Four in ten Brits can’t afford to make sustainable lifestyle changes

Essity explains what the 'green line' is and how to live sustainably

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More than four in ten Brits are living below “the green line” – and don’t have enough disposable income to make sustainable lifestyle changes. A study of 2,000 adults found they each need an average of at least £389 in spare money – after food, bills, and putting a roof over their own heads – to be as eco-friendly as they’d like.

A third of those polled would love to be able to get solar panels if money were no object, while 28 percent would get an electric vehicle.

And 26 percent would be open to buying locally produced food if their bank balance allowed.

Contributing to charities, helping the homeless, upgrading the boiler, and installing smart technology, are all on the list of positive changes people would like to make – with a bit more cash.

But the average adult has just £367 in the bank once the bills and monthly outgoings have been catered for, while 13 percent have under £200, and one in five have less than £100.

It also emerged cost is now the top priority for purchasing (65 percent), while opting for green providers (15 percent) or products (24 percent) is now less of a must in the current cost-of-living climate.

However, many acknowledge there are some areas where they can still make a difference – such as using a reusable coffee cup to save money on out-of-home drinks purchases, buying fewer takeaways, and being more economical with use of certain products.

Hygiene and health company, Essity, has mapped the sustainable efforts of the nation over the past 12 months, and charted the struggles here.

A spokesman said: “The cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, and as well as having an impact on our everyday spending, it is also affecting our behaviours towards sustainable living.

“Studies over the last three years show a consistent willingness for British people to be more sustainable – but they feel they are constantly being pushed in the opposite direction, due to a reducing disposable income and a perceived lack of more sustainable options.”

The study also found that over the last 12 months, the economic crisis has affected people’s ability to afford household bills the most (37 percent), followed by the purchase of food and drinks (15 percent).

More than four in ten (44 percent) now find it harder to afford what they want, while half (49 percent) have less disposable income than they did a year ago.

And when it comes to prioritising with the small amount of spare cash they do have, people are choosing to put this in savings (35 percent) or towards holidays (14 percent), rather than sustainability (10 percent).

More than half would like to be more environmentally friendly – but don’t feel in a position to make that happen.

To aid change, many would like the emphasis on being green to be taken off their shoulders – with 35 percent wanting to see less packaging on products in shops, and 32 percent welcoming better recycling facilities.

Cheaper or more public transport would be a positive introduction for 30 percent of those polled, via OnePoll – while 28 percent would like solar panels to be put on buildings, and 27 percent want to see a ban on single-use plastics.

More sustainable restaurants, schools, and workplaces are considered a must by many, as are the implementation of wind farms and green spaces.

A fifth want the government to take charge and incentivise businesses to be greener, and for there to be more investment or research into eco-friendly power alternatives.

The spokesman for Essity added: “The results of the study tell us that the current economic climate feels like a stranglehold for people wanting to live a greener lifestyle.

“But there are many actions we can take that not only have a positive sustainability impact, but will also benefit our pockets too. We all need to think about how we can reduce, reuse, and recycle.”

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