A month ago, Pure Planet launched its fourth annual Pure Planet People & Power Report 2020. It is a nationally representative survey aiming to learn more about people’s attitudes towards sustainability in 21st century Britain. Pure Planet was launched in 2017, to create a better world by offering clean, renewable energy to people’s homes for less cost than fossil-burning alternatives.
What are the key takeaways from the report?
For the report, a survey was commissioned of 2,000 people in autumn 2020. The good news is that more people feel responsible to be more sustainable. However, it clearly shows that there is a gap when it comes to wanting to be more sustainable and actually taking actions towards it.
Three-quarters of people agree that we all have a responsibility to tackle climate change, yet only 56% say they regularly take steps to be sustainable. 17% say they’ve taken no action at all. To find answers and to reflect on the outcome of the survey, Pure Planet worked together with sustainability experts. They looked at three key considerations stopping people from taking action.
Cost - People think it costs more to live sustainably
An important reason for this gap was due to affordability. 65% said it was more expensive to live a sustainable lifestyle and only 5% said it was cheaper. Especially among younger people this is a significant issue.
Pure Planet presented a couple that has chosen to be more conscious and how this is saving them money. For instance, by using the kettle once a day and keeping the water in a Thermos gives them enough hot water for the day. They rarely tumble dry clothes and turn household appliances off instead of on standby. This saves them around £90 per year. Switching to renewable energy saves them also £120 compared to previous suppliers. Also, growing their vegetables on a rented 750sq ft plot outside their home for £12 per year supplies them with enough fruit and vegetables to last six months of the year, therefore saving them around £40 a month.
This shows that with small steps and more conscious living it is possible to save money whilst being more sustainable.
Effort- People think it’s too difficult or time consuming to live sustainably
For young people, time was a reason for being less sustainable, 21% of young people said to be too busy to act sustainably. More than two fifths (41%) are not planning to switch to renewable energy, 11% think it’s ‘too much hassle’ and 8% think it’s ‘too complicated’.
Sacrifice - People want to see change, but they aren’t supporting the UK’s big ideas
Pure Planet finds that even when people are interested in zero waste initiatives, there is still a lack of support when it comes to solutions that could bring the UK to this goal sooner. Only 17% would support a policy that would limit how often people can fly, just 14% want added fuel tax on diesel vehicles and less than one in four (24%) support pollution reduction zones near schools and hospitals. Increase in renewable energy investments is something that people want to support (40%) for the last few years, whereas the support to ban single used plastic has dropped from 47% in 2018 to 39% in 2020.
Who is driving change?
More people are set to believe in industry, charities and NGOs just as much as they do the Government to drive change – 25% and 26% respectively. Yet they have the most faith in high-profile campaigners such as Sir David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg with 29% trusting them to lead us towards a greener world.
When it comes to consumers and normal citizens Pure Planet finds that older people appear to do more for everyday sustainability than the younger generation. Half of over 55s shop locally compared with a quarter of 18-34s, 49% prefer to buy fewer but longer-lasting clothes compared to 24% of younger people, and 43% of older respondents minimise single-use plastics compared to 21% of 18-34s. With that being said, the younger generation has more ambitious intentions, such as moving into a more eco-friendly house or buying electric cars.
The COVID-19 pandemic has offered a great opportunity for young and old to work together, with younger people having moved back to their parent's place. Together, they bring together experiences of two generations, combining young ideals with their parents’ older habits to be more sustainable.
The last year of great disruption has given a generation the opportunity to make long-lasting behavioural changes. But clearly, there are still barriers stopping us; We need to find a way to harness the energy and focus on things that have the most impact.The experts displayed in the report recommend five actions to overcome these barriers: Education, ‘make it easier’, consumer power, ‘working together’ and making sustainability the default option.