and cheapest option shouldn’t deliver a cost to the environment.
At Hero Power, we continue to be inspired by the number of city residents focused on creating a better future for Chicago. Meeting more and more eco-conscious consumers at Bide Market, we are excited to be a part of a growing contingent that wants to fight for a better planet.