For Bobby Leon, owner of Akita Pest Control in Lancaster, Pa., being mindful of the environment stretches beyond corporate social responsibility and falls into the realm of human duty.
“I feel that we need to do our part in helping out in the world wherever we can,” Leon told me in a recent interview about the purchase of his first electric service vehicle and his eventual plans to convert 80 percent of the rest of his fleet to electric.
When we talked, Leon was getting quotes to install solar panels at his business in another effort to go green. His eco-friendly plans are part of a larger trend as companies and consumers become more concerned about the environment, a steadily increasing movement underscored by PCT’s April 2021 State of the Naturals Market survey (sponsored by Zoëcon/Central Life Sciences with research compiled by Readex, an independent research firm).
According to that research, 21 percent of PMPs have purchased smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles to better embrace green practices in their operations. Not only do these vehicles decrease emissions and take less of a toll on the environment, but they also send a rolling message to customers that the company behind them cares about the environment.
Going green can cost, well, a lot of green, though proponents say it pays for itself over time in things like fuel savings. For Leon, it meant installing a vehicle charging station at his business and shopping used to save on his first electric car. But despite the potentially costly investment, when companies make the environment a priority, it appeals to the broadening range of customers who are more concerned about the environment. In a 2020 study by IBM and the National Retail Federation, nearly 70 percent of U.S. and Canadian consumers placed importance on a brand being sustainable or eco-friendly.
People in my age group are especially interested in going green. Millennials (born between 1981-1996) were the most responsive to green marketing messages, said 44 percent of PMPs in the 2021 PCT State of the Naturals Market survey.
I can’t speak for my entire generation, but as PCT’s resident millennial on staff, I can say that I fall into the majority. I recently started composting (I’m now taking tips on keeping ants away from my kitchen compost bin) and have been searching for other small ways to live more sustainably, like thrifting instead of purchasing fast fashion, to ease the existential dread of climate change.
Why should companies listen to a generation often mocked for its affinity for avocado toast and its ambivalence toward more traditional goals like home ownership? Well, for one, Gallup’s report “How Millennials Want to Work and Live” says millennials are worth about $1.4 trillion in consumer spending as of 2020, a figure big enough to attract any business’ attention.
The next generation appears set to follow suit, and PMPs are noticing, according to research from our State of the Naturals Market reports (2019-2021). The percentage of PMPs that said Generation Z (born between 1997-2012) was most receptive to green pest control advertising jumped from 13 percent in 2019 to 24 percent in 2021.
As PCT’s new senior editor and a newbie to the pest control industry, I’m interested to see how these numbers evolve in future market studies. I’m also excited to witness the innovative ways pest control companies work to become environmental stewards for the betterment of not only their customers, but the rest of the planet.