Thursday, August 7, 2008

Credit crunch causing a green-slip in the sustainability agenda?

Over here in the UK there has been increasing evidence that the credit crunch is causing green issues to slip down both the political agenda and personal values. Luckily, it is still up there on the corporate social responsibility front, as sustainability has become a key factor in recruitment.

I’m really interested to understand whether you are feeling the same impacts in the US? I have summarised the UK evidence here:

  • According to MORI, 15 per cent of those polled last year put the environment in their top three concerns. That figure has dropped by a third to 10 per cent this month. Now people they put crime, the economy and rising prices at the top of their list.
  • According to research company Populus: “There is a direct correlation between how people perceive the economy and the importance they place on the environment. When times are tough people resent paying more to salve their conscience.”
  • This means that fewer people are now buying organic food from the supermarkets and more are buying cheap non-ethically produced clothing. For instance, according to the consultancy Organic Monitor, demand for organic food grew by 70 per cent from 2002 to 2007; now it has stalled.
  • Green policies coming out of the government have now taken a back-seat to make room for discuss of tax-relief for those buying homes and a one-off tax levy on energy companies.

However, there is a counter argument to this:

  • Energy prices in the UK are rising massively. It was reported last month, that due to the rise in oil price, UK consumers may face a fuel price increase of up to 40 per cent in 2008.
    Leading market analysts have suggested that, in order to maintain profitability, energy companies may create a series of price hikes. This would result in an increase in the UK's average energy bills from £1,048 to £1,467 within seven months.
  • The rise in energy prices is leading making people focus on cut costs, which has the incidental effect of being better for the environment. By taking energy-saving measures in the home, such as investing in better insulation, being more economical with the use heating and air con and being more aware of the use and efficiency of electrical and gas appliances.
  • Fewer people are moving home in the current economic climate, and my therefore be more inclined to invest in their existing properties. Home improvements and extensions are becoming very popular in the UK, which may again incorporate energy-efficiency measures.
  • Also, as fewer people move house fewer new white-goods, such as fridges and washing machines are being bought.
  • With the rising cost of petrol and diesel more people are investing in hybrid or electric vehicles.
  • The trend for people growing their own has risen sharply, in London the waiting list for allotments is three times longer than the actual number of allotments there are!

As The Times commented today, it is ironic that “it's the downturn that has made greenery look unappetising - but it may yet prove to do more than anything to save the planet.”


Greenette said...

Green London, what are allotments - are these urban farm plots?

Green London said...

Oh sorry everyone, I thought 'allotment' was a universal word!

Allotments are small plots of land available to rent from the local council. The council usually owns a green space that is divided up into many allotments all used by different people. Usually allotments are in cities or towns or near council (state) housing, designed mainly for people who either have small or no gardens.

Usually people use allotments to grow fruit and vegetables. Allotments used to be the premise of old age pensioners and those in social housing, but now that growing your own food has become so trendy over here, more and more young people and middle-class families are wanting them.

Try typing in 'allotment' to Google Images so you can get a visual image of what I'm describing!

Hope that helps!

Dagny said...

Even in the US finding ways to cut costs takes precedence over environmental concerns. People do quickly go back to non-organic foods when the money is tight. It's hard to instill a sense that organic is a lifestyle choice, not a trend.

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Juicy Couture For Sale said...

These bags are created with natural materials and you will carry them around not just in the beach but in your summer time picnics as well as towards the tiffany and co supermarket.

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