On September the 15th President Obama released a new Executive Order focused on enhancing the use of behavioural science insights to better serve the American people. The CONSENSUS research team supports this perspective and encourages the Irish government to give similar priority to understanding why people act the way they do and the supports people need to behave in ways which are more sustainable. Our research demonstrates how better understanding of what shapes behaviour can help transform household practices.
Through its innovative HomeLabs experiments the ways in which combining and aligning regulatory, educational and technological supports can assist in that transformation towards sustainable household consumption have been investigated. Following on from the high level findings from the Eating and Washing HomeLabs published earlier in 2015, we are pleased to release the findings of surveys conducted with the same households six and twelve months following their engagement with the HomeLabs.
From these surveys we were able to see what changes stimulated by the HomeLabs have become embedded in their everyday activities. The full reports can be downloaded from here, and some of the key positive changes in eating and practices twelve months on are listed below:
- 80% of participants reported eating more sustainably
- The number of people eating meat everyday reduced by 21% and the number only eating meat two or three days a week increased from 0 to 38%
- The number of people growing their own food and sharing food doubled
- Total food waste produced had decreased from 25kg to 17kg (at six months)
- The use of storage devices to assist in identifying food close to its ‘use by’ date increased from 8% to 75%
- Use of the brown bin increased by 30% and home composting from 33% to 50%
- Following a shopping list became a strong habit for all except one household
- Showering and bathing frequency declined on average across all households
- Nearly a quarter of all participants reported an increase in the sustainability of their washing
- Taking a shorter shower is the most commonly adopted practice change across all households
- The use of the shower timer and/or meter was adopted by at least some participants in 4 out of 5 households
- A shorter shower was a strong habit for all households
- Adjusting the flow of water while showering had become a strong habit for two households
- Reducing water use while in the shower had become a strong habit for three households
- Turning off the tap while brushing teeth had become a strong habit in all households
Blog Authored by Professor Anna Davies from the geography department & the CONSENSUS Principal Investigator.
Project was funded by the EPA.