Inflation puts Quebecers’ responsible consumption to the test

Does inflation make Quebec consumers more respectful of the environment? Hard to say, depending on the Responsible consumption barometer 2022 published on Wednesday. On the one hand, Quebecers have restricted their purchases of goods; on the other hand, they choose less local and sustainable products, which they perceive as expensive.

A sample of 1,000 people was selected to respond via the Internet, at the end of September, to questions about their habits. However, 57.3% of respondents indicated that they had reduced their consumption in the last month, an increase of 9.2 percentage points compared to the similar study published last year. The reason mentioned by 90.5% of them is the rise in prices.

“This year, the inflationary crisis is having a positive effect on consumption,” says Fabien Durif, director of the Responsible Consumption Observatory at UQAM, which led the annual research.

Clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as packaged food products, are among the most neglected goods. The consumption of red meat, the production of which is particularly harmful to the environment, would also have been limited by more respondents than last year, reaching 46.1% of respondents.

“What is less encouraging is that since the start of the pandemic, we saw a slowdown in lifestyles, with the “homemade” which had progressed”, notes Mr. Durif, who refers in particular to gardening and to DIY. “There, we see a stagnation of these habits, even a decline. »

The craze for buying local would have decreased by 8 percentage points since 2021. Consumers frequently choosing products with a low environmental impact, such as green household cleaning products, recycled toilet paper or fair trade accessories, would have gone from 49% to 46%. “We are not in a major fall of the eco-responsible sector, compared to the European market on the organic, on the bulk. They have falls, these are the first times that these markets have fallen, ”but nuance Mr. Durif. “Here, we feel a contraction, but we will have to see what happens in the longer term. »

In recent years, Quebecers’ perception of responsible consumption has changed, to be based mainly on optimization — that is, avoiding waste, waste and packaging — and extending the lifespan objects, in particular through repair, reuse and sharing.

Mr. Durif concludes that it is difficult to predict what the responsible consumption trends will be in the coming years and, consequently, to identify ways to engage citizens more. “It is unheard of to suffer such a health crisis followed by an energy and economic crisis at the same time. All of this has an impact on our way of life and consumption”, he underlines.

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