Plastic, cheap and perceptions

Singapore Airlines is trying to switch their in-flight dining serviceware to paper rather than the current single-use plastic and met with accusation of attempting to cut costs. There is an issue also of sacrificing in-flight experience of customers for the sake of costs despite profits.

There are a few dimensions to consider in the debate and wider issues around the consumerist culture and system we have created. For the longest time, it pays off for companies to upsell: by providing better materials, packaging, a little more space and convenience, they can sell at higher price than it costs them to deliver the service or product. In fact sometimes they spend additional costs to cheapen the alternative because encouraging you to consume more and creating the cheaper alternative simultaneously enhance their customer base without cannibalising on some of their profits.

But as we step into a world where sustainability matters increasingly, these values and strategies we used to leverage on becomes more complex. We no longer just trade off customer experience, price and the costs of providing that experience. Now we have to consider how much being sustainable adds or subtracts that experience, how perceptions will be reshaped. And how important this is, for our culture to shift towards more sustainable consumption.