How can we, as consumers, persuade manufacturers to make their products more sustainable?

The only things I've come up with (and try to do myself)

  1. Buy the most sustainable version of products. The idea is that if enough people do this, manufacturers will notice a change in demand and adjust their method of production.
  2. Publish information about manufacturers, shops, restaurants etc. that strive to make sustainable products, or that do just the opposite, in the hope that other people will read and act upon that information.
  3. Sign petitions drawn up by organisations like Greenpeace, for example, to protest against the use of non-sustainable materials (e.g. chemicals used to produce cotton for clothing)

Is there any proof that these methods work? Does anyone have a better alternative?

4 Answers 4


An award should be made with a logo. It could be given by a committee to a product and it would entitle the producer to put that logo on that product. In my country (Hungary) there was a similar award in the '80s, named "forum of excellent products". It had a triangle like logo.

forum of excellent products

  • Nice idea. This is how most organic and fair trade labels work, but setting something up like this is not for the average consumer.
    – THelper
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 12:25

Lobbying for legislation is the best way. Barring a few conscious ones, producers are generally interested in money, and with such a huge population and market, they will always find customers who do not care about environment.

However, once a legislation is in place that protects the environment, they have no option than to follow it or get fined (=lose a lot of money). Even the customers who are not concerned about environment benefit in the end.

For example EU's push for right-to-repair will benefit many older crafty tech-savvy folk who are notoriously not concerned about climate change, but will be happy to get their hands on products that can be repaired, just as they remember from the old days.

  • 3
    Another great example is California emissions requirements. Because of the size of that market, all mfgrs selling cars in the U.S. meet that requirement -- it's cheaper than maintaining two different product lines.
    – LShaver
    Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 14:53

Concentrate on a specific issue. For instance:

If the consumer would stop buying water and soft-drinks in plastic bottles then other containers would be developed. Well, beer is available in aluminum bottles with twist on-and-off caps. And beer is available in glass bottles with twist on-and-off caps.

Then other foods would follow away from plastic food containers.

Current juice-boxes are multi-layered cardboard but including polyethylene. The future could be paper containers lined with biodegradable plastic films. Those biodegradable plastic films are expected to be developed about the year 2023 !

A lot of plastic is not recycled because a truckload of plastic bottles is not very valuable due to the air space in the load.

A truckload of crushed glass is a lot of material to recycle but the glass was heavy to ship in the first place.

And compacted aluminum cans makes a good recycling truckload because metal is expensive. The more expensive the food container is then the more valuable it is in recycling.

Plastic from sugar instead of from oil is in the news but considered to be expensive. Here is one newer source:


But the soft-drink makers are featuring recycled plastic and not biodegradable plastic.


Once we will realize that we, as consumers, already pay all the costs of production, and even more when we pay profit, we will organize to buy and own the means of production for the bizarre reason that we simply need the results of that production.

At that point, there will be no more begging and no more groveling and no more reason to ask anyone for we will finally regain control of production and can then ignore the rentiers who have subjugated us for far too long.

  • 1
    Welcome to Sustainable Living! I'm not sure I understand your answer. Why do you think people will "organize to buy and own the means of production"? I don't see a group of people buying and owning a car factory for example.
    – THelper
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 7:48
  • While a car factory seems unrealistic since we buy cars so rarely, consider the products you buy weekly, such as bread, or almost continuously, such as electricity. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 8:15
  • It creates a sort of direct insurance for any good or service you can predict you will need. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 8:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.