Adopting a Climate-Friendly Lifestyle: Are Canadians Willing to Embrace a Sustainable Lifestyle?

Eddie Sheppard

Eddie Sheppard

From August 3 to 7, 2023, Abacus Data conducted a national survey of 1,650 Canadians (18+) to assess their perceptions of sustainable living.

In this survey, we examined the actions Canadians presently engage in (or would consider taking) to help address climate change, along with the perceived obstacles linked with adopting more sustainable behaviours. The results underscore a contrast between Canadians’ inclination to tackle climate change in their personal and professional spheres and the perceived difficulties that hinder their capacity to convert this intention into action.

Personal Actions to Address Climate Change

When examining efforts taken to help address climate change, a considerable number of Canadians are actively engaging in impactful daily behaviors. Notably, 81% partake in recycling and composting, 72% practice energy-saving practices like turning off lights, 59% reduce water usage, and 57% have integrated energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting into their homes. Additionally, many Canadians expressed their readiness to support sustainable and eco-conscious initiatives: 58% would actively support businesses with such principles, while another 58% would encourage the adoption of green initiatives at work. Furthermore, 64% would embrace renewable energy sources, and 52% would consider purchasing an electric vehicle.

These findings underscore that a significant segment of Canadians have already engaged in everyday actions that contribute to addressing climate change, and moreover, they display a keen willingness to undertake more substantial personal commitments towards this cause.

Perceived Barriers to Adopting More Sustainable Practices

Despite a willingness to take significant steps toward mitigating climate change, Canadians identified multiple obstacles impeding their action. Foremost among these barriers is financial limitations, a concern shared by 53%, followed by a perceived lack of access to reasonably priced products, cited by 50%. Beyond these, challenges arise from limited awareness of sustainable lifestyle choices (30%) and time constraints (27%). Collectively, these findings underscore the need to enlighten Canadians about the accessibility and affordability of sustainable living options. Moreover, disseminating information about these products and services holds the potential to amplify awareness and, consequentially, foster greater adoption.

Perceived Affordability of a Climate-Friendly Lifestyle

As emphasized, financial constraints stand out as the primary barrier to leading a more sustainable way of life. This is starkly highlighted by the fact that 32% of Canadians are uncertain about the relative cost of a climate-friendly lifestyle, while 31% perceive adopting such a lifestyle as more expensive. In essence, these findings accentuate a lack of awareness among Canadians regarding the economic advantages tied to embracing a climate-friendly lifestyle. This situation presents organizations with a compelling opening to educate Canadians about the financial gains associated with choosing eco-friendly products and services, especially for those choices that do not require a prohibitive investment. Specifically, imparting information about the long-term financial savings potential could serve as a pivotal incentive for greater adoption.

The Upshot

According to Eddie Sheppard: In the realm of addressing climate change, many Canadians demonstrate a commendable commitment to sustainable living through a range of impactful daily behaviors as well as a willingness to embrace weightier undertakings, including supporting eco-conscious businesses, advocating for green initiatives at work, adopting renewable energy sources, and considering electric vehicles.

However, amidst this strong willingness to act, Canadians perceive significant obstacles to a greener lifestyle. Chief among these barriers are financial limitations, a concern shared by 53%. Perceived financial barriers may be holding people back, especially if there is a large up-front investment required to adopt greener approaches. In line with this, 31% perceive sustainability as a costlier path, while 32% remain uncertain about its economic implications. This knowledge gap creates an ideal opportunity for organizations to highlight the financial benefits tied to adopting eco-friendly choices.

Overall, this survey underscores a strong willingness to combat climate change, alongside perceived hurdles like financial limitations and knowledge gaps. Despite these challenges, the prevalent openness to adopting climate-friendly lifestyle choices offers a promising avenue for education and advocacy. By promoting awareness about the accessibility, affordability, and/or long-term financial benefits of sustainable living, organizations can equip Canadians with the information and confidence needed to make lifestyle decisions that drive meaningful change.


The survey was conducted with 1,650 Canadian adults from August 3 to 7, 2023. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.4%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region.

This survey was paid for by Abacus Data Inc.

Abacus Data follows the CRIC Public Opinion Research Standards and Disclosure Requirements that can be found here:

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