Organic shoppers bottle out of going green all over

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The Independent Online
Green shopping is "alive and kicking" according to two polls released today, with consumers worried about the effect their purchases have on the environment. But shoppers are still reluctant to give up their tumble driers, televisions, cars and other creature comforts to ensure a cleaner planet.

An exclusive MORI poll for The Independent found that more than one in three people think that the planet will not be able to sustain the human race beyond the year 2100 if goods are manufactured and consumed at current rates.

In the poll of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the Ark Environmental Foundation, just under half of consumers said they want goods to be redesigned in an environmentally responsible way. Only one in eight people felt that they could carry on as they are.

Those aged 35-44 are most inclined to think the planet will not be able to sustain the human race if goods are manufactured and consumed at current rates, with more than four in ten holding this view. Just under half of consumers, particularly those aged 15-34, want goods to be defined in an environmentally conscious way.

The results mirror a new report from the National Consumer Council (NCC) which found that one in three consumers is committed to green shopping and one in five regularly buys green. The report identifies five types of "green" shoppers: affluent greens, young greens, recyclers, careful spenders and sceptics.

Affluent greens and young greens (who together make up 36 per cent of the population) are committed to green consumerism, buying unleaded petrol, using recycled products, and more likely to buy organic food.

Recyclers and careful spenders (38 per cent) also act in an environmentally friendly way, although they do not usually buy green. Only the sceptics (26 per cent) do not buy products described as environmentally friendly because they are not convinced that "green" products are better for the environment.

Launching the report, the NCC chairman David Hatch said: "Retailers tell us green products are not selling. They say that for many shoppers `green' ... has come to sound cranky. However, our survey shows that the green consumer is alive and kicking [but] they can find neither the products nor the accurate information they need."

A MORI poll for Ark earlier this year found that while nine out of ten respondents are very or fairly concerned about the environment, when asked what they would be prepared to give up, at least 90 per cent indicated that they were not prepared to go without basic items such as a television or central heating. Nearly one-quarter said they were not prepared to cut down on the use of anything.

Reg Boorer, executive director of Ark, said: "As it appears that the majority of us have no intention of curbing our consumer instincts ... it places the onus firmly on designers, manufacturers and service- providers to redesign all our goods and services in a fundamentally more sustainable manner."

8 MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 2,036 adults aged 15-plus in Great Britain from 31 October to 5 November 1996. All interviews were conducted in homes, face-to-face. Data has been weighted to the known profile of the British population. The Ark Environmental Foundation can be contacted at Suite 640-643 Linen Hall 162-168 Regent St, London W1R 5TB; 0171-439 4567.

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