Clarity in crisis? The impact of COVID-19 on students’ sustainable perceptions and behaviours

Why student sustainability research?

The one upside of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions is perhaps the impact on our appreciation of the world around us and our desire to protect it. From reduced traffic pollution to louder birdsong, people appear to be noticing their environments more, but has this translated into efforts to live more sustainably?

Is there clarity in crisis?

To bring quantitative insight to student sustainability research around environmental awareness and action, we asked 1,055 students in the UK to respond to 5 sustainability statements.

This questioning will be incorporated into an annual tracking survey with students going forward and it will be particularly interesting to see how the pandemic impacts students’ perceptions and behaviours.

In this initial survey, we found:

  • The majority (59%) agreed they had become more aware of their environmental impact in the past year, but future tracking will show if this is due to the pandemic, or a general shift in awareness.
  • In response to “The COVID-19 restrictions have led me to behave more sustainably”, 39% selected ‘neither agree nor disagree’ – indicating neutral feelings towards the impact of the pandemic on their sustainable behaviour.
  • 70% believed they could make a difference to the environment by altering their behaviour, but only 55% were actively trying to consume less to be more sustainable.

Interested in your own research?

Our dedicated team is passionate about research around sustainability, particularly with the younger generation, but we offer a host of other services and bespoke research designs.