As climate change continues to be one of the most disturbing challenges of today and the future, a wide range of mitigating measures need to be harnessed and adhered to so that Zimbabwe moves at the same wavelength with other eco-friendly nations around the world.
This means that Zimbabwean made and imported products need to be branded and labelled according to climate-friendly requirements.
This type of branding and labelling would motivate people to buy low-carbon products that will do less harm to the environment.
If one looks around their dressing tables and bathing rooms or even in the shops, how many perfumes and air fresheners are genuinely labelled environmentally or ozone- friendly?
People’s main worry is not the compliance or what happens to the quality of the air.
Their main worry is the availability of the product or the desire to smell good, but a deeper analysis reveals that the majority of perfumes are counterfeits and they don’t have environmentally-compliant labels.
This also extends to chemicals, which include pesticides and herbicides.
Most chemicals that are not certified or branded environmentally-compliant are normally found outside shops, on the pavement, especially.
There are a wide range of these uncertified products that pose a danger to both human beings and the environment. The question to ask is: How do these products find their way into the country if they are such a hazard to the environment?
Branding and labelling are two complementary terms. American Marketing Authority defines a brand as a name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of them intended to motivate the buyer, confirm credibility and deliver a message clearly.
Labelling is putting a sign on the product stating whether the product is ozone-friendly or has been certified by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe.
As we use these perfumes, pesticides and herbicides, how many tonnes of carbon are released into the atmosphere by the people of Zimbabwe every year?
Most of these products are sometimes counterfeits from friendly countries of course, the reason being that we are a small country, the size of their country’s dustbins. In simple terms, we are becoming a dumping ground of cheap quality goods that contribute to global warming.
It’s a bit early for the people of Zimbabwe to have the environment in mind when they are buying goods. Most people want to benefit from the environment without them nourishing it.
Environmental issues are not central or juicy beats, and as a result they are placed at the periphery of the reporting ladder.
For this reason, advertising companies involved in branding should have a desire to see their brands going green as well as engaging in aggressive green marketing so that people see the relationship between goods and services with nature.
That Zimbabwe still allows used vehicles into the country yet they have been rejected in their countries of origin as a danger to the environment, shows that we are not yet serious about mitigating global warming.
For a number of years vehicle owners have been paying carbon taxes but most of them can hardly link carbon taxes to climate change.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe may be letting down people indirectly on issues concerning the greening of consumer products. If some informed Zimbabwean buyers had a choice, then they would buy green.
The media is not doing enough to educate people about green branding and to them the only issue of environment worth mentioning is the Victoria Falls.
The Consumer Council and the Standards Association of Zimbabwe need to assist with their expertise so as to curb the proliferation of harmful products.
Peter Makwanya is a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe. He writes in his own capacity.