AIB Sustainability Index: Covid impact resulting in consumers making more sustainable decisions

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AIB along with Amarach Research completed a unique research project to build a way to track the societal trends regarding climate and environmental sustainability in Ireland. As a part of our ‘Pledge To Do More’ we needed to understand how people are thinking, feeling and behaving on the subject.

AIB Sustainability Index

It was really heartening to see that the index score of 66 out of 100 in June 2020 held from the 66 in Nov 2019, which was of course pre covid. A score of 100 means we are living as sustainably as we can and 0 means we are not living sustainably at all. The steady index means that the subject of sustainability was still important to Ireland and its people. Women scored a little higher at 69 with men coming in at 63. It was also surprising to us that those over the age of 55 had a higher score than those under the age of 35.

Research Findings

Apart from the index in the research we really delved deeper into the attitudes, intentions and behaviours on the subject. 76% of all adults stated that sustainability is ‘important for Ireland right now’, and 75% felt personally responsible for living sustainably. When we looked at how they are currently behaving 41% of people stated that they feel they are living sustainably. The barriers that are holding them back are the financial cost of big changes, confusion about all the options and not being sure the benefits of the change outweigh the costs.

Impact of Covid on Sustainability

This is where we were most surprised at the findings, we, like many, would have thought that people might think it less important as they were rightly more concerned with Covid 19 and its impact on our lives, families, communities and the economy. It turns out it’s the opposite, 54% said that sustainability has become more important since the start of Covid and only 2% said that sustainably was less important. This really came though when we found that apart from traveling less, 41% of people were behaving more sustainably since the start of covid and only 8% behaving less so. 

26% of the population are now working from home as a result of covid and of those 80% would like some form of the change to continue. Only 15% said they would like to go back to the office as it was before, and 14% want to only go to the office only if it’s necessary.

When we asked about the benefits of working from home there were some really strong results. 88% of people think it could be better for the environment if those currently working from home continued to do so. 72% agree that it would be better for family life if people could continue and even 77% saying that it would be better for employers.

How some lifestyle patterns have changed during lockdown

53% of people are currently attempting to reduce food waste and 95% of those expect they will continue to do so after lockdown. This bodes well for charities like FoodCloud who are looking to reduce food waste in Ireland, AIB support them in this cause as one of our charity partners. Also the trend of DIY with everyone stuck at home meant 53% of people did some work on their home. It was also heartening to see 46% of people said they would mend and make do, and 68% of these people will continue this behaviour. This fits really neatly into the reuse and recycle model of the 3R’s.

We also see 27% of people looking to grow their own food, and 56% of people are home cooking more. AIB along with GIY are looking at ways we can help people take advantage of more time at home to grow their own. 45% of people are also using bikes and walking to get where they need to go and a whopping 78% said they would continue doing this.

We also asked where banks fit into the fight against climate change, 59% of all adults think the banks are important in this fight and we at AIB Pledge To Do More.