May 9, 2021

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Brits more concerned about environment since pandemic, claims survey


New research on environmental sustainability reveals a marked increase in consumer passion for the environment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with 85% of people across the globe now willing to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability issues.

According to the research commissioned by Mastercard, over two in five Brits (44%) are more conscious about their impact on the environment and see reducing their carbon footprint as more important now than before the pandemic.

The leading reasons came down to seeing discarded PPE, not having to commute long distances and having more time over the past year to think about the planet.

Top six reasons Brits’ opinions towards environmental and sustainable issues have changed since the start of the pandemic:

55% Seeing discarded PPE (e.g. face masks, gloves etc.) has made Brits more environmentally conscious
38% Coronavirus has demonstrated that Brits don’t need to commute long distances or travel unnecessarily
37% Brits had more time to think about their environmental impact (e.g. reduce food waste, carbon footprint etc.)
31% Brits feel more connected to their local community than they did before and would like to shop locally more and support independent businesses
27% Brits have watched more environmental documentaries (e.g. David Attenborough’s A Perfect Planet)
25% Increased news consumption during this time period has added to people’s understanding of environmental issues

Half of Brits admitted TV and documentaries have been the most powerful medium for tackling climate change, although 31% of Gen Zs found digital activism via social media impactful. 

Following their considerations of personal actions towards the environment, more than half of the nation (52%) stated that they believe companies should also behave in more sustainable and eco-friendly ways, with Gen Z leading on this shift (56%). Overall, nearly a third of Brits (29%) will give more value to brands that act in a responsible, transparent and honest way. 

As British consumers call on companies and brands to implement sustainable practices, Brits spotlighted the issue of plastic pollution in packaging and products (44%), reducing waste (37%) and reducing their carbon footprints to tackle climate change (29%) as the top three sustainability issues. 

Says Scott Abrahams, Senior Vice President, Business Development, Mastercard UK & Ireland:

“It’s great to see such positive change in attitudes towards the environment and tackling climate change, not only in the UK but across the world. Together, we can all make a difference to reduce our carbon footprint and we’re supporting consumers, communities and our partners to adopt sustainable practices as we look past the pandemic and look forward to a brighter future.”

As part of Mastercard’s Sustainability initiatives, which includes the Priceless Planet Coalition, it has also developed the Mastercard Carbon Calculator. This enables consumers to receive a snapshot of the carbon emissions generated by their purchases across spending categories. The calculations are powered by the independently verified Åland Index and can be further enhanced with relatable and easy-to-understand CO2 equivalents (such as trees), as well as tips about living more sustainably.

Consumers also have the option to contribute to the forest restoration projects of the Priceless Planet Coalition – whether by donating or using loyalty rewards programs by their banks. Banks can also integrate the Carbon Calculator into their mobile apps through new APIs that are now available on Mastercard Developers.  

Chris Price