Scots more inspired to recycle by money than Greta Thunberg

Despite being named TIME Person of the Year 2019 for her climate activism work, Greta Thunberg surprisingly only inspires 4% of Scots to be more sustainable, according to new research.

The study, from leading savings site, finds that people are far less likely to cite the teen activist as their main inspiration for going green, instead listing a sense of guilt (22%) and a fear for future generations (21%) as their top reasons for making eco-conscious lifestyle changes.

While over nine in 10 respondents (91%) expressed concern for the future of the planet, a little under a quarter (22%) consider sustainability to be a key priority in their lives.

Almost a quarter of people in Scotland (24%) admit that they should be doing a lot more to reduce their personal impact on the environment, but many find it too difficult to change their habits. Just below one in five (19%) claim that living sustainably is too inconvenient, especially from a financial point of view.

However, while some people find adapting to a more eco-conscious lifestyle to be too expensive, others see being green as anything but mean—particularly to their bank accounts. A cheeky 12% of Scots say they try to be more environmentally friendly, purely because they hope it saves them a few pounds.

Over a third of those in Scotland (35%) believe saving money is a happy by-product of being environmentally-friendly, with people saving an average of £66.72 each month as a result of their lifestyle changes – totalling £800.64 over the year.

Across the UK, this attitude resides largely among younger generations, with almost half of 18-24-year olds (46%) agreeing that living sustainably equates to being savvy with your money, compared with only a quarter of those aged 55 and over (23%).

When it comes to the things that people do in order to reduce their personal impact on the planet, buying fewer items that contain plastic-packaging is the action most commonly taken in Scotland (57%).

Top actions people take to be more environmentally friendly:

1, Buying fewer plastic packaged items from supermarkets, 57%

2, Reducing food waste, 57%

3, Recycling as much as possible, 51%

4, Using reusable shopping bags, 50%

5, Walking rather than using other transport, 35%

Anita Naik, lifestyle editor at, said: ‘It is clear that the majority of people in Scotland will openly discuss concerns for the environment, but it is interesting to see that the percentage of those taking regular direct action to reduce their personal impact on the planet is still pretty low.

‘It’s a shame that more of us can’t see the benefits of living a greener lifestyle, particularly when these changes can also save us money.

‘For example, using our own bags when shopping is a simple, savvy way to reduce our personal impact on the environment, and other easy lifestyle changes like reducing our meat intake and using a reusable coffee cup can make a real difference. We can benefit both the planet, and our bank accounts, by living more sustainably.’