The University of Leeds-led study found that consumers who try to live a sustainable lifestyle have difficulty deciding which product to buy. “Consumers find that being green or ethical is a very hard, time consuming, and emotional experience,” says Dr William Young. Apart from the usual issues such as price, reliability, and colour, they have the added complication of researching and weighing up all the environmental and ethical issues before purchasing a product, he explains.
Dr Young and his colleagues interviewed green consumers about their recent major purchasing decisions for goods such as fridges and computers as well as their more routine shopping habits.
These interviews, together with several focus groups, uncovered three different types of green consumer.
Selectors are probably the largest group of green consumers in the UK population. These consumers are only green in one aspect of their lives. A selector may be an avid recycler or pay a premium for green energy but sees no contradiction in leading an otherwise consumption orientated life.
Translators, are green in some aspects of their lives. They are prepared to make a certain amount of sacrifice in order to do what they perceive is the ‘right thing’. But they do not actively seek out the information that they need to work out what the ‘right thing’ is.
Exceptors are the greenest of all. Their personal philosophy about consumption makes sustainability a priority in every aspect of their lives.
Exceptors do a lot of research for every product that they buy. But they are often unsatisfied with their final decisions because they have had to compromise on many of their values to resolve the multitude of competing issues they faced: “Their heart wants to go one way, but their head goes another,” says Dr Young.
All three groups found it relatively easy to make green decisions about their food purchases, preferring to buy organic, fair trade or locally sourced food. But the story was different for the one-off decisions they made to buy domestic appliances and other household electrical goods.
For all but the greenest group of consumers, the environmental performance of a one-off major purchase decision was often traded off by price. And most green consumers did not even consider ethical issues when making decisions about less expensive products such as toasters or mp3 players. They found it hard to find any information about these products and thought it was not worth the time and effort involved.
“Consumers are very confused about what issues are important,” says Dr Young. “They need clear directions.”
The researchers found that all groups of consumers used and trusted the EU Energy Label that must be displayed on white goods and they suggest that similar scales, such as an A-G energy rating for all electronic products, could be helpful.
But consumers need more than just education to encourage them to choose green alternatives, Dr Young warns. Without financial incentives, it is unlikely that green consumer power will force industry towards more sustainable practices.
Annika Howard | alfa
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy