Brits change rubbish habits due to…

Brits change rubbish habits due to ‘Attenborough effect’

It was recently reported that a total 27.3 million tonnes of waste was created across the UK, but new research from Hitwise, Britain’s largest online behavioural specialist, reveals the nation is moving in the right direction, with Brit’s ‘plastic recycling’ searches increasing by 55 per cent.(1)

Recent online reactions show the UK is alert to environmental wake up calls. Brit’s searches for ‘climate change’ have more than doubled, with searches for ‘carbon footprint calculator’ found to increase 70% throughout 2017, showing our determination to go green.(3)

Similarly, Blue Planet II’s ‘Attenborough effect’ shook the country into acknowledging humanity’s self-inflicted environmental challenges. Following the series’ heart-wrenching finale and being officially named the UK’s ‘Best TV Show’, the number of people searching for the dangers of plastic in our oceans doubled(4) . There was also remarkable growth in charity interest and engagement following: a 288% increase in visits to; the Marine Conservation Society saw a 169% jump; and a 35% increase in visits to Plastic Oceans Foundation.(6)

In response and alongside the recent Latte Levy, there was a near 300% (291%) increase in people searching for the reusable Keep Cups(3). Starbuck’s this week have begun trials to charge 5p for disposable cups in a bid to “remind customers to rethink their use of single-use plastic-lined cups, as it has with plastic bags”. Competitor Pret a Manger, is also trailing a plastic bottle deposit return scheme.

The number of people searching for WWF also increased 51 per cent either side of the first Blue Planet episode(4) – Luke Upchurch, WWF Head of Communications and Digital, reacts:

“The results for us were impressive…some of the best social media engagement figures we’ve ever seen, and a significant increase in new WWF members during and after each episode. We saw Blue Planet II as a fantastic opportunity to engage the public on conservation issues. For us, this is yet further evidence that the UK public care immensely about our planet, and, when presented with easy and inspiring ways in which the can help, are very keen to play their part in protecting our oceans.”

It’s undoubted we are inching closer to the country’s target to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020, with Blackpool and Cambridge leading the way and found to be the two most engaged regions in ocean issues. The Hitwise data also identified Wales as the ‘greenest’ area in the UK, closely followed by the South West. London was one of the least green, whilst Northern Ireland came bottom.(7)

People are also adopting a more conscious attitude to energy consumption, while changing environmental attitudes are affecting how consumers behave in the home. Intent to live in a ‘greener’ home is clear from the radical increase in related searches, such as:

  • Hue lightbulbs (1234% YoY)
  • Smart meter (241%) (7)
  • Energenie products (122%) (7)
  • Hive (72% YoY) and Nest (66% YoY) products .


To learn more, download our Green Living report today.

Reference Key
(1) 4 rolling weeks ending 23/12/2017
(2) Two weeks ending 14/01/2017
(3) First two weeks of Jan 17 compared to the first two weeks of Jan 18 (w/e 14/01/17 – w/e 13/01/18)
(4) 7 weeks before vs. 7 weeks after w/e 28/10/2017
(5) Jan 2015-Dec 2017
(6) 4 rolling weeks ending 16/12/2017
(7) 4 rolling weeks ending 13/01/2018

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