Survey by Triodos Bank suggest a third of Britons are making greener lifestyle changes during pandemic, but only fraction are shifting to greener banks or energy suppliers
With the current lockdown affording many people more time to tackle long-standing tasks and life admin, a third of UK adults have been making greener lifestyle changes such as reducing food waste, cutting down on plastic use, and avoiding 'fast fashion' purchases, according to a new poll.
Energy demand, transport use, and industrial activities have all plummeted due to measures aimed at curbing further spread of the coronavirus, sparking questions over whether changes in working practices and consumer habits driven by the current situation could continue after the lockdown.
Speculation is mounting that as restrictions are eased many businesses will make greater use of home-working, while analysts have also suggested the number of flights people take could be curbed for years to come.
But a survey of 2,000 adults commissioned by ethical banking firm Triodos Bank UK indicates that while many are shifting towards greener habits during the lockdown, some lifestyle changes which could have the largest positive environmental impact remain bottom of their to-do lists.
The survey found 80 per cent had been using the current lockdown to complete long overdue life admin tasks and projects, with 33 per cent of these focused on greener lifestyle changes.
Just under a third said they had made efforts to cut down on food waste and 27 per cent had sought to reduce plastic waste, while just under a quarter were walking or cycling more, and 19 per cent said they were no longer buying fast fashion, it found.
But only six per cent said they had used the lockdown period to switch to a 100 per cent renewable energy supplier, and only three per cent had moved to a more ethical bank, despite such moves potentially having a much wider positive impact on the environment.
The results come alongside a new campaign launched today to coincide with Earth Day which has been backed by Extinction Rebellion, 350.org, and Ethical Consumer and is calling on consumers to move their money and energy use away from fossil fuels, and instead towards green energy suppliers and investment products.
Triodos Bank UK CEO Bevis Watts claimed switching banks was "one of the most powerful environmental changes you can make as an individual", and argued additional spare time during the lockdown offered an opportunity to make the switch.
"You can have impact by aligning your money with your values and can choose to prevent your money from financing arms, pesticides, plastic packaging or fossil fuels," he said. "While many of us are currently at home, now might be the time that we tackle those admin tasks such as switching bank or changing energy provider. We have a unique opportunity to build a more sustainable society in the wake of this pandemic - one that puts people and planet first."
The news follows a separate survey published on Monday which also revealed that while many consumers are supportive of action to combat climate change, fewer understand how some of the biggest sources of CO2 are generated through their daily lives, such as their dietary choices and home heating.
Meanwhile, research released yesterday by Hubbub indicates the current lockdown is spurring major changes to eating habits, with more people cooking from scratch, wasting less food, shopping more locally, and buying higher quality food.
The environmental charity commissioned polling of 2,000 adults, which found 45 per cent were cooking more, with more than half saying they now valued food more since the coronavirus restrictions came into force. Almost half of respondents - 48 per cent - also said they were now throwing away less food, 26 per cent said they were buying better quality food, and 45 per cent said they were keen to learn more cooking skills and explore growing their own food, the survey also found.
"The impact of Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the way we are eating," said Trewin Restorick, CEO and co-founder of Hubbub. "But our polling reveals a divided nation. Some families are eating together more, young people are learning to cook, people want to know more about growing food and are planning meals better and using up leftovers. More people are shopping locally. But concerningly, just under half are more worried about food than previously and 43 per cent are concerned about the cost of food.
"In response to the polling, Hubbub is stepping up the support that we are providing, helping people get more value from their food - but more needs to be done. Today we are calling on supermarkets to step up their efforts to provide support and guidance to households helping them cope with these extraordinary times."
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