The top activities being done now by survey respondents to save the planet and what they would do differently if they could go back in time
Almost 1 in 5 (19%) 55+-year-olds are making their homes more energy-efficient to save the planet with just 1 in 7 (14%) 25-34-year-olds doing the same.
Almost three-quarters (74%) of 55+-year-olds are recycling more to save the planet compared to just over 2 in 5 (41%) of 16–24-year-olds.
Three-quarters (75%) of baby boomers are recycling more now to help save the planet compared to just under 2 in 5 (39%) Gen Zs and over half (54%) of millennials.
Almost twice as many baby boomers than Gen Zs are buying fewer clothes to help save the planet (49% vs 25%). Just over half (52%) of baby boomers are using less electricity to help save the planet compared to a third (33%) of Gen Z and just over a third (35%) of millennials.
Overall, these statistics, commissioned by Project Solar UK, the country’s leading installer of solar panels, indicate that the older generation (Gen X, baby boomers and traditionalists) are taking environmental issues more seriously and are making more active choices about saving the planet compared to the under 43-year-olds (Gen Z and Gen Y). Many of these statistics revealed today indicate that the parents’ generation are doing more than young people when it comes to taking practical steps to help with climate change.
Again, the older generation showed a real desire to tackle green issues when asked about what they would do if they could turn back the clock and undertake different behaviours to help towards saving the planet.
Almost 3 in 10 (28%) of 45–54-year-olds said they would make their home more energy efficient such as by adding solar panels and almost a third (32%) of 55+ year olds said the same if they could go back in time and do something differently to contribute towards saving the planet.
Almost 3 in 10 (29%) of 45-54 and 55+ year olds would use less electricity if they could turn back the clock.
Just over 1 in 6 (17%) of 45–54-year-olds would talk more about climate change to educate others if they could go back in time as would over 1 in 7 (15%) 55+ year olds who said the same.
Almost half (47%) of baby boomers (55–73-year-olds) would recycle more if they could go back in time. Strikingly, this is compared to only just over a third (36%) of Gen Z (16–23-year-olds) who said the same. This may be because this younger generation consider they are already recycling at a high level and do not recognise a need to increase recycling rates.
Also, interestingly, almost all of Gen Z and millennials (16–42-year-olds), 90% and 85% respectively, said they would have changed their behaviour in some way if they could turn the clock back to save the planet compared to 7 in 10 (70%) baby boomers and just over 3 in 5 (62%) traditionalists. This could be interpreted as the younger generation recognising that the climate emergency issues are now very real and will have direct impact on their age group. The lower response rates in the older generations may be put down to not recognising the immediacy of the climate problems and a belief that the older age groups may not have to bear the consequences of many behaviours that are damaging the planet.
“It’s striking that it is actually older people who are taking climate change seriously by their actions,“ says Simon Peat, CEO of Project Solar UK who commissioned the research. “It’s possible that some over 43-year-olds feel guilty and are now doing more work in this area, but our experience of talking to these people is that they were simply unaware of environmental issues when they were growing up and when they were the same age as the current Gen Z are now. Saving the planet was not on the agenda then but it is now, and they are making up for lost time by working hard on practical steps to make their lives greener," added Peat, whose Project Solar UK company is the largest retailer and installer of solar panels in England.
“The more publicity we can generate around environmental issues, the more each generation will stand up and take note. Steps, such as harnessing the sun’s energy through solar panels, are essential if we are all to address the issues to improve the lives of everyone on the planet, regardless of their age.”
Overall, the survey of 2,002 UK respondents revealed that the top five things people are doing now to save the planet include:
- Recycling more (63%)
- Using less electricity (43%)
- Buying less clothes (38%)
- Conserving water (38%)
- Using less gas (33%)
Overall, the top five things people would do differently if they could go back in time to contribute towards saving the planet are:
- Recycle more (45%)
- Make my home more energy efficient such as adding solar panels (29%)
- Use less electricity (29%)
- Conserve water (27%)
- Use less gas (23%)
Censuswide research undertaken October 2021 with 2002 individuals:
- Gen Z = 16-23-year-olds
- Millennials / Gen Y = 24–42-year-olds
- Gen X = 43–54-year-olds
- Baby boomers = 55–73-year-olds
- Traditionalist / silent = 75+