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Monday, January 25, 2010

Sustainable Behaviour in the UK

I am in the UK. Vacation last week, work this week. Some observations thus far;

Browsing the newspapers, perusing the roadside and station platform advertising, I see very little green marketing compared to past visits or compared to the USA. Interestingly the only advert I have seen that refers to green issues is from Exxon, an American company. My impression is that the UK has moved on from green advertising and I might be tempted to conclude that the UK has slowed the pace of sustainable activity, but a closer look reveals another perspective.

I see comprehensive green actions in the areas of transport and homes. Gas for cars continues to be significantly more expensive, diesel fuel more widespread, public transport much more widely used. According to today's Daily Telegraph, a government department is recommending introducing ‘average speed traps’ on the roads to reduce driving speeds and hence carbon emissions. Walking, scooting and cycling is far more common and much better accommodated (although why do so few adult cyclists wear helmets ?).

I haven’t seen any solar PV installations, but I have seen three solar water heaters on homes. I don’t ever recall seeing one in the UK before. My parents are about to get their loft insulated at no cost to themselves through a government grant. Many householders are required to rigorously split their trash into four different bins; paper/plastic recyclables, cardboard and card, compostable food waste and regular trash.

Toilets in public places of any significant size, have dual flush modes - something I used to associate with going on vacation to other countries.

All in all, although there is a long way to go, I see a more comprehensive adoption of sustainable behaviours than at home in the US. More thoughts from my visit here later this week.


  1. Looks like Sustainability has become a way of life in UK, hence no special attention grabbing ads.

    Have a nice stay in UK

  2. One of the good things they are doing in the UK is educating the kids from infant/kindergarten age about limiting/lowering their consumption (water, energy etc). I like the way you say that we are required to rigorously sort our trash... they do refuse to empty the paper/can bins if they are "contaminated" though.
    Louise (American Business Conferences)

  3. There's a gentleman by the name of Scott Brusaw who created a model for solar roadways. He recently received government grant money to create a prototype. Here's an interview explaining it:

    I'm interested to know your take on the probability of something like this actually hitting the market.