Sustainability behaviors, expectations and tools worldwide

Part
01
of four
Part
01

Sustainability- Demographic Profile

Men are more interested in sustainability than women. Overall, people aged 18-34 and belonging to low- and mid-level income ranged are the most interested in participating in sustainability efforts.

NETHERLANDS

  • Women (49.5%) were less convinced sustainers compared to men (50.5), who were more inclined towards sustainability.
  • For age, there is a large group (33.6%) of older (age 55–70) respondents in the "Convinced Sustainers" segment.
  • 21.6% of people interested in sustainability belonged to a lower income level, and there was 45% from the middle income level.

INDIA

  • 55.6% of respondents interested in sustainability were male and 44.4% female.
  • The majority, 53.9% and 32.7%, exist in the age groups of 18–24 and 25–34, respectively.
  • Income wise, the data shows that (37.3% and 32%) respondents were in the low income group of below INR 25,000 [$364] and INR 25,001–50,000 [$364- $729].

USA

  • Nearly 60% of women are more sustainable and are much more likely to make eco-friendly products and services a priority.
  • When comparing the ages of those who prefer eco-friendly products, Americans are fairly evenly split between different age groups.
  • Millennials are the only generation more likely to say they prioritize environmentally friendly products (29%)
  • Even though eco-friendly products are known to sometimes be more expensive, 46% of people who say they prioritize eco-friendly products make less than $50,000 in household income.

GENERAL DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF THOSE INTERESTED IN SUSTAINABILITY

  • Two out of the three countries researched had men slightly more interested in sustainability than women. However, in the USA, women are more heavily interested in sustainability than men.
  • 18-34 was the common age found where people would be interested in participating in sustainability efforts.
  • Based on the three countries compared, it was found that low- and mid-level income earners are the most likely be interested in sustainability around the world.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

While we were able to find data on three countries Netherlands, India and the USA, we were unable to find general global demographics of people interested in participating in sustainability efforts. Hence, we used the data from three identified countries to summarize general demographics based on the common points identified. We also found a paid report from Nielsen, which included general data on many other countries; it is unfortunately behind a paywall.
Part
02
of four
Part
02

Sustainability-Common Measures and Obstacles

Recent surveys show that the most common measures individuals around the world are taking to increase their sustainability are increasing the number of eco-friendly products they buy, implementing/demanding sustainability practices in the workplace, and making efforts to reduce their personal impact on the environment by creating more eco-friendly homes. The most common obstacles for individuals trying to improve their sustainability are a lack of transparencies regarding the environmental impact of specific products (particularly chemical products), the costs associated with eco-friendly products, and the availability of products in the market that are truly eco-friendly.

COMMON SUSTAINABILITY PRACTICES

Buying more eco-friendly products:

  • A survey of 6,000 respondents in North America, Europe and Asia in 2019 found that consumers are increasing the number of eco-friendly products that they buy.
  • 72% of respondents said they are now 'actively buying more' eco-friendly products compared to five years ago.
  • 81% of respondents said they intended to increase the number of eco-friendly products they buy in the coming five years.

Employing sustainability practices in the workplace:

  • In a global survey of 20,000 participants, it was revealed that implementing sustainability in the workplace is of key importance to workers.
  • 61% "believe sustainability is mandatory for businesses".
  • 56% feel that the environmental impact of the workplace is as important as diversity and inclusion.
  • 46% said they only work for companies that employ sustainable business practices.

Creating more eco-friendly homes:

  • A global survey of nearly 15,000 respondents across 15 countries revealed that individuals are working towards making their homes greener.
  • 70% of respondents said they make an effort to have a personally low impact on the environment and 51% have made some sort of physical changes to their home in an effort to align with this ideology.
  • Both homeowners and home renters share similar attitudes towards making their homes more green.
  • In Europe specifically, 53% of individuals in a survey said that they look for energy-efficient features when selecting a new home (including rentals).

COMMON SUSTAINABILITY OBSTACLES

Lack of transparency on how chemical products affect the environment:

  • A survey of 6,000 respondents in North America, Europe and Asia in 2019 found that consumers feel chemical companies do not provide sufficient communication to consumers about the eco-impact of their products.
  • 72% of survey respondents said they were "not very confident or not confident at all" when it comes to understanding how certain chemical products affect the environment.
  • The chemical industry was ranked the lowest when it comes to communicating the eco-impact of their products.
  • Across nine industries analyzed, 26% of consumers feel the chemical industry is the "least worried about its environmental impact."
  • In alignment with this, a separate survey of nearly 15,000 respondents found that a lack of knowledge was a key issue preventing consumers from living a more green lifestyle (26%).

The costs associated with eco-friendly items:

  • A survey of 1,600 respondents across Europe, Asia and Russia found that cost is a main barrier for consumers to implement eco-friendly practices.
  • Cost was reported by 65.5% of survey respondents as "the major impediment to sustainable consumption".
  • In a different survey of nearly 15,000 individuals, among respondents who said they could be doing more to increase the sustainability of their living situation, 47% said a lack of funds was preventing them from doing so.

Availability of eco-friendly products:

  • A survey of 1,600 respondents across Europe, Asia and Russia found that issues regarding the availability of eco-friendly products is a key obstacle for those wanting to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
  • 63.9% of respondents noted that hunting for eco-friendly goods is time-consuming.
  • 45.2% are hindered by the obstacle of an abundance of 'pseudo-environmentally friendly products' in the market.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

The insights contained in this report were taken from large, international surveys that asked participants about their sustainability/eco-friendly/green living habits, as well as the obstacles they face in attempting to live more eco-friendly lifestyles. These surveys were particularly useful as they collectively surveyed tens of thousands of people from many countries and regions around the world. In selecting that practices and obstacles that are the 'most common' we focused on those that were being reported by the majority of survey respondents (i.e. more than half) as well as those that the surveys reported as being the most commonly reported answers.
Part
03
of four
Part
03

Sustainability-Goals

Stopping the usage of paper bank statements, using shorter showers to conserve water, and bringing your own bag (BYOB) when shopping are the most common individual sustainability goals. Those have been majorly implemented in countries like the United States, China and India.

GOAL #1: Stopping paper bank statements and paying the bills online or via mobile

DESCRIPTION
  • Going paperless offers dual benefits, it offers the opportunity to save money and reduce the environmental footprint at the same time.
  • If only 20% of U.S. households commit to online bill payments and enrolled in paperless billing and banking, the collective environmental impact will include saving 1.8 million trees per year, eliminating 2 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, decreasing the consumption of gasoline by 102.4 million gallons, and decreasing the use of paper by 151 million pounds.
3 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES OR REGION:
  • Individuals from India, China, and the United States have been seen implementing this sustainability goal.
SIMILARITIES:
  • Paytm wallet is India’s largest mobile payment service platform, with over 150 million wallets and 75 million Android-based app downloads in 2016.
  • According to Safaricom, M-Pesa has 21.8 million registered users in Kenya making payments person-to-person (KSh 106 billion), person-to-business (KSh 23.5 billion), and business-to-person (KSh 27.8 billion) per month. M-Pesa contributes 60% to the country’s GDP.[3]
  • Alipay has the biggest market share in China with 400 million users. As of 2016, it controlled just under half of China’s online payment market.
  • 65% people in the US pay bills through a mobile phone web browser or app whereas 53% of smartphone owners with a bank account used mobile banking between March 2015 – 2016.
  • Various banks like the Bank of America, TD Bank, and Lloyds Bank London are promoting paperless statements and the use of mobile and online banking.
DIFFERENCES:
  • As all the countries are part of the United Nations [27], there are no differences in the goals and focus on achieving it similarly as seen above.
POPULARITY OR NUMBER OF PEOPLE:
  • According to ACI Worldwide and research firm Aite Group, “56% of all bills are paid online today and that most consumers paying online do so via billers’ websites rather than via financial institution bill pay or third-party bill pay sites. Millennials and Gen Xers pay the largest proportion of their bills online (61% and 60%, respectively), the study added.”
  • The share of online payments grew from 62% in 2010 to 73% in 2016; bank bill pay, on the other hand, shrank from 38% in 2010 to 27% in 2016.

GOAL #2: Shorter showers to conserve water

DESCRIPTION:
  • The average shower head uses 2.5 gallons of water every minute. 1.2 trillion gallons of water per year are used for showering in the US.
  • Taking shorter showers will reduce the amount of water used in daily showers and will help conserve water and electricity. The EPA also recommends shower heads of 2.5 gal/min or lower flat head showers.
  • Reducing shower time by 2 minutes can cut the water use by 10 gallons.
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES OR REGION:
SIMILARITIES:
  • Lower shower heads are also recommended in India because of their potential to reduce water usage.
  • Cutting down a person's shower time to five minutes and installing water-saving showerheads can cut down 80% of water usage and reduce energy consumption.
  • China also focuses on saving water by promoting that spending one minute less in the shower and using a water saving head can save 1,500 gallons a month.
  • According to Take Care of Texas, showering accounts for about 17% of residential indoor water use, which means that shortening shower time to five minutes can save 12.5 gallons of water each time.
DIFFERENCES:
  • As all the countries are part of the United Nations, there are no differences in the goals or their focus.
POPULARITY OR NUMBER OF PEOPLE:
  • Various Water Conservation Campaigns across the world show the popularity of the goal. Those include Colgate's #EveryDropCounts, Charity: Water — Water Changes Everything, Sunlight Saves Water Campaign 2016 and 2017, Knorr — Eat Less Water, World Vision — The Zambia Project, GOOD Magazine — Drinking Water, GOOD Magazine — Water Conservation, Hound Studio, End Water Poverty, WaterAid, Shock Top Beer — Shock The Drought, Charitywater — I am Water, Sakshi: taking the clean India mission into her own hands, and UNICEF — Tap Project.
  • According to the EPA, if every home in the United States installed WaterSense-labeled showerheads, it could save more than 260 billion gallons of water annually, which would lead to saving $2.9 billion in water utility bills and $2.5 billion in energy costs.

GOAL #3: Bringing your own bag (BYOB) when shopping

DESCRIPTION:
  • Bring your own bag (BYOB) when shopping helps save plastic bags from going to landfill waste, which increases the usage of reusable totes.
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES OR REGION:
SIMILARITIES:
  • The United States uses about 100 billion plastic bags per year, with the average person using between 350 and 500 bags. If every person in New York City used one less grocery bag, it would cut the waste by 5 million pounds and save $250,000 in disposal costs, which is why the government is pushing towards promoting the usage of reusable bags.
  • The Bring Your Own Bag, Say No to Plastic Bags in Kenya since August 2017 has been successful in cleaning the country and reducing waste, which was followed by other east African nations like Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan.
  • In China a ban on thin plastic bags and use of BYOB has led to a 60-80% reduction in their use in supermarkets.
  • China is also promoting BYOBs as a part of their “breaking up with single-use plastics” plan to minimize plastic use and hence reduce waste.
  • India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) enforced a ban on plastic use and promotes Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) under the campaign to reduce their plastic waste.
DIFFERENCES:
  • Stores like Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Ralphs, Lowes Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market, and Foodland in the US reward shoppers who bring their own bags to the store in order to reduce waste and the usage of plastic bags.
  • Whereas, the brands in India are charging customers for better quality carry bags instead of plastic ones. Although this action has been seriously criticized, the eco-friendly bags are seen as an additional overhead cost for the company.
POPULARITY OR NUMBER OF PEOPLE:
  • BYOB has saved 12,500,000,000 plastic bags from landfill waste.
  • 75% of the top 100 groceries, pharmacies, and retail banners across North America use BYOBs.


Part
04
of four
Part
04

Sustainability-Apps and Websites

The most commonly used apps or websites for sustainability efforts are Olio, Depop, Recycle Bank, and Joulebug. Below is an overview of the findings.

OLIO — APP

Numbers

  • This app has 1,154,000 users.
  • It had 190,024 downloads over the last 30 days and a monthly download growth rate of -6,06%.
  • The portions of food shared have been 1,813,453 in total.
  • Food has been shared in 49 countries.

Overview

  • It was founded in the U.K. in 2015 by Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One.
  • Olio is a food-sharing app, "that connects neighbors with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away."
  • While the majority of similar apps focus on business, this app's focus is on user-to-user donations.
  • To share food, the user adds a photo, a description, and when and where the item is available. Other users then browse the listings available, make a request, and arrange a pick-up via private messaging.
  • The users are rated to ensure safety.
  • Olio generates revenues by charging businesses for the service it provides via its Food Waste Heroes Programme that enables them to have zero edible food waste stores and it is free for users.
  • Olio raised $8.2 million as of 2018.

DEPOP — APP

Numbers

  • The number of registered users is 13 million of which 5 million are in the US.
  • The percentage of users under the age of 26 is 90%.
  • Depop has users in 147 countries.
  • The number of downloads in the last 30 days was 537,407 (-1,8% growth).
  • It has 420,000 followers on Instagram, 165,000 followers on Twitter, and 58,000 followers on Facebook.

Overview


RECYCLEBANK — WEBSITE/APP

Numbers

  • The average number of visitors in 2019 was 600,000/month.
  • It ranked 113 on the Food and Drink > Groceries category.
  • The percentage of visits from the U.S. is 93.15%.
  • The percentage from "search" is 26.08%.
  • The estimated revenue is 13.8 million.

Overview

  • RecycleBank uses a reward system to encourage people to recycle and to learn more about sustainable lifestyles.
  • People can earn points by recycling if they are from cities (or waste hauler) that are partners with the site.
  • It also grants points to those who spend time on its website or app learning how to lead a more sustainable life.
  • The points can be exchanged for rewards, such as local deals, donations, savings on sustainably made goods, and magazine subscriptions.
  • It is most popular in the U.S.

JOULEBUG — APP

Numbers


Overview


RESEARCH STRATEGY

We started our research by looking for publicly-available compilations about sustainability apps/websites ranked by the number of users. We searched several databases and industry reports; however, our efforts were not successful.

Next, we looked for articles with recommended sites and apps for a sustainable lifestyle. With this strategy, we found several sources but none that mentioned the number of users. To answer the question and uncover which app had the most users, we cross-referenced the apps that were recommended by more than one list with different apps and websites databases.

Since the request asked for apps/websites for adopting and/or tracking sustainability efforts for individuals, this was a rather broad research, as sustainability efforts can be anything from buying second-hand clothes to recycling or carpooling, just to name a few. We excluded apps like Blablacar because, even though carpooling can be categorized as a “sustainability effort”, neither the app nor its users mention that it a very important factor when they choose to use it very often. The same cannot be said by Depop, that uses sustainability as a brand, and it is mentioned by credible sources as an important step into the sustainable lifestyle.

Sources
Sources

From Part 03
From Part 04
Quotes
  • "OLIO is an app designed to combat food waste, so whether your neighbour or a local business is trying to get rid of perfectly ripe tomatoes, these can easily land on your plate just in time for your next meal. "
  • "JouleBug makes it easy for you to implement more sustainable habits into your everyday life with tips and a social network to connect with a likeminded community. As if that wasn't enough, you’re awarded points with each positive action that correlates to the impact its had on your wallet and environment. "
Quotes
  • " Businesses who donate food pay a fee; the food is collected by 2700 trained volunteers, who OLIO calls Food Waste Heroes. Volunteers can keep 10% of the food. "
Quotes
  • "Olio is a food-sharing app that aims to connect neighbors and community members who have excess food to in-need individuals—all quickly and easily through their phones."
Quotes
  • " And, best of all, it also encourages a re-use and re-cycle philosophy"
Quotes
  • "Fashion is cyclical. Younger generations are embracing vintage fashion and environmentally friendly clothes - in a new way"
Quotes
  • "“It's always been important,” says Raga of sustainability. “But no one wanted to get into it because there was a big stigma around second-hand.”"
  • "“My dream is to see sustainable fashion and trends that are democratized as opposed to guided by two or three creative directors,” says Raga."