Fewer Canadians think their actions will help the planet

Mintel's survey also found a dip in how much consumers want to hear about greenwashed efforts.

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Canadians are less optimistic than they were last year about whether their behaviours can make a difference to the environment, which comes alongside more skepticism about “greenwashing” from brands.

That’s according to the 2022 edition of Mintel’s Sustainability Barometer polled 16,000 consumers online in April, spanning 16 countries, including Canada.

When compared to the 2021 edition of the survey, Canadians had the biggest slump when it comes to whether their behaviour can make a positive difference to the environment: an 8 point drop-off from 65% who agreed in 2021 to 57% in 2022. This topped diminishing U.K. sentiment, which slumped 5 points over the same period.

Also, 55% of Canadian consumers agreed that, if we act now, we still have time to save the planet, compared with 63% in 2021.

While this may suggest a shift away from sustainability being a key factor in consumers minds, it is more likely the result of growing consumer education and awareness of the impact their own actions have on the environment, and a desire to see bigger polluters – namely, large corporations and industries – carry a more appropriate amount of the weight of climate change.

Year-over-year, there is diminished appetite for brands touting their green bona fides, such as B Corp status (down 6%), carbon emissions (down 7%), talking about the environmental impact of a purchase (down 7%) and “product labelling and/or advertising measuring impact with quantities I can understand” (down 8%).

Again, this is not a result of sustainability being less of a priority; rather, it’s because more educated consumers are able to, as Mintel describes, “sniff out” greenwashing campaigns.

Mintel also devised an “Engagement Score” based on consumers’ sense of impact, belief in their country contributing to climate change and political attitudes. An additional “Action Score” is based on select sustainable behaviours over the past year with deductions made for things like eating meat regularly or taking two or more flights in the past year.

Canada was in the middle of the pack, scoring 47% in Engagement and 21% in Action Score. For Engagement and Action, only five countries out of 16 scored lower than Canada for both.

The Mintel data reveals that the proportion of consumers classified as carnivores (eating meat “at most meals/on most days”) fell five percentage points in the past 12 months. However, Brazil, Canada, Australia and France remained predominately carnivorous, with over 40% of their populations in this bracket.

 

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