Sustainability matters more in 2020, shows new data

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (Pogonici)
© Getty Images \ (Pogonici)

Related tags coronavirus Sustainability biotech consumer behavior

The California-based biotech company Genomatica has just released survey data on if and how much consumers in the US care about environmental issues during the COVID-19 health crisis.

“The collective consciousness on sustainability is rising, and certainly faster than most would have expected during these unprecedented times,” ​Christophe Schilling, Genomatica’s CEO, says in today’s remarks to the press.

“While this shift has been underway for decades, and particularly strong in Europe, many of us in the US have been inspired by the rapid improvement in air quality and traffic [during the pandemic] that shines a bright light on how our behaviors and decisions impact our environment and quality of life,” ​he says, adding that, “As brands are learning, Americans are increasingly spending in line with their values, fueling a ray of hope in a tough year.”

Numbers on naturals and sustainable CPGs

There was talk earlier this year that the Coronavirus pandemic and the need for more deliberate personal hygiene as well as household and institutional cleaning would be the end for the naturals movement and sustainable product solutions. The thinking here was that since conventional products like and hand sanitizer and Lysol Wipes were in high demand that conventional ingredients and formulations were perceived as safer and more effective across the board.

The new figures from the Genomatica survey help disprove that hypothesis: 50% of US-based respondents “are comfortable using natural cleaning products today.”

“56% of Americans want brands and government to prioritize sustainability even amid health and economic turmoil.” ​And “more than a third (37%) of Americans are willing to pay a little more for sustainable products, even during an economic downturn — and across age groups, Gen Z is the most willing (43%).”

Consumer sustainability during and after COVID-19

Environmental sustainability concerns will outlast the pandemic, according to data Genomatica shared with Cosmetics Design.

“Eighty-six percent of Americans say sustainability will be equally or more important when the pandemic subsides.” ​And 85% of respondents have been thinking about sustainability as much or more so than they did before the pandemic.

Of course for some, making sustainable choices has been more difficult. But many of those folks report being troubled by that fact. 59% of respondents who are being “less sustainable during COVID-19 say they don’t like it.” ​And within that 59%, 43% call their less-sustainable choices “a necessary evil” ​and 36% “feel guilty about it.”

Environmental sustainability has gone mainstream

Some of the questions Genomatica sought to answer with this 2,000-person survey (which they ran last month in partnership with Method Research and Dynata) involve the prevalence of sustainability concerns among people living in the US.

According to today’s media release, this “new research shows sustainability has moved from a fringe preference into a core imperative across American life.”

And to demonstrate this, Genomatica points to figures like these: “46% of Republicans say the government should continue to prioritize sustainability. Fox News viewers are as likely as anyone else to say the pandemic has made them personally more sustainable.”

It also hardly seems to matter how directly anyone has been impacted by COVID-19. “For those feeling the brunt of COVID-19: Nearly half (46%) of those who say they live in areas hit hard by COVID-19 claim they’ve been thinking more about sustainability, while 43% of Americans who’ve been laid off, furloughed or seen job disruption say they would still pay more for sustainable products.”

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