What REALLY makes sustainable habits stick

Written by Lori Campbell on 12th Jan 2022

Brits take an average of just 13 days to abandon new sustainable habits – with “meat-free days” being the first to go, new research reveals.

Using eco-friendly products is a lifestyle change people keep up for the longest, but even that starts to fade after 15 days. Measures such as using the food waste bin, using eco settings in the home, and only boiling the water required, last for just two weeks.

More than half of people say they falter as they fail to see positive changes following their actions, while a similar number feel disheartened because it seems no matter what they do, the climate emergency isn’t improving.

The study was commissioned by Utilita Energy as part of its “Planet Pledge” campaign, which encourages people to stick with a change for 66 days – the time it takes, according to psychologists, for it to become a habit.

So, what DOES it take for us to truly commit to changing our lifestyles to help climate change? 

New research from Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB) reveals that while individuals may want to implement change to help the planet, the Government, the media and banks are the most important influencers in whether we actually do.

Government initiatives such as the Green Homes Grant (24 per cent), scientific reports and warnings (23 per cent), and government legislation such as the plastic bag tax (22 per cent) top the list in first, second and third place respectively.

The latest TV shows, films and documentaries are also having an impact for one in five (21 per cent), followed by family and friends (18 per cent) and news reports (17 per cent).

Banks offering green products such as green mortgages (12 per cent), as well as financial institutions and lenders imposing fees or charges (9 per cent) is also having an effect.

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Brian Murphy, Head of Lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, said: “There’s never been such an important time for us to come together to fight climate change and do what we can to help our planet.

“Whether that’s making changes to our day-to-day behaviour such as recycling more, ensuring our homes are as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible or through how we handle our finances. All of these things can make a real difference and whilst the interest from consumers is there, we need to ensure that this actually converts into real change.”

Key influencers revealed:

  1. Government initiatives (i.e. Green Homes Grant) – 24 per cent
  2. Scientific reports/warnings – 23 per cent
  3. Government legislation (i.e. the plastic bag tax) – 22 per cent
  4. Documentaries/TV/Films – 21 per cent
  5. Family and friends – 18 per cent
  6. News reports – 17 per cent
  7. A natural disaster – 13 per cent
  8. Charities and initiates (i.e. Greenpeace) – 12 per cent
  9. Banks offering green products (i.e. green mortgages) – 12 per cent
  10. Global conferences and summits (i.e. COP26) – 11 per cent
  11. Financial institutions/lenders imposing fees or charges – 9 per cent
  12. Influencers, celebrities, and activists (i.e. Greta Thunberg) – 8 per cent
  13. Protests (i.e. Insulate Britain) – 7 per cent

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