Three in 10 Britons admit to throwing away plastic to make life easier, study claims

It's easier for Britons to be mean than green 

Gemma Francis
Tuesday 15 January 2019 13:58 GMT
How companies recycle metal

Britons admit to ignoring environmental concerns to make their lives easier, a study has found.

A poll of 2,000 adults found that although 87 per cent agree with the importance of being green, more than half believe it is often ‘inconvenient’.

Meanwhile, three in 10 admit they throw away plastic food containers instead of washing and reusing or recycling.

And 23 per cent said they request paper bills when they could have gone for the ‘paperless’ emailed-receipt option instead.

Furthermore, almost half said they pay for plastic bags instead of carrying resuable ones, while 27 per cent said they opt to tumble dry clothes instead of hanging them out to dry.

Others admit to buying paint in a plastic pot rather than in a metal can, which can be recycled at most household waste and recycling centres.

Environmental concerns also go out the window amid boiling a kettle filled with more water than we need and having the heating turned up high all the time.

A spokesman for the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association (MPMA), which commissioned the research, said: “Our results found the vast majority of Britons are keen on the idea of being green.

“Unfortunately, it often only takes the slightest inconvenience to knock all of the wind out of our sails and we wind up doing things that are easy – but not great for the planet.

“But we do also look to retailers and manufacturers to make it clear how we can be more environmentally friendly when we use their products.

"Those on-pack recycling logos and instructions clearly matter.”

Sweden is amazing at recycling

The study also found a quarter of those polled have thrown away food which could have been eaten or reused in some way, while a third are happy to jump in the car when they could easily have walked the distance.

More than half pick up disposable batteries rather than rechargable ones and 37 per cent have purchased a bottle of water when they could have taken one from home.

A fifth of respondents found that being environmentally conscious was a ‘burden’ on their lives.

A quarter think it’s too expensive, and one in five simply don’t believe their contribution will make any difference to the future of the world.

Others say they are ‘too busy’ to be green - or find it confusing.

However, 65 per cent of respondents do worry about the impact of people not being environmentally-friendly on future generations.

Britons also admit to being far less environmentally friendly at work than they are at home.

The research, carried out via OnePoll, also found almost 70 per cent believe retailers are not doing enough to present the recycling attributes of the products they sell.

Another 83 per cent believe retailers should make it crystal clear whether a packet, pot or parcel can be recycled or not.

And when buying a product such as paint, the recyclability of the container is often the third most influential factor – after the cost and quality of the product.

The MPMA spokesman added: “Consumers want to be given the information to make an informed choice and not be misled into believing a pack is infinitely recycled, when in fact it isn’t, as is often the case.

“Take paint cans. Empty plastic paint cans have a comparatively limited recycling life, while metal paint cans can be recycled over and over, with no loss of quality.

"The choice is yours.”

Top 20 things Britons do because it’s more convenient than being green:

  1. Buy new batteries instead of rechargeable ones
  2. Use a plastic straw
  3. Pay for a 5p plastic bag instead of remembering your re-usable shopping bags
  4. Put fresh fruit and veg in a plastic bag at the supermarket
  5. Leave lights turned on when you aren’t in the room
  6. Buy a plastic bottle of water instead of carrying one you can reuse
  7. Leave plug sockets switched on even when they aren’t in use
  8. Drive when you could have walked
  9. Throw out plastic food packaging instead of washing it out to recycle it
  10. Use a tumble dryer instead of hanging clothes on the line
  11. Put something recyclable into the bin instead of sorting it into the right recycling box
  12. Throw food away which could have been eaten or reused
  13. Boil a full kettle for one cup of tea
  14. Buy paint in plastic pots instead of metal, which can be recycled
  15. Use a new coffee cup with your takeaway coffee instead of taking a reusable one
  16. Still ask for paper bills when you could go paperless
  17. Leave a tap running for a long time/ when you aren’t using it
  18. Have the heating on while also having windows open
  19. Leave the shower turned on when you aren’t it
  20. Wash laundry on a hot wash when it didn’t need it


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