Dutch people struggle with their contribution to a better climate. As many as six out of ten Dutch citizens are concerned about climate change, and a majority of 80 percent believe that we need to live more sustainably to leave the planet in good condition for future generations.
Despite this awareness, Dutch citizens are hesitant to embrace sustainable alternatives when they feel the impact on their wallets. This results in small steps being taken towards integrating sustainability measures into daily life.
These findings, among others, are revealed in the first Sustainability Monitor by ABN AMRO, a quarterly survey conducted by the bank in collaboration with research firm PanelWizard among over a thousand Dutch citizens aged 18 and older. This monitor measures the extent to which citizens incorporate sustainability into their lives and aims to determine what is needed to bring about change in the Dutch consumer. Based on these insights, ABN AMRO provides six recommendations for businesses to positively change consumer perceptions of sustainability.
ABN AMRO suggests that companies should move away from the notion that consumers are willing to live more sustainably out of conviction. “Convenience, price, fun, health, and image are equally important. It is the combination of factors that makes a sustainable product attractive. If consumers have a say, they may even be willing to pay a little more,” says Franka Rolvink Couzy, Head of Sector Research at ABN AMRO. “This explains the struggle of the consumer when transitioning to sustainable alternatives.”
Dutch citizens are currently only taking small steps towards sustainability. They are actively engaged in small changes such as turning off lights in empty rooms, separating waste, and using bicycles for short distances. Additionally, over 80 percent take shorter showers, and 83 percent lower the heating temperature when they can wear a sweater or slippers. However, the majority of respondents are deterred from taking sustainable measures due to the associated costs. This is unfortunate, especially considering that a majority of respondents expect serious problems for future generations resulting from the emissions caused by the current generation, and they are also concerned about this. Once the costs can be recouped in the long term, consumers are more inclined to invest in sustainability.
Sustainability should bring convenience
Larger measures that have a positive environmental impact, such as solar panels, appliance sharing, and car-sharing, are hardly embraced. According to ABN AMRO, a significant reason for this is the inconvenience that comes with sustainable alternatives. For instance, a large majority of Dutch citizens still prefer traveling by plane or car over taking the train. Only 10 percent fully consider sustainability when choosing a vacation destination. “Most people are primarily influenced by the norms of their social environment. If everyone in their friend group has a lease car, there is little demand for car-sharing. When the environment consists mostly of car-sharers, others need good reasons to continue driving their own cars,” says Rolvink Couzy. With our recommendations, we aim to raise awareness among businesses about the possibilities they have to help consumers transition to a sustainable lifestyle.”