Inadvertent environmentalism and the action–value opportunity: reflections from studies at both ends of the generational spectrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

A recent turn towards a more contextually sensitive apprehension of the challenge of making everyday life less resource hungry has been partly underwritten by widespread evidence that the environmental values people commonly profess to hold do not often translate into correspondingly low impact actions. Yet sometimes the contexts of everyday life can also conspire to make people limit their consumption without ever explicitly connecting this to the environmental agenda. This paper considers this phenomenon with reference to UK studies from both ends of the generational spectrum. The first questioned how older people keep warm at home during winter and the second examined how young people get rid of no longer wanted possessions. Both found that, though the respondents involved were acting in certain ways that may be deemed comparatively low impact, they were hitherto relatively indifferent to the idea of characterising these actions as such. We outline three ways in which sustainability advocates might respond to the existence of such “inadvertent environmentalists” and consider how they might inspire studies that generate fresh intervention ideas instead of lingering on the dispiriting recognition that people do not often feel able to act for the environment.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-385
JournalLocal Environment
Volume20
Issue number3
Early online date22 Nov 2013
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015

Keywords

  • consumption, sustainability, older people, young people, value–action gap