Forget the Gucci, Going Tofu is How People Are Getting to a Net Zero Future

By Miro Cernetig and Evi Mustel

As Canada’s governments wrangle the carbon tax, eye-popping population growth, and how green the country should be to fight climate change, there’s some interesting news from the grassroots of Metro Vancouver.

According to a poll conducted for CityAge by Mustel Group, while eight out of ten Metro Vancouver residents said they are concerned or very concerned about region’s carbon footprint —  the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted into the air — seventy per cent of people don’t expect the leaders of the region’s 21 municipalities can do much to get to Net Zero.

So people are taking things into their own hands to reduce their carbon footprint, in some surprising ways that will have impact on consumer spending and government policy. Here are some of the key findings of our survey:

  • Going vegan is in vogue. Two out of three people report they are going at least a bit granola. To do their bit to get to Net Zero, 46 percent of respondents say they are already eating plant-based foods some or all of the time. Another 20 percent are prepared to do so. Thirty-four percent are rejecting the going tofu solution.
  • Clothing retailers beware. Eight out of ten people are giving up going Gucci or Gap. Reducing clothing purchases, or buying used clothes, is now the declared habit of 62 percent of Metro Vancouver consumers. While another 17 percent are prepared to go for the more threadbare option.
  • Post-pandemic public transit is back. Two out of three people are ready to give up the gas guzzlers. Forty-four percent of people use public transit or low emissions travel, while another 22 percent are ready to leave behind the car.
  • Bye-bye jet setting: Six out of ten people are reducing their air travel or prepared to do so. Specifically, 42 percent of people said they have reduced or are reducing air travel. Another 18 percent say they are prepared to avoid airports.
  • Recycling and stopping food waste is embedded into the Metro Vancouver psyche. Recycling and limiting food waste is now a part of their way of life, 88 percent of people report. Another 8 percent say they are prepared to follow suit. The anti-recycling Luddites now represent a mere 5 percent of the population.
  • Are EVs and heat pumps popular? Yes, they are catching on, with about 20 percent of people saying they have bought both items. Still, more people have planted trees, with one out of three people going the tree-planting route. So there’s more work ahead to sell these more expensive low-carbon technologies.
  • Oh, also forget carbon offsets. They aren’t going mainstream. Only 8 percent of people have ever bought a personal carbon offset. Seven out of ten have no intention to do so.

What’s the valuable insights of these findings? It indicates there are clear lifestyle and purchasing shifts that Metro Vancouver’s 2.6 million residents are embracing. We suspect similar trends will be found in other Canadian regions.

One of the key takeaways for our leaders is that while there is skepticism about the ability of politicians and government to get Canada to Net Zero, Canadians have a clear desire to move to that future through their own, everyday actions.

We invite readers and policy makes to look at the data from this survey, carried out for CityAge by the Mustel Group, found here.

See article in the Vancouver Sun here.

Evi Mustel is the President of Mustel Group, a Vancouver-based market and opinion research company. Miro Cernetig is co-founder of, a platform for ideas, technology and people building the world’s cities.