Canadians believe it's easier to live sustainably if you're wealthy

Survey shows desire to have a more positive impact on the environment, but do people really have the commitment to do so?

Canadians believe it's easier to live sustainably if you're wealthy

Sustainability has become engrained in the language of business, with investors and consumers coming to expect it from brands.

But when it comes to individual behaviour, are Canadians committed to living sustainably, even if it comes with additional cost or a change in the way they like to live?

A new survey from ESG reporting software company Onyen Corporation asked investors and consumers about several elements of sustainable living.

They wanted to establish how deeply committed they are to everything from workforce diversity to ethical supply chains to companies and their obligations to the communities in which they operate.

One key takeaway was that four in five respondents believe it’s easier to live sustainably if you are wealthy. This opinion is widely held among the 18-34s who took part (83%) and still in a sizeable share of 55+ (75%).

True commitment

The research also revealed that, while 81% of respondents indicated willingness to keep their cell phone for an extra year or two to benefit the environment, a deeper dive tells a different story.

Just 38% said they felt strongly about this commitment and Laurie Clarke, CEO of Onyen, says that level of consumer behaviour is what  makes a difference.

“While the numbers are heartening, the truth is in the details here for many of the responses,” she said. “Real change happens when people move from feeling strongly about something to acting on it.”

On supply chain safety, the survey found that three quarters of Canadians expressed concern about the environmental risks of transporting hazardous materials, and a similar share acknowledged that there are environmental risks embedded in supply chains.

But when strong feelings are assessed, the numbers fall to just 31% and 22% respectively.