Green-tinted glasses: how do pro-environmental citizens conceptualize environmental sustainability?
School of Arts and Humanities
Recent research has shown that many Australians see pro-environmental behaviour as desirable and identify as being green. However when compared to other countries, Australians score poorly on pro-environmental behaviour measures, engaging mostly in tokenistic pro-environmental actions, and demonstrate low levels of concern for the environment. In this article, we examine this tension through exploring the meaning of the term sustainability to Australian participants who self-identify as pro-environmental. Twenty-six interviews were conducted and analysed using a causal layered analysis. Through the examination of participants’ environmental discourse and practices, some of the deeper socio-psychological processes influencing pro-environmental behaviour are revealed. While participants aspired to be green, their actions were bound by cultural traditions and world views that perpetuate environmental degradation. Participants struggled to define the term sustainability and held self-enhancing motives for adopting what they identify as a pro-environmental identity. These findings highlight the influence of collective cultural constructs in shaping how pro-environmental behaviours are understood and enacted. © 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.