Costs, mobility, consumption: a survey reveals the fragility (and assets) of Italians on the environment
We think we are “sustainable” and, in fact, we may not be at all. We think that we are doing everything we can to save the environment and, on the contrary, our behaviors are often not enough. An international survey – conducted by Altroconsumo in collaboration with other consumer associations 13 countries worldwide and created by Open – shows that there is still much to do. Many believe – and this is precisely what research shows – that waste management, so for example correct separate collection, is among the factors that have the greatest impact on the environment. This is not the case: according to the experts who collaborated in the survey, it is habits related to nutrition and mobility that have the greatest impact on sustainability. So what are the behaviors we should assume? “Research shows that we are not in terrible shape but there is still a long way to go. The results for Italy are not flattering: we are good in nutrition while our Achilles heel remains mobility. The biggest problem we perceive? Excessive costs, services to citizens that are not always efficient and consumer information that is often vague. The truth is that it is not only the costs that weigh, but also the culture, the education of citizens in sustainability,” says a Open Flavio Pellegrinuzzi, co-author of the Altroconsumo survey for Italy.
Italians pay attention to separate waste collection and nutrition
Altroconsumo involved in Italy 1,019 citizens aged 18 to 74: the total number of respondents, in 14 countries considered is 14,817. The areas considered are food, travel and mobility, water and energy at home, waste and the purchase of products and services. The survey, made a September 2021, also concerned Spain, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Belgium, France, Austria, the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Canada and Slovenia. It emerged that Italians are among the most careful when it comes to waste management. L’80 percent recycle in the right way, separating waste well and disposing of it where it is intended. But there is a false belief that this is enough to be in good standing with conscience. According to experts, waste is the least problem that the others that we all continue to underestimate. Just like the food where, however, the Italians seem to be very picky. Among the most attentive of all time, second only to Austria. the 74 percent avoid or reduce the consumption of foods of animal origin such as meat, fish and dairy products. the 71 percent avoids or reduces food waste.
The fees are excessive
But there is a “but” that relates to all aspects of sustainability. Too easy to be “green” with a full wallet. The obstacles to the adoption of sustainable behaviors lie above all in the perception of excessive costs. Being “green” sometimes requires a very high spending capacity. Choosing truly eco-friendly food products has a cost, just like installing a purifier at home to avoid buying plastic bottles every day (which pollute but cost very little). the 32 percent it avoids or reduces food packaging like bottled water, but that’s still too little. On the energy front, for example, among the most delicate, especially today with onerous bills, only the 45 percent she has a well-insulated house (building, walls, roof and windows) precisely because she has a cost. There are behaviors everyone could adopt like not using the air conditioner and overheating or turning off the lights and standby appliances, but only the 64 percent It does. the 47 percent of Italians, on the other hand, have energy-efficient appliances, appliances and lighting systems. Behaviors that guarantee savings on the bill as well as an advantage for the environment (but which risk being a luxury). Only the 13 percent he produces at least some of the energy he uses at home with solar panels. When it comes to purchases, however, the 57 percent prefers products of better quality, reliability and durability, only 38 percent avoid buying single-use products and 33 percent is committed to purchasing products and services from environmentally conscious companies. Organic products are expensive and therefore not affordable for everyone.
The Achilles heel ? Mobility
Finally, on the mobility front, Italy is in tenth place. “This is a critical sector, we still rely on the private media, we have 60 cars per 100 inhabitantswho even became in Rome 71. We are the third European country with the highest motorization rate. On the other hand, public transport is still too little chosen, also because it is considered unsatisfactory by the population”, adds Flavio Pellegrinuzzi to Open. Yet many continue to travel by car too because in some parts of Italy it is not possible to do otherwise, as public transport is almost non-existent (think Southern Italy, ed). “We need more collaboration from the administrations, from the State to the local communities”, ton Pellegrinuzzi. In short, if basic services are lacking, you won’t go anywhere. the 53 percent of respondents say they only use the car when necessary,11 percent not even own it when only the 5 percent have a hybrid or electric car. The reason? Costs too much.
the 38 percent travels on foot, by bicycle or by public transport, if necessary, while only the 32 percent follows sustainable tourism practices, such as avoiding cruise ships and staying in hotels with eco-certifications. Too bad that for experts mobility and travel are in second place for the impact on the environment. Only the 43 percent of Italians avoid or reduce air travel by preferring less polluting means such as the train (to be used as far as possible, not in Sicily for example where the train is a mirage). The research also shows that the least attentive to the environment are men who do not have a high school diploma, while the “green” profile par excellence is that of women. over 55, with at least a high school diploma. the 71 percent of Italians believe that it is important to have sustainable behaviors, a predisposition to which institutions and companies are also called upon to contribute. Our country therefore occupies sixth place (up to 14 countries) with a sustainable lifestyle index of 53 (the first is Austria with an index of 57 followed by France with 55). A sufficient result, in short. Certainly not exciting.
How to be “green” without spending a fortune
To conclude, there are different behaviors that each of us can adopt without excessive costs to concretely help the environment and not create more damage than what has already been done over the years. Here are our tips:
- Minimize plastic bottles or, if necessary, dispose of them properly. In general, it is enough to replace them with a filter jug (minimum cost, even of 10€therefore with a great saving in the very short term) or, in the event of economic possibilities, with a purifier to be installed at home;
- Don’t leave heaters and air conditioners on when you’re not home or when you really don’t need them.
- Always turn off lights and all appliances, even those on standby like televisions, when not in use;
- Don’t buy products that we don’t really need and, if they break down, at least try to fix them without throwing them away right away. If we don’t want them anymore, but they still work, it would be nice to donate them;
- Recycle waste properly, for example by avoiding mixing paper with plastic;
- Avoid buying disposable products or products with excessive food packaging;
- Reduce the consumption of meat, fish and dairy products for purely environmental reasons (we are not going into the substance of other delicate subjects here);
- Do not use the car to go a few meters, prefer – as far as possible – public transport. The ideal would be to move on foot or by bicycle or scooter;
- Choose appliances with a good energy class: you will spend a little more but the costs will be amortized in a very short time. A choice that, in fact, helps the environment but also the wallet;
- Choose the train rather than the plane, clearly whenever possible. To go from Milan to Rome, for example, a train is better than a plane:
- If you have the economic possibilities, opt for solar panels and well-insulated houses (but again it’s a question of wallet, in fact);
- If possible, it is always better to buy sustainable products, in order to help the environment;
- Finally, it is better to avoid cruise ships and hotels without ecological certifications. Sometimes it is better to have a private room in a shared apartment or an entire unit provided by a host.
Cover photo of PIXABAY