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It's not easy being green

o resolve the multitude of competing issues they faced: "Their heart wants to go one way, but their head goes another," says Dr Young.

All three groups found it relatively easy to make green decisions about their food purchases, preferring to buy organic, fair trade or locally sourced food. But the story was different for the one-off decisions they made to buy domestic appliances and other household electrical goods.

For all but the greenest group of consumers, the environmental performance of a one-off major purchase decision was often traded off by price. And most green consumers did not even consider ethical issues when making decisions about less expensive products such as toasters or mp3 players. They found it hard to find any information about these products and thought it was not worth the time and effort involved.

"Consumers are very confused about what issues are important," says Dr Young. "They need clear directions."

The researchers found that all groups of consumers used and trusted the EU Energy Label that must be displayed on white goods and they suggest that similar scales, such as an A-G energy rating for all electronic products, could be helpful.

But consumers need more than just education to encourage them to choose green alternatives, Dr Young warns. Without financial incentives, it is unlikely that green consumer power will force industry towards more sustainable practices.


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Contact: Alexandra Saxon
alexandra.saxon@esrc.ac.uk
44-017-934-13032
Economic & Social Research Council
11-Feb-2007


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