‘…because if we keep going the way we are, by the time you are all 50 we will be at the point of no return.’
I sat there imagining us speeding along a highway at 100 kilometres an hour with no brakes and the steering wheel locked into position. We knew where we were going was not somewhere we wanted to be, but despite our efforts there was nothing we could do to slow down. We’d eventually reach a turnoff- ‘The Point of No Return’ reflecting against the headlights, looming and inevitable. We knew it was going to happen, but as the car reared to the left we couldn’t help thinking that maybe we should have done something sooner…
‘…and that’s all for today guys, I’ll see you next week.’
I walked out of class that day with a ticking time bomb over my head and the weight of the world’s environmental issues on my shoulders. The lack of control that all-too-often accompanies any discussion of the unticked items of the world’s ‘to-do’ list lingered like a smog. I sat there shocked at how we could be so naïve, angry at the state of the world, frustrated at the nature of society, all as I sipped from a single-use plastic water bottle.
This experience lit somewhat of a fire in my curiosity (but only a small one so the smoke didn’t damage the ozone). The irony of my concern compared with my actions made me realise that it is not enough to simply care about the environment, because it seems to some extent we all do. Instead, it is the actions that we take as a result of our thoughts and feelings that are the vehicle for change.
Therefore, my research will revolve around exploring whether there is a correlation between pro-environmental attitudes and pro-environmental behaviours within the millennial generation, and more specifically, to what extent our environmental attitudes influence our environmental (or not so) behaviours in day-to-day life. Are we passive advocates to the environmental cause where our actions are muted by the volume of our words? Or are we as a generation the catalysts of change, actively trying to re-navigate the course on which the world is headed?
An insight into just how close we are getting to the point of no return
I will use studies conducted by Felonneau & Becker along with other academics to determine exactly what ‘pro-environmental’ attitudes are before attempting to find a correlation between these attitudes and sustainable behaviours. This will be done primarily through a survey to establish an individual’s attitudes before comparing the results with the practice of environmentally friendly behaviours such as the use of re-usable coffee cups, the purchase of plastic water bottles and the recognition of sustainable and non-sustainable cosmetic companies.
After the data is collected and analysed, I then hope to conduct a focus to supplement my research with some qualitative data which will help justify the trends demonstrated in the survey. This may also be complemented by an interview with an environmental academic at UOW to discuss the results, depending on time and commitment restraints.
Participation in the survey, focus groups and interviews will be completely voluntary and I intend to be respectful of any participant’s ideas and requests during the data collection. In carrying out this research I also understand that it is only able to provide information about a small segment of society despite the issue being one that affects the whole. While I recognise that this study is a small piece of a much larger puzzle, in the words of Gandhi; ‘You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.’
Photo credit: Mike Baldwin