ZHAW study shows obstacles to sustainable shopping

Winterthur/Lausanne/Zurich – Higher prices and a lack of transparency are the main barriers to sustainable behavior for consumers. A study by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) shows that many people are unaware of what sustainability means when it comes to clothing and electronics.

The main barrier to sustainable food consumption is the price. This was stated by almost half of all respondents to a ZHAW study conducted by an interdisciplinary team in collaboration with the University of Lausanne and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Around 1,200 people in all of Switzerland's major language regions were surveyed three times at intervals of around nine months. The study was designed to investigate how consumers behave in the three areas of consumption that are particularly relevant to environmental impact: Food, consumer electronics and textiles.

A third of respondents also cited the higher prices of sustainable clothing as the biggest obstacle to making a sustainable purchase decision. Many also stated that they had difficulty distinguishing between sustainable and non-sustainable products. In the case of mobile devices, as many as 45 percent expressed this uncertainty. In addition, participants in all three areas of consumption cite a lack of trust in labels as an important barrier.

"While many consumers know how they can act more sustainably when it comes to food, many are not aware of what sustainability actually means when it comes to clothing and electronics," summarizes Swen Kühne from the ZHAW Department of Applied Psychology in a press release from the university. Here, politicians and companies could create transparency through standardized information and labels. ce/mm

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