Cost is an increasingly large barrier to a more sustainable lifestyle in 2023, states a recent industry report, with the majority of consumers saying they haven’t adopted sustainable behaviours in the last 12 months because it is too expensive.
According to the fourth edition of Deloitte’s Sustainable Consumer 2023 report, 62 per cent of consumers who did not adopt a more sustainable lifestyle blamed cost. This index is up by 10 per cent from 2022.
Just one in four are prepared to pay more to protect biodiversity (26 per cent), for more sustainable products and packaging (24 per cent), or for suppliers that respect human rights (25 per cent).
However, many consumers are making more conscious sustainable purchasing decisions, with close to one in three (30 per cent) saying they have stopped purchasing certain brands or products because of ethical or sustainability-related concerns.
A third (34 per cent) of consumers stated that their trust in brands would be improved if they were recognised as an ethical/sustainable provider by an independent third party. A similar proportion (32%) claimed that their trust in brands would be improved if they had a transparent, accountable, and socially and environmentally responsible supply chain.
There has been an increase in consumers adopting circularity (the practice of renewing, reusing or recycling something) in the past year. The research shows that over half (55 per cent) repaired an item instead of replacing it (53 per cent in 2022) and 46 per cent bought second hand or refurbished items (40 per cent in 2022).
The report adds that while most consumers have tried to lower their energy consumption by cutting things like heating (81 per cent) and washing clothes at a lower temperature (74 per cent), a third or less have invested in longer term energy-saving solutions such as home insulation (25 per cent), solar panels, energy-efficient appliances (36 per cent) or double glazing (31 per cent).
Emily Cromwell, ESG lead for the consumer industry at Deloitte, commented: “For most, adopting a more sustainable lifestyle starts with recycling or reducing waste at home. However, many consumers are beginning to actively consider sustainability when buying products and services, as well as considering their overall lifecycle.
“The cost-of-living crisis is also having an impact, with sustainable behaviours that help people to spend less seeing the largest year-on-year uplift, and given inflationary pressures, the increasing adoption of circular practices could be more about saving money than saving the planet. Whatever the reason, the growth of conscious buying habits is welcome. The question is, how much of this behavioural change will become permanent?”
Cromwell added, “Consumers want businesses and institutions to take the lead in supporting them in their adoption of more environmentally sustainable habits and are prepared to be loyal to those who do. It is key that businesses work together with policymakers not only to make sustainable choices more affordable, but also to share better information around the impact of buying choices on the environment.