• Eco-friendly Brits are twice as happy as those who engage in less ‘green’ behaviour
  • Almost two-thirds of people (64 per cent) feel happy when partaking in ‘green’ tasks. Some of the top mood-boosting eco-friendly activities include using bags for life (54%), flattening old cardboard boxes for recycling (50%) and cycling or walking instead of driving (43%)
  • More than two-thirds of Brits (71%) say the ‘small things’ in life now give them the most pleasure. Small pleasures in life include sunny days (54%), sleeping in a freshly made bed (41%) and a simple cuppa (38%)
  • 16% of Brits currently describe themselves as unhappy

With week-long holidays abroad, HIIT sessions at the gym and nights out with friends off the agenda for locked down Brits, it might seem there’s not a whole lot to be happy about. But new research reveals there’s an easy way for the public to boost their mood – by going green.

According to a new poll of 2,000 adults by cardboard campaign group Beyond the Box, eco-friendly people who prioritise sustainable behaviour by doing something green 20 or more times a week, like recycling, are twice (2.4) as happy as those who are green 0 to 2 times a week.

And the research reveals environmentally friendly behaviours can directly influence feelings of happiness, with almost two in three (64 per cent) reporting they feel happy when they do good deeds for the environment, while half (50 per cent) say making sustainability a priority brings them joy.

Eco-friendly tasks like using bags for life while shopping (54 per cent), flattening old cardboard boxes for recycling (50 per cent) and upcycling (35 per cent) all get endorphins pumping for many Brits, while the typical Briton does something positive for the environment as often as 10 times every week.

Sorting out the recycling also puts a smile on the faces of those polled (49 per cent) – as does cycling or walking instead of driving (43 per cent), and growing fruit and veg at home (34 per cent).

Andy Barnetson, spokesperson for Beyond the Box comments: “We all know the positive impact environmentally friendly behaviour can have on the planet, so it’s great to see there is evidence being ‘green’ can help to boost our mood too – particularly during a year that’s been very challenging for so many people.”

“It’s brilliant to see that so many people enjoy doing their bit for the planet. And why shouldn’t they? Seemingly small actions, like recycling cardboard packaging, really do make a difference, so we all deserve a pat on the back for our efforts.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than a third of Brits (36 per cent) have made being eco-friendly a bigger priority, but there’s room for improvement. Eight in 10 of those polled (81 per cent) admit they could do even more to be ‘green’.

From wasting less water (30 per cent) to reducing food waste (27 per cent) and monitoring energy usage more closely (24 per cent), many of those polled say they could be doing more.

The new study also revealed Brits have learned to find happiness from ‘simple pleasures’ since the start of the pandemic. More than two thirds (71 per cent) of those polled reported it is the small things in life which give them the most pleasure, while two in five respondents (60 per cent) report the impact of COVID-19 has inspired them to seek happiness in little things like sunny days (52 per cent), peace and quiet (43 per cent) and a simple cuppa (38 per cent).  

A dutiful one in four respondents (24 per cent) admitted personal admin, from sorting out bills and insurance, to filing tax returns now bring them happiness, while more than a third (38 per cent) admit the mere sight of a cardboard package on the doorstep sparks joy.

“It’s not surprising that with the year Brits have just endured, many of us are looking to the small pleasures in life to keep us feeling positive and boost our moods,” adds Barnetson.  

The Beyond the Box study found cardboard was considered the most eco-friendly type of packaging (77 per cent), ahead of paper (65 per cent) and glass (57 per cent). What’s more, many consumers (23 per cent) now actively seek out products which are packaged in ‘sustainable’ materials.

“We depend on cardboard more than you might think, and it’s become an even more important packaging material while much of the UK has been staying at home,” continues Barnetson. “Whether it’s books to keep us entertained or restaurant meal kits, receiving a cardboard package in the post often feels like Christmas and Britons will have seen many of their home deliveries packaged in cardboard over the past 12 months.

“But this reliance is no bad thing. Cardboard is one of the most sustainable types of packaging, given its strong, 80% UK recycling rate. It’s also made using renewable material and, if worst comes to worse, it will biodegrade – although we’d urge everyone to recycle this material wherever they possible can. By recycling cardboard, the paper fibres used to create it can be used again and again. And we think that’s certainly something to smile about!”

The new research is released just days ahead of the UN’s annual International Day of Happiness (20th March 2021).


Try these smile-saving eco-friendly activities to support the planet and give your mood a boost.

Green Task Response (%)
1.          Taking the recycling out 56%
2.         Turning off lights which aren’t in use 55%
3.          Remembering to take my reusable bag with me when shopping 54%
4.         Flattening old cardboard boxes 50%
5.          Sorting out the recycling into the right box 49%
6.         Using a reusable water bottle 48%
7.          Turning things off at the socket when not in use 44%
8.         Only filling the kettle with as much water as needed 44%
9.         Cycling or walking instead of driving 43%
10.    Avoiding single use items 41%
11.     Rinsing out the recycling 40%
12.     Washing clothes at 30 degrees 36%
13.     Upcycling household items 35%
14.    Batch cooking to reduce food waste 35%
15.     Growing your own fruit and veg 34%
16.    Putting leftover food into a compost bin 34%
17.     Shopping for plastic packaging-free fruit and/or veg 34%
18.    Shopping for plastic packaging-free fruit and/or veg 32%
19.    Taking lunch into work instead of buying things 32%
20.    Monitoring heating usage 31%
21.     Using a reusable coffee cup 29%
22.    Using eco-friendly cleaning products 26%
23.    Buying second-hand clothing and other items 26%
24.    Taking shorter showers 25%
25.    Encouraging others to make a positive impact on the environment 24%
26.    Picking up litter 24%
27.     Using soap and/or shampoo bars to reduce plastic bottles 24%
28.    Finding and cooking with new vegetarian or vegan foods 23%
29.    Using public transport 20%
30.    Driving an electric vehicle 9%
31.     Paying for carbon offsetting when holidaying 9%


Life’s Little Pleasures Response (%)
1.          Sunny days 52%
2.         Peace and quiet 43%
3.          Chocolate 41%
4.         Sleeping in a freshly-made bed 41%
5.          A cup of tea 38%
6.         Seeing flowers bloom 34%
7.          Getting stuck into a good book 33%
8.         Receiving a package in the post 33%
9.         Finding a bargain online 32%
10.    Watching your favourite movies 31%
11.     My pets 30%
12.     Payday 28%
13.     The smell of freshly washed clothes 27%
14.    Having a stable internet connection 27%
15.     When your favourite song comes on the radio 26%
16.    Lie-ins 25%
17.     Getting personal admin done – e.g. sorting out insurance, bills, completing a tax return etc 24%
18.    Having a bath 24%
19.    Hearing children’s laughter 22%
20.    Tidying/cleaning 22%


Notes to Editors

One Poll Survey: 2,000 respondents, 19-23rd February 2021.

About Beyond the Box

Bringing together experts from leading UK packaging companies, Beyond the Box, launched by the Confederation of Paper Industries, helps Britons learn more about the nation’s sustainable packaging choice: Cardboard.

Visit Cardboard.org.uk for more information.

For more information, including spokesperson requests, please contact Sophie Menzies or Marlise Green at Richmond & Towers Communications:

Sophie@rtc.london / Marlise@rtc.london / 020 7388 7421