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Is AI The Future of Sustainable Consumerism?

April 18, 2022

It’s no secret that AI technology and advanced machine learning have made vast improvements in recent years. Where AI technology was once relegated to recommendation algorithms and unpredictable chat functions, today we see advanced systems that have turned the uncanny valley into a mere crack in the pavement. Modern AI and machine learning can produce reactive programs that some people have trouble identifying as artificial, but one question remains, how can we use these systems as a positive force in the modern world?

For good reason, the popular zeitgeist continues to move toward a more sustainable approach to modern consumerism. With the effects of global warming and our disposable culture quickly catching up with us, the modern consumer is much more open to sourcing products from sustainable companies and ecologically conscious suppliers.

In the recent 2021 Global Sustainability Study, researchers discovered that more than a third of global consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly alternatives to their favourite products, with 85% of people indicating that their purchasing behaviour has shifted towards a more sustainable approach in the last 5 years. So, the precedent appears to be set for a great shift in consumer habits, but the main question that arises regards how companies can make it easier for consumers to find the brands and products whose values align with their own?

This is where advanced AI technology can measurably improve the sustainability of modern consumerism. AI is already utilised by global corporations to better market chosen products to their audience. Google’s search function relies heavily on machine learning and AI technology to better understand people’s search habits, using this information to pre-emptively recommend products and services to its user base. Amazon, of course, utilises a similar approach with its Alexa line of products, and in a more rudimentary sense, most websites offer a comparative function through the use of cookies.

If modern AI technology can gain such a deep understanding of people’s shopping habits, that certainly opens the door for an intelligent system to direct consumers towards the most sustainable options available. Fashion is one of the most obvious industries in which sustainability, as a whole, seems to be somewhat elusive. The disposable culture of fast-fashion is not a system that can be supported in the long term, with studies showing that of the 100 billion garments produced each year, 33% end up landfilled within 12 months. The global textile industry is also responsible for a whopping 8% of carbon emissions and 20% of the world’s waste water.

With 27.6% of all people now actively shopping online, and the fashion industry in particular being the largest business to consumer e-commerce market, it certainly seems like a good place to start in terms of AI powered sustainable marketing functions. But, it’s not the only e-commerce market that could see a great benefit from more easily accessible sustainability practices.

Perhaps thanks, in part, to the 2020 pandemic, more people than ever are engaging in online grocery shopping. Three quarters of UK residents now purchase at least part of their weekly food shop online, with the UK’s online grocery market size equating to $29.8 billion. The stats regarding the food industry’s sustainability make for frustrated reading, with 26% of greenhouse gas emissions and 78% of global water pollution being a direct consequence of global food production. But that’s not to say that there are not companies and brands making great strides to reduce these environmental impacts. The overriding problem is that, as it stands, the marketing power of global corporations is just too strong to be affected by the growing number of sustainable companies.

The AI powered search function we’re envisaging here could prove to be the answer to this great gap in marketing power. If consumers trust a system’s ability to promote the most sustainable options to hand, they will no longer need to rely on the traditional marketing techniques that global corporations have become so skilled at wielding. AI technology can currently predict trends with impressive accuracy, to reduce production waste, aid brands in assessing the sustainability of their supply chain, and to help connect sustainable companies with like minded consumers. What we’re lacking is a trusted system that can combine these advantageous qualities.

The technology is there, the audience is there and most importantly the need is there to continue to build a more sustainable commercial market. Just as your favourite streaming platform can vastly reduce the time spent choosing what program to watch through its recommendation algorithm, an AI powered sustainability search could drastically improve the speed and efficiency of connecting environmentally conscious consumers to the increasing number of brands dedicated to upholding a social responsibility.

Picture a browser extension, powered by AI technology, that could not only aid in your search for sustainable brands, but learn from your habits and preemptively suggest the companies that best align with your principles. No longer would the conscious consumer need to conduct intensive research into the hidden practices of popular brands, they would be free to shop with the reassurance that only the most sustainable companies are being suggested to them.

The mission to connect responsible consumers with sustainable brands is the driving force behind everything we do at Miigle+. We’ve spent years of dedicated time developing a comprehensive directory of the most sustainable and socially conscious brands and companies in the world today. In our time working with these forces of positive change, we’ve found too many social good brands are forced to cease their operations, not due to failures on their own part, but a lack of exposure and infrastructure to compete with the colossal marketing forces of international corporations. We firmly believe that an AI powered sustainability search function could represent a lifeline for these fantastic brands, and help to build a better future for modern consumerism, so we’ll do everything we can to make it a reality. Discover some of the best ethical, social good and vegan brands today by visiting our growing directory.



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