The Psychology Behind Why Our Green Habits Have Changed

If there’s one thing the past year has taught us, it’s that it’s hard to live a greener life in the midst of a pandemic. Staunch devotees of reusable coffee cups have returned to disposables, while those who once swore by public transport have turned to their cars for a safer commute.

Of course, our choices have been shaped by a need to stay alive. Reusable cups weren’t deemed hygienic in a society obsessively washing their hands every five minutes, while public transport became a last resort for many. When food options were limited (remember stockpiling?), people found alternatives wherever they could. And when scientists came out in favour of surgical masks over cloth masks, safety was prioritised over the need to protect the planet.

After three years of vegetarianism, journalist Amelia Tate said she “shamelessly” tucked into meat a few weeks into the first lockdown. And in a piece for The Observer, others reported their socially responsible lifestyle choices had gone down the plug hole, too – avid recyclers chucked cardboard in the bin, and people who only bought secondhand started buying fast fashion online.

Many people have experience “green guilt” as a result. More than half of Brits feel guilty because they don’t do enough to help the environment, new research shows. The survey of 2,000 adults by Budweiser found, most commonly, people felt guilt over food waste, followed by driving instead of walking, and using plastic bottles.

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