What is Sydney’s Most Sustainable Suburb?

The answer to this question very much depends on what we mean by “sustainable”.

Factor analysis of RDA’s recent Human Motivations and Sustainability Survey has shown us that there are three different approaches to sustainability, being;

1. Environmental Concern – This is the belief that climate change is the most important threat we face today and that protecting the environment is more important than creating jobs. This feeling is tied to having “Most Environmentally Friendly” as a key buying driver and these individuals are prepared to pay extra for products that don’t harm the environment.

2. Sustainable Purchases – This is the belief that people should buy from companies that have proven ethical credentials and food products should be sustainably grown. These individuals also carefully read labels and educate others on the benefits of environmentally friendly products.

3, Sustainability Actions – This includes purposeful actions such as cutting down what you throw away, conserving water, recycling and being careful not to put dangerous chemicals int the household waste.

Across Sydney, we can see that each of the sustainability approaches has quite distinct areas of concentration.

The most “sustainable” suburbs in terms of Environmental Concern are beachside and inner-city areas like Bondi, Forrest Lodge. Queens Park and Fairlight.

  • Environmental Concern: Sydney – Top 100 (Map) and Top 20 (List) Suburbs: The most “sustainable” suburbs in terms of Sustainability Actions are in the Upper North Shore and Blue Mountains, like Blackheath, Leura North Turramurra and Belrose.

  • Sustainability Actions Sydney – Top 100 (Map) and Top 20 (List) Suburbs: The most “sustainable” suburbs in terms of Sustainable Purchases tend to be in near-city and multicultural areas like Harris Park, Birchgrove, Lakemba, Granville and Dover Heights.

  • Sustainability Purchases: Sydney – Top 100 (Map) and Top 20 (List) Suburbs

When you compare Environmental Concern with Sustainability Actions there is an informative pattern of five groups of Sydney suburbs, each with it’s own underlying driver. At a broader level, Environmental Concern and Sustainable Purchases have a clear and tight correlation.

  • Sydney: Environmental Concern vs Sustainability Actions (Dot Size – Sustainability Purchases)

  • Sydney: Environmental Concern vs Sustainable Purchases (Dot Size – Sustainability Actions)

The implication of these trends for marketers is that there are meaningfully different approaches to “sustainability” across Sydney suburbs. Therefore, finding the most appropriate approach to target for a given situation will be critical to achieving high levels of customer engagement.

There also appears to be a powerful consumer logic at play linking Environmental Concern with Sustainable Purchasing. This suggests an increasing need to place a conscious and ethical approach to sustainability as a core driver of commercial outcomes, particularly among young affluent urban consumers.

Sustainability measures from RDA’s Human Motivations and Sustainability Survey are available for geospatial analysis, digital audiences and data enhancement,