Environmental sustainability: understanding the attitudes and behaviour of Australian households

Housing Sustainability Climate change Water Australia
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Describing research that aimed to understand the water and energy use and waste reduction attitudes and practices of Australian households, this report also explains how these practices have changed over time.

Although there is a growing body of research investigating the determinants of household sustainability practices and interventions that can positively impact on them, very little of this research has been conducted in the Australian context and there is no systematic examination of how the key socio-demographic variables of tenure, household composition and household income influence household sustainability practices.

The theoretical framework adopted in this research was an extended version of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), a well-established model of decision- making. The theory provides a rigorous methodology for investigating the social and psychological determinants of behavioural intentions and actions. The research comprised two parts. A quantitative online survey of 1194 households (601 in Brisbane and 593 in Melbourne) was conducted in December 2009 which assessed the TPB variables and other focal variables. Respondents were asked questions in relation to household water conservation, energy conservation and waste minimisation. In relation to water and energy conservation, a distinction was made between everyday actions that can reduce energy and water (Curtailment actions) and installing efficient appliances that result in ongoing savings (Efficiency actions). The survey was followed up by qualitative interviews (participants were recruited from the survey participants) conducted between December 2009 and January 2010 with twenty-two householders (eleven in Brisbane and eleven in Melbourne) who varied in their tenure, household composition, and household income level. The research was conducted across two sites to examine whether the findings generalised across different climatic regions of Australia.

Authors: Kelly S Fielding, Alice Thompson, Winnifred R Louis and Clive Warren.


Image: 'A months recycling', David Singleton / flickr

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