A recent survey has revealed that a large portion of the population in the UK has a limited understanding of key terminology related to climate.
According to the results of a survey, the British population lacks a sufficient understanding of the language used to discuss the climate crisis and environmental strategies for waste reduction.
A mere 25% of individuals surveyed comprehended the concept of “green,” and approximately the same percentage could correctly define “sustainable” as producing something with minimal impact on the environment.
According to a recent report by Trajectory and Fleet Street, commonly used business terms like “environmentally friendly” and “locally grown” are not fully understood by the majority of individuals. The study, which was published on Wednesday, reveals insights into this issue.
The government’s efforts to decrease waste were not well comprehended. Following the implementation of a ban on disposable plastic cutlery and plates, only 47% of consumers were able to accurately define “single-use plastics” – plastic items that are used once and then disposed of.
According to Mark Stretton, one of the creators of Fleet Street, the findings indicate a need for greater efforts in involving customers in understanding the efforts made by businesses to achieve net zero goals, increase sustainability, and minimize waste. Stretton believes that action must be taken to connect with consumers, beginning with the language used, as much of it may not hold much significance for them.
The fact that many brands and businesses do not fully understand terms that are commonly used, like “net zero” and “environmentally friendly”, is surprising and shows a disconnect between them and consumers.
He stated that numerous companies were making significant investments in sustainability and aiming for ambitious goals. However, there is a crucial aspect that is still lacking – there is a great deal of work to be done on the language being used. The more consumers comprehend, the more inclined they will be to actively participate and respond to what is undeniably a huge, long-term issue.
Research shows that individuals in the 18-24 age range have a higher level of confidence in comprehending important concepts related to climate and environmental policy. Specifically, 24% more people in this age group were able to correctly define the term “sustainability” compared to those over the age of 65.
Individuals with advanced education were more confident in their grasp of important concepts. For instance, the term “circular economy” – which refers to an economic system that minimizes waste and carbon emissions by reusing resources – was comprehended by 11% more individuals with a university degree or higher, compared to those who had only completed secondary school. Furthermore, the term was understood by 30% more individuals currently in formal education, indicating a higher level of understanding among students today compared to previous generations who had completed their education after secondary school.
Although there may be confusion surrounding certain terms, the research indicates widespread backing for the topics: 90% of consumers believe it is crucial for businesses and brands to discuss their efforts towards sustainability, and 68% of those surveyed said they would be inclined to purchase from a company with a well-defined environmental plan.
Nearly half of consumers, or 47%, held brands accountable for taking action on the climate crisis.
Jamie Peters, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, stated that there is a growing emphasis on the issue of climate change. It is the responsibility of environmental groups, such as ours, to effectively communicate using simple and understandable language to promote a united understanding of the pressing nature of the climate and environmental crises, as well as the necessary solutions to address them.
It is concerning that oil and gas companies, as well as our government, are using terms like ‘green’, ‘sustainable’, and ‘net zero’ to describe oil, coal, and gas. This indicates a manipulation and misuse of these terms. The fossil fuel industry has dedicated teams and departments that use environmental buzzwords to cover up their actions. We will continue to expose this and advocate for the many individuals who are genuinely trying to protect the environment.
According to Paul Flatters, the CEO of Trajectory, the data shows a strong connection between consumer comprehension and their overall perception of a certain term. This means that brands have a responsibility to adequately inform consumers in order to increase awareness and understanding of important climate-related terms among the general population.
The study included both focus groups and a survey conducted online, with a sample of 1,000 adults from the UK chosen to represent the nation.