TALLINN – A survey conducted by SEB indicates that residents in the Baltic countries pursue a largely resource-saving lifestyle, which does not allow wasting food or spending excessively on new clothes.
According to the survey, one in two residents in Estonia believes that everyone can contribute to solving environmental problems. Residents of the other two Baltic countries are even more likely to believe in the power of the individual to alleviate environmental concerns, as such responses accounted for 52 percent of all responses in Lithuania and 62 percent in Latvia, SEB said.
Across the Baltics, more than two-thirds of respondents plan their food purchases so as to avoid buying excessive amounts and wasting food as a result. Almost a third of the Baltic population also refrains from consuming products containing palm oil.
Baltic residents handle food sparingly. Seventy-six percent of Lithuanian respondents never throw away surplus food, but prepare a new meal using what is left over from a previous meal. Fifty-three percent of respondents in Estonia and 44 percent of Latvian respondents do the same.
Reducing the consumption of food of animal origin was also mentioned as a way to act more environmentally friendly. It is more common among Estonians, almost a third of whom admitted that they eat less meat than before.
The most likely to buy and sell recycled clothing are Lithuanians, 73 percent of whom said it was a normal course of behavior for them, compared with 58 percent of respondents in Estonia and 49 percent in Latvia who said so.
"In terms of environmental impact, buying fewer but better quality goods is also responsible purchasing behavior. More than half of the respondents in Estonia mentioned this in relation to their clothing purchases," Evelin Allas, head of sustainable banking at SEB, said.
In Estonia, 67 percent people use a cloth shopping bag instead of a plastic bag, which is a higher ratio than in the other two Baltic countries. At the same time, nearly half of respondents in all three countries admitted that they try to use less plastic, such as plastic tableware and bottles. Estonians are the most active recyclers of plastic bottles, with 94 percent of respondents doing so, while Latvians are the worst recyclers with a ratio of 70 percent.
"When leaving a room, the light is switched off in most homes in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and low-energy or LED bulbs are mostly used in residential buildings. Energy efficiency is an important criterion when buying new household appliances, and old appliances are taken to a recycling station," Allas said.
Public transport is used for environmentally friendly mobility, with nearly a third of respondents in Estonia and Lithuania commuting by bus, trolleybus, tram or train, and a quarter in Latvia. Those who have the option are more likely to not use a car. For example, almost a third of respondents in Estonia and Latvia prefer moving by bike, on foot or by electric scooter to driving if possible.
"Transport is an area where it can be difficult to reduce your environmental footprint, depending on where you live or the size of the family. For example, if you have small children. This also stood out from the survey, as more than a third of respondents in all countries said they were doing nothing directly for environmental sustainability in transport," Allas added.
The survey was conducted for SEB by pollster Norstat by interviewing 1,000 people aged 18-74 in each of the three countries between the end of October and the end of November 2021.