The 'Attenborough Effect' Has Made People More Conscious About Plastic Use

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Public Domain. MaxPixel

It's proof that documentaries are powerful tools for change.

When the BBC aired Blue Planet II in 2017, people were outraged about ocean plastic pollution like never before. It was suddenly a hot topic, being cited by everyone everywhere. People who had never done it before started taking reusable bags to the grocery store and refusing plastic packaging.

But would the enthusiasm last? You know how it goes... the initial determination to live better wanes over time and habits return to their default state. Only time would tell.

Attenborough Effect

In this case, however, time revealed a different, and happier, story. A new report by Global Web Index found that the 'Attenborough Effect' (named after the show's narrator David Attenborough) has led to a 53 percent reduction in single-use plastic usage over the past 12 months.

Positive Consumer Changes

Researchers questioned 3,833 consumers in the United Kingdom and the United States and found that more than half have reduced the amount of single-use plastic they are using in the last year. Forty-two percent of people consider sustainable materials to be important when making day-to-day purchases and tend to trust brands more if they make statements about sustainability. Motivations cited include concern for the future of the environment and want to reduce one's personal waste footprint.

Younger Generations Value Sustainable Products as Important

There was a significant difference between younger and older people's views. Older people (55-64) think it's more important for something to be affordable, whereas younger people (16 to 24) value sustainability more. Chase Buckle, trends manager at Global Web Index, explained,

"It may come as a shock to some that the younger consumers are more considerate about sustainable materials than older generations. What is important to note, is that the younger generations grew up during the height of the sustainability crisis with high-profile, environmentalist documentaries widely available on the content platforms they prefer over conventional TV."

This is hopeful news for times like these, as young people will grow up to become the decision-makers of the future. The more they care about the environment and reject plastics, the more those views will be reflected in policies going forward.