Did you know that over a third of UK carbon emissions come directly from actions linked to individuals? Most of these are related to our personal travel, housing, energy use and food. Every time we purchase something, from a new pair of shoes to an electric drill, we are having an impact on the environment, known as a footprint. A few years back, Anne Owen, who used to work at SEI developed an online tool which anyone can use to calculate their household (or individual) footprint. The hope is that a greater understanding of the impact you are having as an individual will lead to changes in behaviour. The problem is that there is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that there is not a clear link between people’s knowledge, their attitudes towards the environment, and their behaviour towards the environment.
We’re doing some really interesting work with the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York, funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation looking at if and how residents of a new housing development in York change over time in terms of their environmental behaviours and attitudes. The development, Derwenthorpe, has been designed to be environmentally and socially sustainable, with various pro-environmental interventions such as a car-club scheme, well-insulated homes, a community biomass hot water system. Our role is to see whether these interventions have any impact on the household greenhouse gas emissions, and if so, which interventions are most effective.
We’re comparing this community to other new sustainable developments across the UK, and to households more generally, so if you’re interested in finding out the impact of your lifestyle on the environment whilst helping our research, please complete the tool at www.reap-petite.com