Pandemic inspires more sustainable living

15 June 2021


Over a third of Dutch workers feels that they have started to live more sustainably in the past year. A year in which the pandemic significantly affected people’s private as well as professional lives. For example, almost 40% chose to eat less meat and 45% used the car less for short trips. The recent Sustainable Choices Survey conducted by online pension administrator BeFrank yielded numerous encouraging and eye-catching results.

That the coronavirus crisis turned the lives of most Dutch people upside down is obvious. Apart from the endless stream of less pleasant news, there are fortunately also positive effects to report. One of these is the extra attention paid to a more sustainable lifestyle. The survey conducted by BeFrank among more than 1,100 working people shows that many of them have changed their lifestyle. For example, 40% of respondents do their shopping by foot or by bike more often now. The extra attention paid to local products can almost be called explosive: half of the respondents indicate that they opt more often or much more often for vegetables and fruit produced closer to home. Isabelle van Ast, Brand Manager at BeFrank: ‘It is also good to see that almost 80% of them intend to lead a more sustainable way of life in the future as well.’

Popular activities associated with a sustainable lifestyle
Buying local products 50%
Throwing away less food 44%
Separating waste 41%
Shopping by foot or bike 41%
Eating less meat 39%
Buying seasonal vegetables more often 38%
Swapping the tumble dryer for the clothes rack 32%
Buying recyclable packaging 29%
Investing in sustainable companies or funds 29%
Purchasing energy-efficient appliances 16%

Sustainable investments
In addition leading to a more sustainable lifestyle, the majority (80%) of those surveyed believe that companies and pension funds should invest in sustainable initiatives. Sebastiaan van den Dries, Director of BeFrank, on this outcome: ‘I see this as an extra impulse to focus even more on sustainability. For instance, we pay a lot of attention to sustainable investment, and we are the first pension administrator where a CO2-neutral pension scheme can be chosen. A pension is something you build up for the future. Fortunately, more and more workers consider it important for the future to be sustainable.’

Despite the fact that many workers have chosen a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, they may still feel guilt about their behaviour. More than half (55%) of those surveyed would like to be even more sustainable. This is another indication that attention to the environment is high on the agenda.

What do you feel guilty about with regard to a sustainable lifestyle?
Throwing away food 33%
Taking long showers 28%
Taking the car for short trips 26%
Buying plastic bottles without a deposit 21%
Eating meat 18%

More savings
The media have already reported that people are saving more. This study re-emphasises this: 60% of those surveyed spent less and thus had more to show for it. According to Van den Dries, this circumstance could be an incentive to make extra contributions to your pension. ‘Due to the low interest rates, long-term investments can potentially bring higher returns. It can also be fiscally interesting. It’s always good to examine this together with an advisor.’

About the survey
BeFrank commissioned Panelwizard to conduct a survey in May 2021 among 1,130 Dutch workers aged 25 years and older.

About BeFrank
BeFrank has been active in the collective pension market since 2011 and is the first Premium Pension Institution (PPI) in the Netherlands. BeFrank offers online pension services, clear communication and innovative services. It is a subsidiary of the NN Group.