As the Unified Water Label unveils tools to support retailers in getting the sustainability message across to consumers, Yvonne Orgill considers the impact that COP26 will have on the bathroom industry, and reveals why she believes change is now finally coming.
"While many climate activists will be disappointed with the outcomes from COP26, for me the significant shift in attitude towards everyone having a collective responsibility is the most positive outcome. The scale of the interest and protests from people around the world has shown that people do want to take responsibility for their actions, and are not happy to leave it to the politicians any longer.
"COP26 has come at a time when many high-profile environmentalists have been making their voices heard. People like David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg have been advocating that individuals can have an impact, with small changes, adding up to a big collective difference.
"The changes that we are all experiencing, such as extreme weather patterns, require behaviour changes across the board, big strategy decisions on a global level and new ideas and discussions at a local level. There are many ways that the ordinary person can make a difference, be it shopping locally, reducing food waste or choosing to travel with regard for the environmental impact.
"COP26 has demonstrated that people do care and it is time for retailers in the bathroom industry to wake up and smell the coffee. They can no longer hide behind the view that consumers are not interested in water-efficient products. Consumers are more environmentally aware than they have ever been. Everyone involved in the bathroom industry has a responsibility to help to play their part, by offering and promoting Unified Water Label products, and helping consumers understand how to make more informed choices.
"Retailers have a unique opportunity to take up this challenge, and influence and educate consumers on the options available. They are well placed to promote products that are UWL registered and advise on the performance aspects, reassuring consumers that water saving does not mean reduced performance. There is also a commercial gain for those that can offer quality products and advice to those consumers looking to make the right environmental choices when investing in their home.
"Bathroom manufacturers are great innovators and have developed fantastic products that offer water efficiencies with no loss of performance. These products, which carry the Unified Water Label, can cater for the wide range of bathing and showering habits that are to be found in homes. Providing products is just one part of the jigsaw puzzle, including how consumers use those products is a more complex issue and requires a long-term commitment.
"We are seeing many bathroom manufacturers take up this challenge, sharing their sustainability ambitions and aims with consumers. National retailers are starting to follow, and we are likely to see some big names commit over the next 12 months. The UWLA is working with its partners and members to support all retailers with the tools they need to play their part. We have put together a retailer package that is easy to use and access for free, from the website. It includes a range of tools, flyers, posters, social media posts and videos, all reinforcing our message that water matters, and tips and advice on how to save water in the home.
"Those wanting to find out more about the retailer support package or how to support the Unified Water Label, can visit www.uwla.eu."