Prinsloo was speaking at the Fairtrade Business Brunch in Cape Town, one of the key events of this year’s national Fairtrade Week.
She discussed in detail the findings of the first comprehensive research on sustainable consumerism conducted in South Africa. The findings showed that respondents who indicated that they have heard about sustainability associated it primarily with reusable resources and environmental conservation. “Only about half of the respondents link sustainability with social and economic welfare,” said Prinsloo.
The study also revealed that only 25% of South Africans knew about the existence of sustainable products and only 18% would go out their way to find these products.
Almost 80% of respondents were not even aware of the existence of sustainability labels like Fairtrade.
“Since people don’t really understand what sustainability means, they do not know how to respond to the need for it,” said Prinsloo.
“We define sustainability as the potential for maintaining the wellbeing of the planet and its people in the future.”
“The bottom line is that for the average South African product choices are not driven by sustainability but rather by price and value for money.”
The study did however show that 70% of South Africans felt a sense of social responsibility and were willing to try new sustainable products.
*We asked our Facbook fans what is their definition of sustainability. Read the comments below.