Unlike any other time in history, consumers are truly demanding more from the companies with which they do business. Today’s shoppers are looking for ethical, eco-friendly brands that put people and the planet ahead of profits. Led by the estimated 83 million millennials in the world, this change shows the need for companies to lead with compassion and authenticity. The spending power of millennials can’t be overlooked. They are projected to spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020 .

Undoubtedly, technology is a major contributing factor to this shift in purchasing. Consumers have endless information about a company’s practices, mission and values at their fingertips. They are also attuned to what’s happening in the world around them and want to help address the pressing issues they are facing while not contributing further to the problems they inherited. Consider this: 81% of millennials want a company to make public commitments to charitable causes and global citizenship, something many corporations are not used to doing.

According to the 2018 Conscious Consumer Spending Index, in 2018, 59% of people bought goods or services from a company they considered socially responsible, and 32% of Americans plan to spend even more this year with companies that align with their social values. What’s equally important to note is that in the same timeframe, 32% of Americans refused to support a company that they felt was not socially responsible.

In the past, companies just had to focus on business sustainability, but now environmental sustainability is playing an equally important role. Millennials have grown up worrying about climate change and place a great deal of importance on recycling. A recent study by researchers at Yale and George Mason University found that Americans are well past the question of whether climate change is happening, and more than 60% said the changes are mostly caused by humans as opposed to occurring naturally. Because of this, consumers want to know what businesses are doing to limit their carbon footprint, emissions, water usage and damage to the earth.

As e-commerce continues to grow and online shopping becomes the norm, one of the easiest ways for companies to demonstrate a commitment to sustainability is to offset the emissions associated with shipping. It’s easy, and not overly expensive, to establish regular donations to organizations such as Friends of Trees, One Tree Planted and the Nature Conservatory.

Read the rest of Anna-Mieke Anderson’s article at Forbes