The sustainability squeeze: Almost half of Brits can’t afford to be more sustainable


New research from Bazaarvoice’s Influenster community reveals the current struggle UK consumers have with balancing the rising cost of living with their desire to shop sustainably. Given the choice, 44% would ditch fast fashion and switch to more sustainable clothing options, but they simply can’t afford the difference in cost.

Eco sustainability vs financial sustainability

Despite two thirds of consumers recognising the negative impact fast fashion companies have on the planet (66%), the higher price point (62%) and general availability of more sustainable and eco-friendly product alternatives (42%) have become stumbling blocks. Almost a quarter also cited size inclusivity (22%) something that is driving their fast fashion purchases.

The lack of awareness around fast fashion’s attempts to act sustainably has also increased the dilemma felt by consumers. In fact, half have not heard about the recycling initiatives set up by fast fashion brands to combat their large carbon footprints.
Conversely, there is a feeling that more could be done by sustainable brands to make eco-conscious shopping more financially viable. Four in five consumers are more likely to make a sustainable switch if they were offered incentives (83%), such as discounted items for participating in recycling programmes.

Greenwashing doubts

Shockingly, more consumers believe that brands use sustainability programmes as a marketing ploy (29%) than believe brands are actually being mindful of their ecological footprint (22%). Encouragingly though, almost half take it upon themselves to look through brand websites to educate themselves on sustainable practices (41%).
Ed Hill, SVP EMEA at Bazaarvoice comments, “In recent years we’ve seen that consumers don’t just want to shop, they want to support and shop from brands whose values and beliefs mirror their own. As we see the cost of basic necessities increase across the UK, it understandably puts consumers in a predicament as they try to balance ethics with the income they have at their disposal.”
Hill concludes, “It’s important that brands and retailers are either able to offer sustainable options that are affordable, or that they are able to take the guilt out of fast fashion purchases by properly promoting—and following through on—their sustainability commitments. To build trust, companies ultimately need to do more than just talk the talk, they need demonstrate their willingness to contribute to the greater good. But they must do so in a way that’s authentic, transparent, and backed by actions that drive real change.”


Bazaarvoice’s Influenster community conducted this research among 1000+ respondents in the UK, in March 2022.

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