Getty Images
Oct 25, 2021
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  • US public believe government has largest responsibility for sustainability followed by businesses and say they need more information on how to live sustainably
  • Research shows how visuals drive consumer behavior around sustainability
New York – October 26, 2021: Ahead of the COP26 summit, Getty Images, a world leader in visual communication, has unveiled new research which reveals that 87% of people living in the US would practice living a sustainable lifestyle if it cost them the same or less than what they’re paying today. The research also confirmed that the main barrier for people practicing sustainability in their every day is the expense (36%) while over a quarter of respondents said they need more information on how to live sustainably. The findings are reported within research for Getty Images’ creative insights platform Visual GPS, completed in conjunction with global market research firm MarketCast.

The US public are also wielding their spending power to send a message to business, with 53% of people saying they only buy products from brands that make an effort to be eco‑friendly. However, the majority of people see government as having the most responsibility around climate action and sustainability, followed by business.

The report also finds the most common actions people take toward climate action and sustainability are recycling (57%), followed by using environmentally friendly products (37%), reusing, repairing or purchasing second‑hand instead of buying new (35%), making their homes more energy efficient (32%) and stopping the use of single‑use products (24%). Yet only 24% of those surveyed say they do everything they can to practice a sustainable lifestyle.

“The issue of climate action has never been more urgent, and our research shows people in the US are willing and ready to do more – but they need the government and business to break down barriers to action and show them how they can make a difference,” said Dr. Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images

“The research also demonstrates how repetitive use of visuals in business and government communications showing people the small steps they can take toward sustainability can have a positive impact on the environment,” continues Dr Swift. “Recycling, energy awareness and reusable items are all popular visual cues which have for some time been used to illustrate sustainable living.”

Making Sustainability Personal

Customer searches on show that businesses are expanding how they illustrate issues of climate action and sustainability, with searches up year over year for ‘renewable energy’ (+74%), ‘clean energy’ (+93%), ‘environmental sustainability’ (+370%) and ‘social impact’ (+130%), alongside more domestic representations such as ‘water conservation’ (+62%) or ‘carbon footprint’ (+69%).

“What’s clear from our research is that when visual communications – whether an ad on TV or local council website – make sustainability personal and show the actions the average person can take, that drives real consumer behavior. With people saying they need more information on how to live sustainably, this is a clear call to action for the government and businesses to expand the visual cues they are using and encourage further sustainable behaviors,” finishes Dr Swift.

To explore sustainability‑inspired imagery and video, visit
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