90% Of Brits Call Themselves ‘Ethical Consumers’


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90 percent of Brits say they are 'ethical consumers' - but is this true? - Media Credit:

Nine out of 10 Brits describe themselves as ethical consumers, according to a new nationwide poll.

Despite this, the data shows that their actions don’t always match this description when it comes to plastic use and recycling. According to the poll’s results, around 50 percent buy bottled water, one in 20 request plastic straws in bars, and 40 percent throw out plastic takeaway boxes most weekends.

Other environmentally-unfriendly choices made by consumers include using disposable nappies, driving short distances rather than walking, throwing away perfectly wearable clothes, and using carrier bags as bin liners.


More than 80 percent of those who took part in the study of 2,000 Brits by Fourth claimed to be avid recyclers – but 35 percent admitted they put coffee cups in the correct bin, while 16 percent admit to throwing out carrier bags at home.

Additionally, while a staggering 92 percent of respondents said they were ‘frustrated’ with the amount of plastic supermarkets use, 20 percent said fruit and vegetables needed to wrapped in plastic or polystyrene packaging.

More than this – around 33 percent admitted they put loose fruit and veg in plastic bags for hygiene reasons.

Most surprisingly, 15 percent admitted they often throw away items they know could be recycled, to avoid having to wash them out.


It seems awareness around sustainability issues has increased in recent times. More than half (53 percent) said their habits have changed since watching shocking media footage of rubbish washing up on beaches and endangering wildlife.

Government – at a local and national level has also played a role – 48 percent of respondents said their local council had been really pushing their recycling message.

Additionally, nearly half (47 percent) said the introduction of the 5p charge for bags made them more aware of recycling issues

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Despite this, respondents said they often lacked the knowledge to make more ethical choices. One in 10 said they had the best intentions when it comes to choosing environmentally-friendly foods and restaurants – but a massive 50 percent said they would have no idea what a brand’s ethical stance was unless there had been a crisis in the news.

Two thirds (67 percent) claimed they would boycott a brand that lacked an ethical conscience, whether that be evading tax, poor working conditions for staff or their attitude towards environmental issues.

More than a third of respondents said they has already boycotted a brand over their ethical stance in the past, with 16 percent saying they frequently avoid certain brands and corporations for their lack of moral code.

Into practice

Catherine Marshall, Communications Director at Fourth said: “The statistics clearly show that we have become more environmentally aware as a nation, but that we’re struggling to put this into practice.

“Over the past year alone, our business has helped the hospitality industry save tonnes of food waste, but this is just scratching the surface.

“As customers we need to be questioning businesses about their ethical practices and protocol, as there are some great brands out there doing industry-leading work that we all need to get behind.”

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