Perkbox Insights research has found that 89 per cent of adults experience ‘green guilt’ and that this occurs most commonly at work. The company define this as a phenomenon stemming from the extensive environmental consequences of modern life, which brings moments when you know you could, and should, be doing more to help the planet. A further 47 per cent have felt judged by others for not acting sustainably enough.
The study found 61 per cent of adults feel guilty for the environmental impact of the industry or job they work in. As a result the feeling is making people rethink their careers – over 1 in 10 (12 per cent) have considered changing their jobs due to the effect that their work has on the environment, almost a quarter (23 per cent) of employed adults state that their workplace doesn’t focus on acting sustainably and a whopping 83 per cent act more sustainably at home than they do at work.
Looking into why adults don’t act as sustainably at work as they do at home, over 1 in 10 stated that their ‘colleagues don’t act sustainably so it doesn’t feel worthwhile’ – showing that we might be a little too easily swayed when it comes to our environmental efforts. Another 14 per cent feel that it’s hard to make a difference as their company doesn’t ask for feedback, while 33 per cent feel that they don’t have the means to be as environmentally friendly as they would like to at work.
On an industry level, the retail, catering and leisure industries have been found to be most likely to cause their employees to experience these feelings. 80 per cent of those who work in these industries feel guilty about the impact that their work has on the environment. This causes the statistic of those who have considered changing their job due to it’s impact to jump to over one in five in these industries. This is followed by 18 per cent who work in the Travel and Transport industry who have also considered changing jobs. Contrastingly, a quarter do not experience any feelings of guilt as their work tries to minimise its environmental effects, while just six per cent state that they work in a sustainable industry.
The factors most likely to induce feelings of green guilt are unnecessary use of plastic, alongside wasting food and product. A huge 78 per cent feel guilty for unnecessary use of plastic, 72 per cent for wasting food and 57 per cent for wasting products. The factors that we don’t see as easily avoided and therefore less guilt-inducing are unsustainable shopping, with just 25 per cent feeling guilty about this, excessive energy consumption (36 per cent), while just a third feel guilty about high travel emissions.
Despite feelings of guilt, on the whole, the UK feels positive about trying to live sustainably (57 per cent). But these factors do lead to some less positive feelings too – almost a quarter (22 per cent) feel overwhelmed and stressed by trying to live in this way, whilst 8 per cent feel helpless.