Consumers are giving sustainability greater priority in their lives. And the truth is that sustainable practices in any business―including eye care practices―can elevate the business's reputation in the community and the industry.
This article will discuss what sustainable business practices are and how they can help you earn patient loyalty and elevate your own practice's reputation.
What is sustainability?
You may have heard of corporate social responsibility, or CSR, which overlaps with sustainability, and in some instances, the terms are used interchangeably. CSR is how companies or practices like yours integrate social and environmental good in their business operations and patient interactions. And in its commentary on corporate responsibility, the United Nations reminds us that "in simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and our grandchildren, and the world we will leave them.1"
Sustainability is a growing priority for consumers―including your patients
Two separate global surveys in 2020 provide evidence of the trend towards prioritizing sustainability. The first found that 82% of consumers say sustainability is more top of mind now than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.2 In the second survey, more than a quarter of consumers reported that they had increased their green practices since the COVID pandemic began, and nearly 40% said that they intend to continue to increase their sustainable behaviors moving forward.3
Managing plastic figures prominently in consumer plans for how to be more sustainable. Two of the top four behaviors consumers intend to do more often in the future relate to managing plastic waste: increasing or improving recycling and trying to adopt zero waste behaviors.4
And that's where your sustainability efforts come in. Consumers support businesses that share the values that drive their actions: awareness of environmental issues and a sense of civic responsibility.5-7
Sustainability by the Numbers
51% of US consumers say sustainability is important to them when making a purchase5
1 in 4 consumers would go out of their way to buy sustainable products and are willing to pay more for them5,7
45% of consumers would stop supporting companies who fall short of their personal sustainability values7
More than 1/3 of consumers would vocally oppose a company they do not view as sustainable7
Trailblazing practices are embracing sustainability
Consumers prioritize living sustainably but still want it to be accessible, easy, and affordable.8 Their actions are establishing emotional connections, reaching new customers, and protecting and strengthening their brand reputations. Practices on the leading edge engage consumers and strengthen relationships by demonstrating sustainability.
Three practices have successfully differentiated themselves by authentically embracing sustainability. Each has distinct approaches to reaching their patients, yet all have benefitted.
Examples of some of the programs these eye care professionals have implemented:
- Placing visual recycling cues around the office and proactively recycling many materials
- Using renewable energy sources
- Partnering with Terracycle to recycle face masks
- Reducing employee carbon emissions/footprints by allowing those with the longest commutes to support the office from home
- Emphasizing the benefits of 1-day contact lenses that use fewer solution bottles
There are opportunities for optometry practices to differentiate themselves by implementing sustainability approaches like these in their offices – and choosing to prescribe products from companies that do the same.
CooperVision is committed to sustainability9
Through a partnership with PlasticBank, CooperVision is taking steps to reduce the impact of plastic waste10*†‡ and help eye care practices become more sustainable businesses. Visit the ECP Viewpoints Online Success Center to view webinars and interactive lessons on this program and more in the Sustainability in Eye Care category. Encourage members of your staff to complete those lessons as well so that they too can reinforce the sustainability conversation in your practice. Register today!
Let's do one day better.
* Plastic Bank uses 1 kg of plastic to equal 50 bottles.
† Net plastic neutrality is established by purchasing credits from Plastic Bank. A credit represents the collection and conversion of one kilogram of plastic that may reach or be destined for waterway. CooperVision purchases credits equal to the weight of plastic in participating brand orders in a specified time period. Plastic in participating brand plastic is determined by the weight of plastic in the blister, the lens, and the secondary package, including laminates, adhesives, and auxiliary inputs (e.g. ink).
‡ Participating brand orders is defined as orders and includes sphere, 1 day toric, and multifocal product sold & distributed by CooperVision.
UCLA Sustainability. What is sustainability? Accessed April 21, 2022. https://www.sustain.ucla.edu/what-is-sustainability/
McNamee K, Fernandez J. 3 surprising ways people prioritize sustainability in the wake of the pandemic. Think with Google. October 2021. Accessed April 21, 2022. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-trends/consumer-sustainability-trends
PwC Global. Rapidly changing behaviours in 2020 are accelerating consumer embrace of digital, health, and sustainability trends, says PwC. News release. July 8, 2020. Accessed April 21, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rapidly-changing-behaviours-in-2020-are-accelerating-consumer-embrace-of-digital-health-and-sustainability-trends-says-pwc-301089542.html
Kachaner N, Nielsen J, Portafaix A, Rodzko F. The pandemic is heightening environmental awareness. BCG. July 14, 2020. Accessed April 24, 2022. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/pandemic-is-heightening-environmental-awareness
CGS 2020 Retail and Fashion Sustainability Survey. July 14, 2020. Accessed April 24, 2022. https://www.cgsinc.com/en/resources/survey-reveals-sustainability-shopping-preferences
PwC. Global consumer insights survey 2020: the consumer transformed. Published July 8, 2020. Accessed April 24, 2022. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/consumer-markets/consumer-insights-survey/2020/pwc-consumer-insights-survey-2020.pdf
The Recycling Partnership. Transforming for good: Driving U.S. system solutions towards a circular economy. May 2020. Accessed April 24, 2022. https://recyclingpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ImpactReport-May2020-5.18.20.pdf
Globescan. Healthy & sustainable living: a global consumer insights report. Published July 10, 2020. Accessed April 25, 2022. https://3ng5l43rkkzc34ep72kj9as1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/GlobeScan_Healthy_and_Sustainable_Living_Highlights_Report_2020-2.pdf
CVI data on file, 2021, 2020-2020 Plastic Bank Contract Agreement.
CVI data on file, 2022 for a complete list of participating brands by country. Anticipated total bottles as derived through Plastic Bank's impact dashboard during 2022 calendar year.