Evaluating Environmental Behavior Change

Environmental behavior change

We encounter campaigns attempting to change our behaviors daily. Increasingly, environmental behavior change is used as a policy tool to inspire individual change rather than enforce change through regulation or law (Castree, Hulme, and Proctor 2018, 748). In Barrs essay “Environmental behavior change,” the author discusses two major perspectives of the theory- behavior change that works to roll back state control and promote neoliberalization by placing responsibility on consumers or behavior change influenced by the state that seeks to govern the choices that people make. The author also explains the major theories and research on the topic, citing the dominant psychological approach, where behavioral intentions, social norms, attitudes influence reported behaviors and the sociological approach, where the primary focus rests on ‘social practices or routines based on social and economic structures. Ultimately, Barr argues there is no agreement as to what environmental behavior change is, or how to best study it.

The major fault of this short essay is Barrs indecisiveness. Rather than evaluate the dichotomies with behavior change theory, Barr explains both, giving them equal weight and then concludes that we can’t say much else. I would argue that there is more to say. The author also did not convince me to care about the topic. Theory of behavior change is greatly important to human impact on other humans and the non-human world- and this essay did not address how essential human impact is. Discussing behavior change doesn’t have to revolve around individual action alone. It is hugely meaningful across institutional action as well.

Environmental behavior change relates to my framework. Certifications are a salient example of environmental behavior change in practice, toeing the line between individual action (from consumers) and institutional actions (setting new, higher minimum global standards). Certified B Corp is an even more intriguing application as it operates in individual and institutional directions at once- the passing of new state laws, which is providing states with more control of individual behavior, and promoting businesses certification to brand for consumers willing to pay for ethical goods. While I do not expect my thesis to examine the psychological aspects of behavior change, it is important to my broader interest in ethical consumerism and the switch to a green economy.

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