doug mohr November 23, 2006

Posted on behalf of Vincent Carragher (

Hi guys;

I am involved in a CBSM project whereby we attempt to create environmental literacy and which is relevant to our study community and therefore engender ownership of the sustainable information. We hope that this ownership bridges the attitude behaviour gap. This gap or hurdle is significant and I believe we need new ways of jumping this hurdle; many people in the western world know what the sustainable choice is but do not convert that into behaviour. If they do its not repetitive and does not become codified. I believe that its worth trying out ownership of any endeavour to see if the participants carry on with the basic tenets of the original sustainable behaviour promoted. Anyway I am using an ecological footprint of the households in our locality (based on local figures gained from a questionnaire type survey) performed by the students of our primary school. This tells us how much carbon dioxide we emit in our community each year per person. Furthermore it breaks it up into individual consumption categories of car transport, household energy consumption, food consumption, water consumption and of course last but not least waste production. We repeat the study yearly. When we calculate the carbon dioxide emission figures, in the school, we devise an environmental action campaign. This sponsors in-school art and slogan competitions with sustainable prizes for winners. These slogans help roll out our environmental action campaign to our community. The great thing for any scientist is the first year of the study provides a baseline. Other years may show improvements in sustainable behaviour for example our reported figures in year 2 show a 56% reduction in waste volumes going to landfill and a concomitant increase in home composting. This year we see many parents walking children to school and a reduction in the 'mega mileage moms' about the place! Anyway I am trying to show that ownership of a meaningful community tool (ike an EF methodology)and its product sustainable message can bridge the attitude behaviour gap. Any similar studies? Anywhere? All information are bottom-up figures ie: actual consumption and waste assimilation of each household. Have you any ideas how we might show or prove that our EF study is changing certain behaviours and that some other competing signal did not do it. For instance it might be argued that the above 56% reduction was due at least in part to growing public recognition of our waste obesity epidemic! Any body with any thoughts on how to bridge the attitude behaviour gap? Ideas do need to have a little more than mere environmental awareness campaigns.

Regards and good luck
Vincent Carragher
CER, UL, Limerick, Ireland