Which caffeine-consuming Brits are the most sustainably oriented?

Are people in some cities more environmentally conscious than in others? A new study conducted by the Kent & Sussex Tea and Coffee Co reveals that in the United Kingdom, this is indeed true.

“Plastic-free July” in the UK has put added pressure on the coffee and tea industries to reform. The European Union recently banned the use of single-use coffee cups, and grocery retail chains Aldi and Sainsbury’s now promise plastic-free teabags.

Kent & Sussex Tea and Coffee evaluated the habits of over 100 cities throughout the UK using Google search volumes and survey data to find out where consumers care the most about this issue. [Methodology: a data analysis of the UK’s most sustainable coffee and tea consumers by using the average monthly search data for relevant terms between January 2020 and May 2021 and Google Surveys data in February 2021].

To locate the Brits most concerned about the ‘sustainability’ of their caffeine, the company examined who was searching (“googling”) the following terms:

  1. Plastic free teabags
  2. Recycling
  3. Reusable coffee cups
  4. Zero waste/sustainable shops
  5. Coffee beans
  6. Loose-leaf tea

They also cross referenced this with how much British consumers claimed to care about their caffeine carbon footprint according to a survey they conducted between 12 and 15 February 2021. The findings uncovered “eco warrior” and “eco fakers.”

In third position – because of a high volume of searches for ‘reusable coffee cups’ and ‘loose leaf tea’ – is Bath. In second place, searching most in the country for ‘reusable coffee cups’ and third most for ‘loose-leaf tea’ and ‘coffee beans,’ is the neighbouring city of Bristol, while Cambridge residents were the second most likely to search for ‘loose-leaf tea.’

Residents of Bedford top the list — they are googling ‘recycling’ more than anyone else, and they score highly on all other factors too, including ranking second in terms of most likely to search for ‘coffee beans.’

The city searching for ‘loose leaf tea’ more than anyone else is Stockport, which ranked 8th overall for caffeine-conscious consumption. Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire had the highest search volumes for coffee beans in the UK.

Conversely, which towns and cities fared the worst in this survey?

The third “least conscientious” city is Stoke-on-Trent, whose residents were the least likely to rank ‘sustainability’ as important when buying their coffee in the UK per the survey. Luton (Bedford’s neighbour) is the second least caffeine-conscious city in the UK. In fact, “Lutonians” do not spend much time searching for ‘reusable coffee cups’ or ‘loose-leaf tea’ when it comes to their brews.

Bedford ranked significantly below all others with the lowest volume of searches, in particular, the least for ‘loose-leaf’ tea.

Eco warriors, or eco fakers?

By comparing the search volume data to the February 2021 study, Kent & Sussex Tea and Coffee found there is also a big disparity between which British consumers claim to shop sustainably for their tea and coffee, and those who actually do.

The Northern Irish were the most likely to “claim” they shopped for their tea and coffee sustainably, and yet overall, the top-ranking Northern Irish town Derry landed in 21st position. The East Midlands and Scotland were the next likely regions to “say” they prioritised sustainability when shopping, and yet neither region managed to place any city in the top ten.

The most honest region was the West Midlands. According to the survey, people in the West Midlands were the least likely to claim they shop sustainably, which was corroborated by their search volumes. Stoke-on-Trent and Coventry, which are both in the region, ranked fourth and fifth least likely to be googling about these issues.

The North West of England downplayed their efforts the most. And although the region was the fourth least likely to rank sustainability as an important factor, it scored two cities in the top ten — Chester and Stockport.

Lastly, the towns where convenient caffeine reigns supreme are Sale, Newport and Raleigh (where residents search the least for ‘coffee beans’) and Bradford, Luton and Milton Keynes (where they search the least for ‘loose-leaf tea’).

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