Sustainable water use practices: understanding and awareness of masters level students

Dexter V.L. Hunt*, Zeerak Shahab

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Present water consumption in the UK is unsustainable, with increasing societal and environmental pressures driving water stress. Personal use of water is a significant contributor to water demand and considering the number of universities and students in the UK the water use practices therein cannot be ignored. Therefore, this paper aims to deepen the theme of water consumption in the United Kingdom from the point of view of use practices for students. The originality in this research lies in better understanding whether UK Masters level students have a basic awareness of personal water consumption and water pricing and whether they have a preferred approach to reducing their water consumption—through a behavioral change, or through adoption of technolo-gies. Through use of a questionnaire approach applied to five cohorts (2017 to 2021) of Masters level students, the level of understanding and awareness towards their own domestic water use both now and in the future was demonstrated. Key findings suggest that Masters students underesti-mated their water use by 76% compared to the average UK national range and that there was an overall preference to adopt water saving technologies rather than changing user behavior (40% vs. 27%). The study concludes that it is important to approach water conservation from an SPT perspective in order to achieve meaningful change in water use practices. Qualitative and quantitative research is analyzed in light of theoretical models (i.e., Social Practice and Attitude Behavior Framework ABC) in order to make recommendations for greater societal prominence for this issue through media and education.

Original languageEnglish
Article number499
Number of pages29
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
D.V.L.H. received the financial support of the UK EPSRC under grant EP/J017698/1 (Transforming the Engineering of Cities to Deliver Societal and Planetary Wellbeing, known as Live-able Cities) and EP/P002021 (From Citizen to Co-innovator, from City Council to Facilitator: Integrating Urban Systems to Provide Better Outcomes for People, known as Urban Living Birmingham).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Attitude
  • Aware-ness
  • Behavior
  • Perception
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainability understanding
  • Sustainable behavior
  • Water use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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