|▲ Zero Waste kit (source: Earthbox official store)|
As awareness of climate change recently increased, the Zero Waste brand and Zero Waste Challenge are increasing as well. Zero-waste means to preserve all resources through responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery, without burning all products, packaging, and materials. This includes, not discharging them to land, oceans, or air that could threaten the health of the environment of human beings. Representative brands that come to mind when thinking of Zero Waste include, ‘Patagonia’ and ‘Freitag.’ Patagonia, recycles plastic to obtain a raw material called polyester, which protects the environment by making products with it. Freitag is a brand that makes bags with waterproof cloth. Products are made by recycling old trucks’ waterproof fabrics, and car seat belts.
The MZ generation, which is leading the era these days, is actively using these brands and challenging society with the Zero Waste Challenge. Although the use of disposable products has increased as the delivery market has expanded due to social distancing, efforts are being made to protect the environment by putting into practice the use of tumblers and vegan cosmetics.
Changwon University students, members of the MZ generation, have also been exposed to Zero Waste significantly. Cha Hyun-jin, from the Dept of Culture and Technology said, “I’m familiar with Zero Waste and I have used the, ‘pillaroid,’ service that prints photos by recycling paper cups. As climate change becomes more serious, people’s interest in environmental conversation increases, and existing brands are also seen to develop eco-friendly products. However, I think it’s important whether the brand has sincerity in thinking about the environment, whether consumers can feel the sincerity before selling, and marketing Zero Waste products, not just for commercial purposes.” Ryu Ga-eun, from the Department of Global Business, said, “I don’t know much about Zero Waste, but whenever I use Baedal Minjok, I try not to receive disposable products for the environment. I think the purpose of Zero Waste itself is good, but I feel antipathy when I see it being used only as a means to show-off or as a marketing element. I wonder if changing only straws to paper, while making a lot of merchandises every season like Starbucks, really helps the environment?” she said.
As such, companies are conducting ESG management, just like the passionate enthusiasm for Zero Waste among the MZ generation. ESG management is short for Environmental Social Governance, which takes the lead in protecting the environment beyond corporate private profits, values social values that grow together, and is not coercive, or immoral. The, ‘mining out,’ tendency of the MZ generation, a major consumer group, influenced ESG management. The phrase, ‘mining out,’ means to express your beliefs, while consuming products and services that meet your values. In particular, since the MZ generation values social and ethical values, active consumer movements, such as boycotts, take place, so the spread of ESG management has increased at an accelerated rate.
Among ESG, companies that focus on environmental protection include Carrot Market, Woowa Brothers. Carrot Market reinterpreted the used trading market by reusing resources and creating a new business model based on the value of connection. As second-hand transactions became more active with the Carrot Market, transactions amounted to 120 million won in 2020, and the value of reused resources showed the same effect as planting 27.7 million trees. Woowa Brothers, who run Baedal Minjok, have introduced the, ‘use less disposable items,’ function in the Baedal Minjok application, and more than 10 million people participated, showing the effect of planting 1.85 million trees.
It is important to show the effort that of individuals or companies make for the environment. Even if it is part of marketing, it is meaningful to be able to practice Zero Waste. Individuals should also practice simple things that can have a major impact. There are well-known ways to practice Zero-Waste, such as using toothbrush cups, fewer disposable products, and using Zero Waste brands. In this way, if we are alert to environmental issues and continue to make efforts to protect the environment, we will be able to create a healthier future.
By So Min-young, cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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