Sustainability Monitor: consumers want government and business to blaze the trail

Press release -

People in the Netherlands believe they can play an important role in making society more sustainable, especially in matters relating to food, clothing and recreation. When it comes to mobility, energy and housing they expect the government to take the lead. A large majority feel that business and government should be trailblazers in these areas.

This and more was the outcome of the second Sustainability Monitor, a quarterly survey held by ABN AMRO and PanelWizard among more than a thousand people in the Netherlands. The monitor measures the extent to which the Dutch incorporate sustainability into their own lives in order to find out what’s needed to encourage consumers to change their habits. This past quarter, consumers in the Netherlands gave the sustainability performance of their own lifestyles a score of 6.4, down somewhat from 6.6 in the first quarter of 2019.

Origin and sustainability of food products not always clear

About one in three Dutch consumers feel they should personally contribute to improving the sustainability of food. They throw away as little food as possible (60 per cent), where possible they buy vegetables and fruit that are in season (30 per cent) and they’ve made a conscious choice not to eat meat (27 per cent). At the same time, about 20 per cent believe that companies should ensure that the transition to sustainable food is accelerated, bearing in mind that food chains are complex, that it’s not always clear where the ingredients are sourced and how sustainable certain products are. In matters relating to clothing, over 60 per cent of consumers said they wear their clothes for as long as possible or give their wardrobe a second lease on life by selling, exchanging or donating clothing  to charity. But here, too, they feel business should share responsibility for making the textiles industry more sustainable. Fashion labels, for example, could improve processes in production countries by teaming up with producers, government and NGOs.

Government should facilitate sustainable living, working and travel

One in four Dutch consumers see it as their personal responsibility to travel more sustainably. For one third of these people, sustainability was the main consideration when deciding where to spend their holidays and 28 per cent look at eco-friendliness when booking a place to stay. Price and speed are important when making travel choices. “When it comes to the sustainability of housing, energy and transport, consumers expect the government to take the lead”, says Jan Raes, Sustainability Advisor at ABN AMRO. “This is hardly surprising as it’s in these areas that the government can get things done – for example, through tax incentives or by investing in infrastructure. And yet we see that many consumers are trying their best to live and travel more sustainably, for example, by opting for double-glazing, travelling by bike where possible, or by taking shorter showers. The monitor  also shows that consumers have different views as to who should assume greatest responsibility for making society more sustainable. We see it as a shared responsibility to which everyone can contribute.”

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