As a leading hygiene and health company, Essity has produced this report to enhance our understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic affected consumers’ ability and ambition to lead more environmentally friendly lifestyles.

It is based on two research projects that have produced valuable insights into how the attitudes and behaviours of UK consumers have been influenced by the impact of lockdowns and other restrictions – and how their desire to adopt more sustainable lifestyles may be affected by increases in the cost of living.

Consumers are optimistic about making a difference.

More than six out of ten UK consumers (61%) believe they can make a positive difference to the environment through the actions they take as individuals.

Consumers are committed to sustainability.

Following changes driven by the pandemic, almost one in two people (45%) say they now have a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. More than nine out of ten (91%) of those who are now living more sustainably intend to keep doing so when life returns to normal.

Consumers will pay a sustainability premium.

Despite the increased cost of living consumers are willing to spend an average of 10% extra for more environmentally friendly goods and services. More than three-quarters (77%) are worried about a rise in the cost of living – yet 70% still say they will keep trying to live sustainably.

Health is now a higher priority.

Almost eight out of ten people (78%) say their health and that of family and friends is more important to them now than before the pandemic. Consumers are also willing to pay the biggest sustainability premium (12%) for environmentally friendly health and hygiene products and services.