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Green guilt

Joanna Lumley visits waste recycling centre as the UK’s sustainability mishaps are revealed
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Joanna Lumley

New research by BRITA has uncovered the nation’s feelings around ‘green guilt’– with over half (57%) of Brits saying that they could be doing more to reduce their environmental footprint at home. 

Although 74% of Brits care about the planet and are motivated to make environmentally friendly choices, over one in four (28%) Brits experience ‘green guilt’ due to their non-sustainable lifestyle habits; of those, three in 10 (31%) feel this at least once a week.

Buying plastic

Excessive single-use plastic (53%), including buying plastic bottled water and food packaged in plastic, was named as nation’s biggest green guilt – the feeling experienced when we could and should be doing more to help preserve the environment.

Food and water waste (39%), forgetting a reusable shopping bag (37%) and not recycling properly (33%) also featured within the top ten triggers of green guilt. 
Sir David Attenbourough was cited in the research as Brits’ biggest inspiration to make more eco-friendly life choices (27%), however watching TV programmes about the environment and sustainability, such as David Attenborough’s A Life on our Planet, was also named as one of the biggest triggers for feelings of green guilt (35%).

Fear of being judged

When asked who they would they confess their sustainability guilts to, over half of Brits (54%) said that they keep their trangressions to themselves.

Of those who hide their lifestyle choices, one in three (34%) do so for fear of being judged. The research also revealed that one third of millennials felt they had been judged by others – the highest of any generational group. 
The study was specially commissioned as BRITA ambassador, Joanna Lumley, calls for Brits to take action by making small household changes to feel good about their green wins.

Joanna’s call follows a visit to a waste recycling centre, captured by photographer Mary McCartney, which highlights the growing issue surrounding household plastic waste.  

Waste in lockdown

A quarter (26%) claimed the increased use of disposable masks, sanitiser and PPE was cause for not being able to do more to reduce household waste, yet one in four (24%) say they have made an effort to be more environmentally friendly since the onset of the pandemic.
The research identifies reducing food waste (32%), buying products with less or no plastic packaging (24%) and making food from scratch (20%) as the most popular everyday sustainability trends to have emerged from lockdown.
Meanwhile, one in seven (15%) have started upcycling – finding new uses for items, such as turning old jars into glasses – 13% have started growing their own fruit and veg and one in eight (12%) have turned to composting. 


Impact on shopping

Outside the pandemic, environmental considerations are also impacting consumer spending behaviour – while two-thirds (65%) say they want to be more sustainable in order to help the planet, 34% are driven by a desire to make cost savings.
Three-quarters (77%) of Brits say green guilt impacts their shopping choices, with one in five (21%) saying they actively shop for items with greener credentials. 
Over four in 10 (42%) have ditched plastic bottles in favour of a reusable water bottle in a bid to be more sustainable. 
Meanwhile, just under four in 10 (39%) have made an effort to stop buying fast fashion in order to reduce their environmental impact, whilst one in four (25%) are rethinking travel and going on fewer holidays by plane.
One in five (21%) also admit that they feel guilty about eating meat due to the environmental impact, with one in eight (13%) now eating a vegetarian diet in order to combat feelings of guilt, whilst another 8% have adopted a fully vegan, plant-based diet. 

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