Around two thirds of consumers are planning to take steps to curb their environmental impact, according to new survey commissioned by WWF

Two major new polls have this week highlighted how growing numbers of consumers are keen to take steps to curb their environmental impact over the festive season, with campaigners arguing that a ‘COP26 effect’ has helped embed greener behaviours over the past month.

WWF has today published the results of new polling commissioned with Opinium Research, which shows that nearly 64 per cent of UK adults who celebrate Christmas will try to be more ‘environmentally friendly’ this year compared to last, with 35 per cent of those polled inspired to act by recent news about the climate and nature crisis.

The poll found that 38 per cent of respondents intend to opt for Christmas gifts that use less packaging, while 30 per cent plan to use energy-saving LED lights on their Christmas trees, and the same proportion are set to purchase FSC certified, recyclable wrapping paper and Christmas cards.

The shift is particularly notable among younger people with seven in ten of those aged 18 to 34 who celebrate Christmas saying they will be trying to be more environmentally friendly this festive season, with nearly half of those polled inspired by recent news.

The trends are set to translate into green New Year resolutions, with 71 per cent of UK adults reporting that they will try to be more environmentally friendly in 2022.

“It’s clear from this data that there’s been a tangible COP26 effect in the UK,” said Kate Norgrove, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF. “Without urgent action, we’re facing a code red for the planet, and the public have heard that message loud and clear. People care and are ready to adjust their habits over the festive season to help tackle the twin threat of climate change and nature loss.”

She added that the government should look to build on this public engagement over the coming year. “The UK Government must show it’s also ready to deliver on its climate and nature promises as it looks towards 2022,” she said. “Committing to a net zero test to ensure government investments align with climate goals, strengthening measures to tackle deforestation and conversion in UK supply chains, and supporting farmers to become stewards of nature would signal that Ministers are prepared to match the public’s appetite for action.”

The new poll came just a day after the results of separate research from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which similarly found that 53 per cent of UK adults who celebrate Christmas think doing so in a more environmentally-friendly way is more important this year. Only a quarter of respondents said they were not changing their behaviour to celebrate in a more environmentally friendly way this year.

The survey of 2,000 adults, which was also carried out by Opinium, found that a sizeable majority of the public do not think businesses are doing enough to curb their environmental impacts over the festive period and beyond.

Nearly two thirds said they wanted companies to be more transparent about the impact Christmas products and services have on the environment, while 82 per cent of consumers think companies use too much packaging.

However, there was also evidence that companies that invest in greener products could be rewarded by consumers, with 45 per cent of respondents saying they are willing to spend more money to have an environmentally-friendly Christmas, rising to 60 per cent for younger consumers aged 18 to 34.

“It’s clear from our research that consumers are increasingly conscious of the impact the festivities and its associated consumerism is having on the planet, and they’re expecting companies to be more transparent about it too,” said Gemma Butler, marketing director and expert in sustainable marketing at CIM. “It’s time for brands to step up and rethink how we can celebrate the magic of Christmas without leaving a mountain of waste behind.”

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