Eco-friendly behaviours involving meaningful interactions with other people, such as buying food at a farmer’s market to promote sustainability, were more strongly linked to life satisfaction.

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Engaging in eco-friendly behaviours can promote well-being say SFU researchers

November 07, 2017
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By Justin Wong

Is being green good for you? An SFU research team seems to think so.

A study led by SFU researchers Michael Schmitt, Lara Aknin and Jonn Axsen has revealed that the more frequently North Americans engage in eco-friendly behaviours (EFB) the more they report satisfaction with their lives.

“These findings run counter to what many people and policy makers tend to assume about trying to convince people to change their current habits and choose eco-friendly behaviours,” says Schmitt, a professor of psychology.

He, along with psychology professor Lara Aknin, and Jonn Axsen, a professor of resource and environmental management, collaborated on the study with co-author Rachael Shwom from Rutgers University. They found behaviours that were more costly in terms of time, money and effort were more strongly related to life satisfaction than behaviours that had lower costs.

Their study has been published in Ecological Economics.

The researchers also found eco-friendly behaviours involving meaningful interactions with other people, such as buying food at a farmer’s market to promote sustainability, were more strongly linked to life satisfaction.

The researchers analyzed how performing a variety of EFBs predicted life satisfaction among people in Canada and the U.S. All but two of the 39 EFBs analyzed were positively related to life satisfaction. This shows that the relationship generalizes across many different types of EFBs, which range from turning off the tap while brushing your teeth to participating in local environmental activities.

“These findings have important implications for how we think about changing our behaviours in ways that we need to, if we want to mitigate climate change and other environmental problems,” says Schmitt.

“Instead of thinking of these changes only in terms of what they cost us, individuals and policy makers need to see eco-friendly behaviours as opportunities to do good for the environment, for humans and for other species. As contributions to the well-being of others, eco-friendly behaviours offer opportunities to experience a meaningful and satisfied life.”

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