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Revealed: UK Citizen’s Interest In Sustainability  Skyrockets To Its Highest In 5 Years 

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The world has increasingly become environmentally conscious after COVID-19, and the UK is not far  behind. Social and political developments in the past few years have led to a boost in

public  awareness.  

In simplest terms, sustainability refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present without  compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The topic encompasses many  areas, including environmental protection and economic development, and has dominated discourse  for quite a while. 

Nathan Gray, head of sustainability at  Reconomy– a leading waste management company in the UK,  has looked at Google Trends data, which reveals that the term "sustainability" reached a score of 100  in April 2022 in the UK. A value of 100 indicates the peak popularity of the term and reflects that the  interest of the people searching for the term reached its highest point in the last five years in 2022. 

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The finding indicates UK citizens’ increasing awareness of the urgent need to protect the environment  and support sustainable practices. In this article, the author explores the key factors influencing the rise  of interest in sustainability, its implications, and what it means for the environment.  

A sustainability-driven populace  

The increased interest in sustainability is reflected in the actions of UK citizens. 75% of UK consumers say that reducing plastics is an essential sustainable action for them. This indicates that UK consumers  are increasingly aware of the environmental and social impacts their choices lead to and are willing to  make changes to support sustainable practices. 

The root of the rising concern for sustainability could also be traced to the increasingly environmentally  conscious Gen Z. 

• According to Forbes, 62% of Generation Z prefer to purchase from sustainable brands and  are willing to pay more for ethically produced goods.  

• A survey by Bupa reveals that 63 per cent of Gen Z and millennial respondents report feeling  the burden of climate change, compared to only 37 percent of Gen X and 28 per cent of  baby boomers.  

• According to Pew, 32% of Gen Z respondents have participated in at least one significant  environmental action over the past year.  

• Gen Z even expects sustainability from the companies they work for, with 64% saying that  it’s essential for their employers to act on environmental issues.  

While it’s true that government legislation has significantly impacted environment-friendly  practices, Gen Z’s role remains integral as its purchasing power continues to grow. 

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How businesses can respond and are responding 

The rise in sustainability awareness can drive action and lead to fundamental changes beneficial to the  environment, as evident in the corporate sector. Businesses are increasingly under pressure to become  more sustainable, similar to how AI impacts business practices. 

Nearly a third of the UK's largest businesses have pledged to eliminate their contribution to carbon  emissions by aligning their operations with sustainable goals. These range from financial services to  high-street retailers. 

Two key measures businesses can take in this regard include the following: 

• Communicate a commitment to sustainability  

Businesses should communicate the positive impact of their sustainable practices in terms of the  environment and social responsibility through online content and social media campaigns. 

For instance, in this infographic, AkzoNobel – a Dutch multinational company, brilliantly highlights its  sustainability achievements in the UK through facts and figures:

 

• Implement a sustainability policy  

Many businesses have already adopted sustainability policies, but this is a good place to start for the  ones who haven't. A sustainability policy outlines a company's commitment to sustainable practices by  highlighting its approach toward sustainability, such as working with suppliers with sustainable and  environmentally friendly practices. 

A beacon of light does not mark the end of the dark tunnel  

Sustainability is taking centre stage. But, demanding and taking decisive environment-focused action  requires individuals and the corporate sector to step up simultaneously. 

The UK was the first major economy to create a legally binding target to bring greenhouse gas emissions  to net zero. However, decarbonizing all sectors of the UK economy to meet the net zero target by 2050  will require more vigorous measures. This commitment demonstrates the government's recognition of  the urgent need to tackle climate change and protect the environment. But, a culture of delay shouldn’t  put UK’s environmental goals or its contribution to the global fight that aims to prevent average  temperatures from rising to more than 1.5C by 2030. 

The ban on single-use plastic items, which continue to be phased out, is yet another step in the right  direction, but the war on climate change is far from over. We can see the beacon of light, but it does not  mark the end of the dark tunnel of climate change. 

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Nathan Gray, head of sustainability at  Reconomy – a leading waste management company in the UK
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