I have been quite busy recently doing some research about young students and environmental behavior, so I am going to use this blog post to present to you what I found.
More specifically, I looked into how people’s behavior changes when they move to a new country. I made the following diagram that shows what I discovered. The main line depicts how young people’s environmental awareness and behavior changes from the past to the present, as well as what they plan to do in the future. What is interesting is that these changes are a slow process, rather than happening overnight. As a result, I did not find massive differences for most people, as it takes a lot of time to educate someone about the environment and for them to change their actual behavior.
One of my findings was that the “differences between countries’ is the main factor influencing the behavior of people and making them change. This is because my study focused specifically on young students moving to a different country. These differences can be explained by more specific reasons, which are shown in the bottom line of the diagram (the “personal reasons” one is on the side, as it is a separate issue).
Overall, as you can see, what is perhaps most important is the influence of initiatives by institutions and the government. This came up as having a major effect on young people in turning them towards more eco-friendly behaviors. Additional things that play big roles are following the norms of a new country or doing something because they feel obliged towards other people. This means that when people see everyone around them doing something good for the environment (e.g. recycling), they are more inclined to do the same. Finally, what deserves specific mention is the impact of a proper education about sustainability in increasing the awareness of people. People need to be made aware of environmental issues and a good opportunity to do that is through education, for example.
To conclude this post, behavior is quite difficult to change for most people. This means that they should be provided with many opportunities to practice environmental sustainability, if we want to save our world.
Note: My team for this research project consisted of me and 3 other teammates of mine from my study, namely Bisrat Girmay, Nick Vervoord, and Bart Vogelzang.