An Ipsos MORI survey, conducted for INCPEN, found that when asked to choose up to three options from a list of things that people can do to help improve the environment, over half (52%) chose ‘recycle bottles, cans, paper and other materials’, the highest number of responses.

By contrast, just 15% of respondents chose ‘turn down the home heating’ and only 22% chose ‘make fewer car journeys’ and ‘use public transport’. Men were also significantly more likely (18%) than women (13%) to choose ‘turn down home heating’.

Critically, central heating/hot water is the second highest factor (24%) in a household’s total impact on the environment, yet turning down the heating was ranked at only 11th place on the list of options.

Commenting on the findings, INCPEN’s director, Jane Bickerstaffe, said: “It’s good to see that people now realise there are lots of other things, as well as recycling, that they can do to live more sustainably.

“However they are still not sure which actions make the most difference. Policy makers need to tell them where the biggest benefits are.”

Maxine Perella

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