British consumers would be willing to pay £3,654 more a year for eco-friendly household goods and services.
A poll of 2,000 adults found they’d spend an average of 12 per cent more for sustainable items – on top of their existing annual household outgoings of around £30,000.
The study also found the plight of the planet has become more important to the nation over lockdown, with 81 per cent becoming increasingly concerned about environment issues.
And half of adults have already taken action – buying less plastic, recycling more and even spending less time in the shower.
The study was commissioned by global hygiene and health company Essity, manufacturer of household brands Cushelle, Plenty and Bodyform.
It found consumers have also reduced their food waste and cut down on the number of single-use items they would typically buy, undeterred by the challenges of lockdown.
But despite more of those polled being greener, half of adults said they are confused about what being sustainable really is.
They admit they’re not entirely sure what buzzwords such as ‘compostable’, ‘organic’, and ‘biodegradable’ actually mean.
Daniel Minney, Essity’s regional vice president – UK & ROI, said: “This is a watershed moment for the environment and companies need to react.
“Consumers are telling us that they have a renewed vigour for greener living, they want to be more sustainable and even that they will spend more to be so.
“But there are barriers that need to be removed. Confusing terminology, inconsistent infrastructure, and a lack of trust means people aren’t being empowered to live as sustainably as they’d like.
“By identifying those barriers and working to remove them, we can have a positive impact on people and our environment.”
The study also found 54 per cent get a feeling of joy whenever they do their bit for the planet.
As such, eight in 10 adults intend to stick to their eco-friendly ways even as restrictions are phased out.
However, it might be tricky for the 51 per cent of adults who are baffled by sustainability.
Of those two-fifths admitted they find this topic overwhelming, while 45 per cent believe there is conflicting advice about what they should and shouldn’t do to be green.
Other barriers to being eco-friendly include confusion over what can be recycled and where particular items can be recycled.
However, 45 per cent of everyone polled said access to more convenient options for recycling and reusing products would help them to be more sustainable.
And more than a third said there is a need for brands and businesses to be more transparent about the sustainability of their products, with 35 per cent believing manufacturers aren’t taking the issue seriously enough.
More than a quarter are even of the view that corporations are even ‘attempting to bury the issue’.
The Essity study carried out through OnePoll also found two-thirds think large corporations have been too slow to offer a greater range of green products.
Mr Minney added: “Businesses have a crucial role to play in looking after the planet and this report has shown us the importance of keeping sustainability simple to enable greater progress.
“At Essity, we have a responsibility to play our part, so we’re taking action on what we call ‘the 4 Rs’ – recycle, reuse, reduce and responsible.
“With insight from this study we hope to rally our employees, customers and the wider industry to build on this positive momentum around sustainability and make it easier for the British public to live more sustainable lives.”
Sir Tim Smit, co-founder of the Eden Project, said: “We are living at a time of which historians will write in future years and the script remains ours to write.
“It is my fervent hope that we will be judged for our wisdom and desire to rewrite that future into one in which we live in harmony with the natural world.”
Ella Daish, environmental activist, and BBC Top 100 Women 2019, added: “The research highlights key areas where change needs to be made by businesses, to make being sustainable easier for consumers.
“With overcomplicated recycling information, conflicting news stories and mystifying greenwashing claims made by companies, it is unsurprising that despite being more in-tune with the subject, 51 per cent of consumers find it confusing.
“We need collective action at all levels to overcome these issues. I hope to see manufacturers, supermarkets and brands reacting and reflecting upon these findings and responding by taking responsibility and committing to make real changes.
“We need them to show leadership, become transparent and bring sustainability to the forefront by finding solutions to tackle the issues at source.”
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