The ‘Blue Planet effect’ and your cafe

A common narrative is that increasing education and awareness around environmental issues, such as plastic pollution, will cause people to change their behaviour. But this is not necessarily the truth.

The case of Blue Planet II

Although Blue Planet II raised awareness of environmental issues, it did not necessarily change behaviour.

The BBC documentary Blue Planet II contained images of plastic floating through the water column, and was said to have caused people to significantly reduce their plastic consumption. This was known as the ‘Blue Planet effect’. However, while it did raise awareness, a new study has found that it may not have discouraged people from choosing plastic.

The researchers conducted an experiment with 150 people split into two groups. Both groups completed a questionnaire that measured their understanding of and attitudes to marine conservation issues. One group was shown the original 2001 Blue Planet documentary, which contained no plastic or ocean conservation messages. The other group was shown Blue Planet II. Afterwards, both groups filled in the same questionnaire. Before and after both showings, participants were also offered a choice of drinks and snacks, either in paper or plastic packaging.

Although watching Blue Planet II increased participants’ understanding of marine conservation issues, it did not change their choice between plastic and paper.

How this affects your cafe or restaurant

Don’t rely on consumer awareness alone to prompt sustainable behaviour! Actively encourage it and see the results.

If increased understanding and awareness does not cause customers to choose more sustainable options, it’s down to you to prompt them. Advertise your sustainability – whether you charge less for reusable cups, whether your foodservice packaging is compostable. Give your customers these options – and let them know that you are giving them. Tell them why they should take you up on your sustainability. People may not automatically go to the more sustainable cafe or restaurant, but with signs to remind them, they are more likely to.

And make sure your coffee and food is the best. That’s the surest way to keep people coming back.


Information taken from Mirage News.

Read about why it’s time to be truthful about environmental claims, and how COVID-19 can help the circular economy, on our blog.


Article by Tallis Baker

Planet Friendly Packaging acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we work.

Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by COVID-19. Stay safe.