SUNDAY, 26 DECEMBER 2010
However, a timely piece of research, published in the International Journal of Sustainable Development, serves to challenge us in our festive comfort zones. The Norwegian researchers conducted a statistical analysis of whether our attitudes towards the environment correlate with our household energy consumptions and came up with three key findings.
Firstly, our desire to present an environmentally conscious image bears no relation to our actual household energy consumption. Secondly, a qualitative analysis revealed that we often feel powerless to convert our environmentally friendly intentions into tangible reductions in our energy use. And thirdly, our desire to self-indulge, particularly when it comes to air travel, often prevents us translating our green mindsets into real reductions in our environmental footprint.
The researchers say, "public information and awareness campaigns can give consumers information on how to behave in an environmentally responsible way, but tend only to influence categories of consumption with little environmental impact." What is urgently needed to tackle our sense of powerlessness is simple, quantitative advice on what will and what won’t make a difference.
On the other hand, tackling our in-built desire to overindulge is much harder to do. Perhaps something to mull over as you enjoy those second helpings.
Written by Tim Middleton