Sir David Attenborough's documentaries on climate change has caused consumers to buy more sustainable packaging, according to a new study published alongside the launch of Netflix show Our Planet

Sir David Attenborough2

Sir David Attenborough is the presenter of documentaries including Blue Planet and Our Planet (Credit: BBC)

Consumers have reduced the amount of disposable plastic they use by 53% over the past year – with Sir David Attenborough’s most recent documentaries on climate change cited as having a major role, according to new research.

The study, conducted by London-based market researcher GlobalWebIndex, surveyed 3,833 people from the US and UK, with 42% saying products that use sustainable materials are important when it comes to making day-to-day purchase decisions.

The impact of awareness-raising initiatives such as Sir David’s TV series Blue Planet II and Our Planet – the new Netflix nature show released last week – have been attributed to this attitude, which has been dubbed #TheAttenboroughEffect.

The report also highlighted how younger consumers are more likely to purchase products based on sustainability instead of affordability, with a 20% difference between consumers aged 15 to 24 and those aged 55 to 64 when it comes to buying items that are more affordable.

David attenborough climate change

GlobalWebIndex trends manager Chase Buckle said: “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.”


A determination to do become more sustainable

In the UK, 82% said they thought it was important to purchase goods with sustainable packaging due to environmental concerns – as well as a desire to be less wasteful.

However, although many people are determined to recycle more, some don’t feel they have enough information.

Three in ten of all respondents said they didn’t feel they had enough information about which packaging can be recycled.

Of those, 41% said it’s because brand campaigns don’t give them enough information on how to dispose of their products properly.

Influence of Sir David Attenborough and social media on climate change attitudes

#TheAttenboroughEffect is the term given to the idea that awareness of environmental issues has increased post-Blue Planet II, and is also known as “the Blue Planet effect”.

While climate change observers say this has had an impact, social media has played an even bigger role.

This is because consumer mindsets are guided mostly by media sources and peer groups, especially among the younger generation.

The data shows that 4 in 10 people from Generation Z say they are easily swayed by other people’s opinion.

This is due to their increased exposure to social media, which has magnified the plastics revolution.

This is despite the study showing only one in four internet users saying brand messaging has the biggest impact in guiding their views on sustainability.

In the US and the UK, two in three consumers believe brands that make a public promise to be sustainable are more trustworthy, while 60% said they would be likely to switch to more environmentally-friendly brands.

Apps, social media influencer

This leads the report to conclude that sustainable packaging is no longer a “nice-to-have” for companies, but a must-have.

Mr Buckle added: “There’s a ‘catch-22’ here.

“Consumers are still very price-conscious and yet there is an opportunity for brands to capitalise on consumer perception surrounding sustainable packaging of products.

“Managing these different pressures is no small hurdle for manufacturers and brands to overcome.

“Sustainability isn’t just another buzzword.

“Consumers genuinely care, and they’re expecting more from brands than ever before thanks to social media reinforcing a culture of accountability among businesses.”