Sustainable Lifestyle

G. Lazzarini (chair); M. Verain; R. Tobias; H. Bruderer Enzler. Location: A3

Does Environmental Friendly equal Healthy? Consumers’ Perception of Environmental Friendliness and Healthiness of Protein Products

G. A. Lazzarini, J. Zimmermann,  V. H. M. Visschers, & M. Siegrist

The increasing food production and consumption have major impacts on the environment. At the same time, human diets worldwide are becoming unhealthier, which is increasingly leading to health problems. These issues are highly influenced by consumers’ everyday food choices. To develop strategies promoting sustainable food products, we need to know whether consumers relate the healthiness of food products to their environmental impacts, and on which criteria they base their evaluations of environmental friendliness and healthiness. In this study, we explored how consumers assess environmental friendliness and healthiness of food products. We presented 30 protein products (e.g., pork sausage and tofu), which varied in provenance, production method and degree of processing, to 80 participants. They were asked to sort these products firstly according to the perceived environmental friendliness and secondly according to their healthiness. The rankings were compared to the products’ environmental burden values (based on life cycle analyses) and to the products’ nutritional values. We present the relations between the healthiness and environmental friendliness rankings. The main criteria, which respondents used to rank the products are identified by means of multidimensional scaling. Further, the differences between consumers’ assessments and the environmental burden and nutritional value scores are discussed.

Promoting healthy and sustainable diets in consumer segments based on food-category attribute importance

M.C.D. Verain, S.J. Sijtsema, H. Dagevos, & G. Antonides

Policy measures are frequently aimed at encouraging consumers to adopt more healthy and sustainable dietary patterns. Dietary guidelines state that changes towards less animal-based and more plant-based diets are beneficial in terms of both healthiness and sustainability of the diet. Communication on these guidelines should be most effective when tailored to specific consumer segments. The current study segments consumers based on the importance they attach to sustainability, health, taste and price. Pro-self, average and sustainable conscious segments have been identified. Different ways of communicating the dietary guidelines have been tested. For pro-self and average consumers, the communication of both health and sustainability benefits made them think most about sustainability. For conscious consumers, either the communication of health and sustainability benefits or sustainability benefits alone was most effective. For both pro-selves and average consumers, the communication conditions resulted in minimal differences in dietary intentions. Conscious consumers showed the most healthy and sustainable meal intentions, notably regarding meat consumption, when both health and sustainability benefits were communicated. The findings indicate the importance of tailoring dietary messages to specific target groups. Implications are formulated to effectively stimulate healthier and more sustainable consumer food choices.

Communicating the presence of micro-pollutants in drinking water: Understanding the affect heuristic to reduce the consumption of bottled water

R. Tobias

Packaging and transport of bottled water require large amounts of energy and lead to much CO2 emissions. In countries with high-quality tap water, such environmental burden is not justified. However, many people are reluctant to consume tap water due to the presence of micro-pollutants – substances in extremely small concentrations. In Switzerland, water providers have to inform their consumers about such micro-pollutants and the study investigates how this reduces trust in tap-water quality. In 2013, 828 participants in Zurich (Switzerland) filled out a questionnaire that gathered data on psychological constructs before and after one of 12 different messages on a hypothetical contamination. Linear regressions show that it is mainly the affective reactions to the messages that determines the deterioration of perceived quality, which in turn determines the reduction in trust. Affective reactions are less negative, if trust before risk appraisal is higher. However, besides this positive effect, persons with high levels of trust before risk appraisal show higher reductions in perceived quality and trust. How the information is presented has significant but only small effects. We conclude that people use the affect heuristic when evaluating the risks from micro-pollutants and, thus, messages should mainly be designed to reduce negative affective reactions.

Commitment through consumer monitors in promoting the reuse of clothes: Environmental education in collaboration with environmental NPO

H. Maeda & Y. Hirose

We examined the effectiveness of environmental education programmes in the reuse of clothes; specifically, in the donation of unnecessary clothes and purchase of used clothes. The programme was conducted in 2012 in collaboration with an environmental NPO in Nagoya. We provided information to consumer monitors about the reuse system managed by the NPO and asked them to discuss ideas for resolving factors that prevent people from reusing clothes. The programme was based on the two-phase model of environmentally conscious behaviour (Hirose, 1994). We administered a questionnaire survey three times: T1 (a week before the programme) as a pre-survey; T2 as the first post-survey (promptly after the completion of the programme); and T3 as a second post-survey (one and a half months after the programme). The results were as follows: (1) Half of the participants bought used clothes from thrift shops operated by the NPO after the programme, and their frequency of purchase of used goods increased; (2) half of the participants demonstrated initiative by recommending their family or friends use reuse stations and thrift shops; and (3) the correlation between evaluations of social norms and reuse behaviour increased. The present study suggests that commitment through consumer monitors encourages reuse behaviour.

Environmental concern and income as predictors of carbon emissions: Are they equally related to emissions by mobility, housing and food?

H. Bruderer Enzler

Switzerland, like many other countries, has set targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Private households play an important part in achieving these aims. Therefore, it is important to know which factors are related to emissions. So far, most studies have focused on income, household size and other structural factors while neglecting the potential relevance of attitudinal variables such as environmental concern. Those studies that did examine environmental attitudes mostly were based on "intent-oriented" measures of behaviour instead of actual GHG emissions. This contribution attempts to bridge this gap by assessing GHG emissions as a dependent variable and by using a wide range of variables as predictors, including income and environmental concern. To do so, I use data from a large representative general population survey, the Swiss Environmental Survey 2007 (n = 3369, Diekmann & Meyer 2008) and a subsequent life cycle assessment of the individuals' emissions (based on Notter, Meyer & Althaus 2013). The results indicate that higher GHG emissions are associated with higher income as well as higher levels the environmental concern. This is particularly the case for mobility, less so for housing and food. Thus, both income and environmental concern are important predictors of GHG emissions.