Consumers cynical about going eco-friendlySurvey finds people suffering 'green overload'

21 February 2007

Cynical consumers are suffering ‘green overload’ and think there is little they can do to help the environment, according to a report out today.

They feel powerless to make a difference and believe companies use green issues for their own ends.

The survey of 2,052 adults found that one in five people are apathetic about the environment, according to market analysts Mintel.

At the same time, nearly a quarter of consumers are simply unsure how to lead a greener way of life.

Environmental dilemmas

Mintel Consumer Research Manager Angela Hughes said mixed messages about the environment were making people switch off.

She said: ‘Although there are no easy solutions to many of the environmental and ethical dilemmas which face society today, most consumers clearly need to be presented with simpler messages.’

Meanwhile, a new report claims that buying locally-grown organic food is not always best for the environment.

Researchers found ‘no clear evidence’ that buying local was more eco-friendly than global sourcing.

Organic food

The environmental benefits of organic food are ‘not clear-cut’, according to the Environmental Impacts of Food Production and Consumption report.

The Manchester Business School report also found the impact of people shopping by car outweighed ‘food miles’ clocked up earlier in the food chain.

In some cases it could be better to buy imported food produced with less impact on the environment than to buy local, the report said.

The study, carried out for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), assessed the environmental impact of producing 150 top-selling food items.

Carbon footprint

Report project director Professor Ken Green said: ‘If you are concerned about the 'carbon footprint' of foods, there can be a good case for importing some of them even if they can be grown in the UK.

‘The evidence available so far shows that 'local' is not always the best option for the environment.’

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