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How green is your house?

Recycling favorite activity among Brits says new survey

Preliminary results from 1500 respondents show that those who own their own home are more likely to separate their rubbish (83 per cent) than those in rented accommodation (59 per cent), whilst less than one in a hundred households have solar water heating (0.5 per cent) or solar energy panels (0.5 per cent).

Initial findings also show that switching off the lights in unused rooms (82 per cent) and not leaving the television on standby (67 per cent) are significantly more popular than taking fewer flights (16 per cent), car sharing (15 per cent) and not buying items because they have too much packaging (8 per cent).

Green behaviours costing the least money and effort are currently the most popular with the British public, despite the fact that 59 per cent of people think that if things continue on their current course we will soon experience a major environmental disaster.

A fuller picture of environmental and other behaviours and attitudes based on the first annual survey of 100,000 individuals from 40,000 households for Understanding Society will be published at a later date.

With Copenhagen Climate Change Conference just a couple of weeks away, the environment is likely to remain a hot topic amongst the British public, says Professor Nick Buck of the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex, which is leading the new research: "One of the unique features of Understanding Society is that we speak to the same people each year, which means we can see how people's behaviours and attitudes change over time. The information we collect about how "green" people are will play a key role in informing the ongoing debate about environmental issues."

The UK's favourite green behaviours…..

Switching off lights in unused room 82%
Use public transport rather than car 29%
Not leaving TV on standby 67%
Buying recycled paper products 28%
Take own bag when shopping 55%
Taking fewer flights where possible 16%
Don't keep tap on when brushing teeth 55%
Car sharing 15%
Putting more clothes on when cold 45%
Not buying items due to too much packaging 8%
Walk or cycle on short journeys 40%
ESRC Press Office:
Zoë Stevens, Tel: 01793 413218, Email:
ISER/University of Essex Press Office:
Chris Garrington, Tel: 01206 874823, Email:
1. Understanding Society is a new study tracking the lives of 100,000 adults and children from 40,000 households every year as they respond to regional, national and international change. It is a multi-purpose multi-topic survey, mapping the social landscape of the UK. Environmental issues and behaviours are just one strand of the survey, it will also tell us about our working lives, relationships, health, finances, neighbourhoods, education, transport and more. Results from around half of participants in wave one will be available from summer 2010 - the findings above are the preliminary results of a small subsection (about 1500 people) of the total respondents.

2. Understanding Society has been commissioned by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Research Team is led by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) will deliver the Study.

3. The ESRC have contributed £3 million towards the funding of Understanding Society, and have successfully secured a total of £19.4 million from the department for Business, Innovation and Skills Large Facilities Capital Fund. A further £2.51 million has been secured from a consortium of Government departments. This initial funding will support the first two waves of the study. It is envisaged that the study will continue for up to 20 years.

4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at

5. To find out more about ESRC funded research into the environment and climate change please visit

Press Office | EurekAlert!
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