Bathroom blues: One-third of French consumers consider ‘eco’ gestures constraining

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Interestingly, survey findings show consumers aged 35 and under struggle most to make eco-friendly changes to bathroom habits [Getty Images]
Interestingly, survey findings show consumers aged 35 and under struggle most to make eco-friendly changes to bathroom habits [Getty Images]

Related tags: FEBEA, France, Water, water use, Energy, eco-conscious, Environment, sustainable beauty, Sustainability, planet

The French Federation for Beauty Companies (FEBEA) is pushing its ‘eco-friendly’ bathroom campaign this month, designed to encourage better water use, energy consumption and recyclability of beauty products.

Launched in partnership with the French government back in October 2022, the #2BonnesRaisons ​digital campaign aimed to build awareness around the importance of being more ecological in the bathroom, driving home the message that “every move counts”. ​The campaign recommended simple changes that could be made to bathroom routines, including reducing shower times and lowering water temperatures, turning off running water when brushing teeth or shaving, and cutting product tubes to use the last bit of a formula.

The campaign had been launched off the back of France’s wider national ‘energy sobriety’ plan​ that aimed to slash total energy consumption across the country by 10% by 2024.

Now, in January 2023, FEBEA was transforming its campaign to centre around New Year resolutions and maintain momentum as industry and consumers kickstarted a new year.

“Since January is the month of good resolutions, FEBEA would like to remind all those who want to act in favour of energy sobriety and the environment, a few eco-friendly gestures that are simple and effective to set up in 2023 in the bathroom.”

Beyond reducing water and electricity use, the campaign was also recommending no-rinse and multi-use beauty and personal care products.

1 in 3 French consider ecological changes in the bathroom a ‘constraint’

FEBEA said its eco-friendly bathroom campaign was especially timely and important, given more than one-third of French consumers still struggled to make changes to their routines.

A survey conducted in partnership with OpinionWay with 1,013 participants indicated that whilst 84% of French consumers understood eco-gestures in the bathroom had a real positive impact on the environment, 40% still believed practices adopted elsewhere in the house were more important. Results also indicated 33% had difficulties in adopting new bathroom habits, with 31% perceiving them more synonymous with constraints rather than beliefs.

Interestingly, findings showed that consumers aged 50+ were more concerned about water use, bathroom recycling and limiting product use than those aged 35 and under.

“Counterintuitively, those under 35, referred to as the ‘climate generation’, more often admit to finding it difficult to adopt these new habits,”​ FEBEA said, with 49% struggling versus just 24% of consumers aged 50+.

It was also mostly this younger generation that considered eco-friendly changes in the bathroom a constraint – 44% versus just 23% aged 50+.

Currently, FEBEA said the “environmental commitment”​ of younger consumers was reflected more in purchasing practices versus bathroom habits, with 75% preferring reusables; 67% using solid formats; 64% purchasing products in bulk; and 54% using no-rinse products. Almost half (48%) of all French consumers aged 35 and under used at least one of these products, versus just 29% of the 50+ generation.

Emmanuel Guichard, deputy director of FEBEA, said the eco-friendly bathroom campaign had therefore been designed to take a “positive approach based on benefits”​ rather than focusing on rules and dramatization.

The take-home message, Guichard said, was that taking care of yourself “thanks to simple and effective eco-gestures in your bathroom” ​was also helping to take care of the planet.

Water, water, water – changes strong already

But it wasn’t all uphill for French consumers. Despite some still struggling to shift bathroom habits, survey findings indicated plenty had already made clear changes, largely around water use.

Findings showed 81% had already reduced showering times; 86% turned off running water whilst applying soap or shampoo; and 54% took showers every other day.

This was especially important, FEBEA said, given hot water production remained a “major source of energy consumption”, ​the vast majority of which was used for hygiene purposes.

Water use, particularly hot water use, remained a crucial topic when working to improve consumer-use of beauty and personal care products in the bathroom.

Back in November 2022, senior futurologist Helga Hertsig-Lavocah said shorter, colder showers were set to become a very real and mainstream movement​ amongst consumers, so it would be vital industry innovated product formulas accordingly. For true change to be successful, the transition had to be easy for consumers, Hertsig-Lavocah said.

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