Dr Katharine Welsh and Dr Rebecca Collins (Department of Geography and International Development, University of Chester)
Results from our ongoing study demonstrated that lockdowns changed UK households’ consumption activities. Through small changes associated with ‘sustainable lifestyles’ (e.g. reducing food waste), lockdown appears to have catalysed behaviours aligned with ‘inadvertent environmentalism’, where environmental benefits result from actions driven by ‘other-than-environmental’ concerns (e.g. saving money, health; Hitchings et al. 2015). 83% of our participants reported they felt motivated to sustain changes made during lockdown but cited ‘old routine’ as a barrier.
In an attempt to address these barriers, we have developed a smartphone app ‘Home Grown Green’ which fuses elements of Social Practice Theory (Shove et al. 2012) to drive socially visible changes with ‘nudge’ theory (Thaler & Sunstein 2008) to help maintain or reinvigorate engagement and motivation with these small lifestyle changes. Our app gamifies household consumption practices using stars, badges and leader boards to encourage actions with lower environmental impacts. It also offers suggestions and research-based facts to educate and support the user. We are currently at the Beta testing phase of the app and you can find out more about the app at this event.