The Dutch want to live sustainably, but still have a good time

Press release -

The Dutch are struggling with how to contribute to a better climate. No fewer than six in ten Dutch people are concerned about climate change and 80 per cent believe we should live more sustainably to leave the planet a better place for future generations. But despite this awareness, they are reluctant to opt for sustainable alternatives if that means paying out of their own pocket. And so they take small steps when it comes to integrating sustainable solutions in their daily lives.

All this and more was revealed by ABN AMRO’s first Sustainability Monitor, a survey that will be held every quarter among more than a thousand people aged 18 and above in the Netherlands. The Monitor is conducted by the bank and research agency PanelWizard. It measures the degree to which the Dutch incorporate sustainability into their lives in order to determine what is needed to bring about change among Dutch consumers. Based on the insights gained, ABN AMRO has put forward six recommendations for businesses in an effort to positively impact consumers’ perception of sustainability.

ABN AMRO says businesses should discard the idea that consumers are prepared to live more sustainably purely out of conviction. “Convenience, price, fun, health and image are at least as important. It’s a combination of factors that makes a sustainable product attractive. This may mean, for example, that consumers are even prepared to pay more,” says Franka Rolvink Couzy, head of Sector Research at ABN AMRO. “And it explains why they are struggling with the transition to sustainable alternatives.”

The Dutch are only taking small steps towards sustainability

The Dutch are keen to save the environment when it comes to making small changes, such as switching off the light when leaving a room, separating waste and taking the bike for short distances. More than 80 per cent take short showers and 83 per cent turn the heating down a degree or two if they can put on a sweater and warm slippers. But a large majority of the respondents are not prepared to take sustainable measures if this costs them money. That’s a shame, especially as most of them expect that the next generation will face serious problems because of the emissions they – today’s generation – produce, and it worries them too. We also see that if the costs can be recouped over time, consumers are more inclined to invest in sustainability.

Sustainability? Only if it makes life easier

The Dutch are little inclined to embrace more far-reaching measures that have a positive impact on the environment, such as solar panels, renting or sharing appliances or car sharing. An important reason for this, according to ABN AMRO, is that sustainable alternatives are often less convenient. And that’s why a large majority of Dutch people still prefer to travel by plane or by car rather than by train. A mere 10 per cent take sustainability into account when deciding where to go on holiday. “Most people are influenced by what is customary in their community. If everyone in your circle of friends has a lease car, you’re less likely to want to opt for car sharing. Conversely, if car sharing is the norm among your friends, you’ve got to have very good reasons to continue driving a car of your own,” Rolvink Couzy explains. “We want our recommendations to raise awareness among businesses of the possibilities there are to help consumers transition to a more sustainable lifestyle.”

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