Britons hope to keep sustainable habits post-COVID-19

Britons are keen to continue with low-carbon lifestyle choices adopted during lockdown, according to research by The University of Manchester and Cardiff University. Two wide-ranging surveys suggested lockdown had encouraged buying and traveling less, reduced energy use and cutting down on food waste.

Britons are keen to continue with the low-carbon lifestyle choices adopted during lockdown, such as buying and traveling less, reducing energy use and cutting down on food waste, new research has found.

Particularly striking was people’s intentions to cut down on flying for holidays and the large increase in support for limiting flying to tackle climate change, said the researchers in a statement. 47% of the respondents said they intended to take fewer flights.

The researchers were also surprised to find the level of public concern over climate change had increased—rather than decreased—during the global pandemic.

The researchers said the results suggested lockdown had disrupted people’s habits and they are urging policy-makers to seize upon this “unique moment of change”. The two UK-wide surveys were carried out during lockdown in May with more than 1,800 respondents.

A notable reduction in food waste was reported (92% to 84%) and there was also an increase in waste-reducing practices, such as meal planning, freezing and preserving food.

Participants spent less during lockdown, with the most striking drop in spending on clothes and footwear (63% spent nothing on clothing/footwear in March-May, up from 9% spending nothing on it during the three months prior to lockdown), writes the statement.

On energy use, participants said they were more likely to turn off lights and unused appliances (27% now up from 21% pre-lockdown saying they ‘always’ do this) and heat their home to a lower temperature compared to pre-lockdown (36% now down from 47% pre-lockdown heating their home on old days to at least 20C).

The researchers will conduct follow-up surveys when lockdown is fully lifted to understand the longer-term impacts.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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