Transparency Key to Consumer Understanding of Sustainability

Many Australian consumers are seeking transparent, credible information about the sustainability credentials of the products they buy, Mobium's Living LOHAS research shows. The Queensland Government has recently acted on this message with the successful introduction of a bill requiring home sellers to complete a 56 point checklist of their home's environmental credentials - a so-called 'Sustainability Declaration'.

The aim of the checklist is to provide information about sustainability of a property to prospective home-buyers in much the same way that new cars are required to have labels that identify their fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The key question many will ask is, "How does I trust that the checklist is correct?" And rightly so, as more than 80% of Australians are sceptical of health and sustainability claims that are made about the products they buy.

On the other hand, the fact that a sustainability declaration is available will provide real estate agents with a tool to highlight the sustainability attributes of properties, and may provide opportunities for sustainable home assessment businesses to provide a certified version of the checklist that confirms that accuracy of the information contained in the declaration.

Initiatives that highlight the sustainability attributes of products and services as diverse as homes, cars, fridges and washing machines are just the beginning.  As more businesses tune in to the consumer desire for clear, unambiguous information about the sustainability attributes of the things they buy, the opportunities for certifiers of these claims will multiply. In the meantime, the clear message for consumers is, 'buyer beware'.

Andy Baker