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Finder’s Green Report: Environmental efforts dip as cost of living increases

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Fewer Australians are tackling climate change amid the cost of living crisis, according to a new report by Finder.

Finder's Green Report 2023, which tracks green consumer sentiment and behaviour, reveals Australians displayed a slightly lower level of concern about their carbon footprint this year compared to last year.

Below are some key findings from the report:

The cost of living has impacted concern for the environment

  • Almost 1 in 2 (47%) Australians are less likely to spend money on green/sustainable purchases due to the cost of living crisis.
  • More than 2 in 5 (44%) Australians actively look for "greener" products or services – down from 46% in 2022, and 48% in 2021.
  • The first purchases to be dropped are free-range or organic foods (26%), electric vehicles (23%) and green energy (21%).
  • Green spending is less of a priority for Australians in 2023, with only 37% of consumers prepared to pay more for "greener" products or services, compared to 43% in 2022.

Australians are less concerned about their carbon footprint

  • The number of Australians taking action to reduce their carbon footprint has decreased to 83% in 2023 down from 89% in 2022.
  • The percentage of people who are not at all concerned about their carbon footprint has risen from 31% to 34%.
  • The percentage who are extremely concerned decreased from 14% to 12%.
  • Women (74%) and gen Z (82%) are the demographic groups most concerned about their carbon footprint.
  • Men (58%) and baby boomers (48%) are the least concerned about their carbon footprint.

Amy Bradney-George, sustainability expert at Finder, says:

  • "People are facing immediate pressures as the cost of living crisis continues.
  • "Unfortunately, climate change has been viewed by many as a "slow-burn" issue, with awareness building up over decades. More needs to be done, but consumers can only do so much.
  • "Aussies are spending less time and money on reducing their carbon footprint as they try to balance higher household costs. There's also a sense that some people are playing catch-up on travel and other experiences they may have missed out on during the pandemic, which took a toll on many people.
  • "The good news is that sustainability has long-term savings for our wallets and the planet.
  • "People who choose sustainable financial products or shop with green brands help support them and send a strong message that these changes are important."

How people are changing their behaviour

  • Mindfully reducing plastic use is the most common way Australians are tackling their environmental impact (56%).
  • Australians are also increasingly using energy-efficient appliances (39%) and energy-efficient lighting (36%) to lower their carbon footprint.
  • Since our 2022 report, there has been a slight decrease in the top sustainable behaviours, while some less popular actions such as paying for carbon offsets and green power saw a slim uplift.
  • The percentage of people who have not reduced their environmental impact at all has risen from 13% to 15%.

Amy Bradney-George, sustainability expert at Finder, says:

  • "This research shows consumers are less likely to spend more for green choices. But there are still some ways to be sustainable and save money. Electric vehicles continue to offer big savings, as do solar panels and even switching to green power.
  • "Another simple and effective way to save money and be sustainable is to buy less, or second-hand when you can.
  • "Inflation has seen grocery prices soar, so it's understandable that people are spending less on organic or free-range products that already have a higher price tag. But there are other sustainable and money-saving choices you can make at the supermarket, such as swapping meat for grains, legumes and seasonal produce.
  • "In the 2022 Finder Green Report, we calculated that reducing meat consumption could save people $1,844 a year. The popularity of ditching plastic also shows that there are relatively cost-free ways to make greener choices.
  • "People can make a big impact by switching to a greener bank or super fund. While greenwashing in this space is a serious concern, there are plenty of options in this space that offer transparent details about their sustainability measures, as the Finder Green Awards have shown."

Read Finder's Green Report 2023 here.

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