Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Social Learning Tools for Environmentally Sustainable Consumption Behavior in Primary Schools

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Social Learning Tools for Environmentally Sustainable Consumption Behavior in Primary Schools

Article excerpt


"Human activity is putting such strain on the natural foundations of the earth that the ability of the Planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted" (Glasser,2009). Multiple problems that threaten environment and human life- like: global warming, ozone depletion, water and air pollution, loss of species and farmland erosion stand related to overconsumption of resources (Tanner, 2003; Said, 2003; Steg, 2009) production pattern and other human activity (Said, 2003; Hanss, 2013). Household consumption alone accounts for more than 60% of all environmental impacts (Park, 2011; Schrader, 2011). UN's Millennium Development Goals (2010) underlined sustainable consumption as important for environmental sustainability and combating poverty. Sustainable consumption simultaneously optimizes environmental, social, and economic consequences of acquisition, use and disposing off in order to meet the needs of both current and future generations (Phipps, 2013). One way to generate an enduring impact on curtailing and even reversing negative impact of household consumption activities on environment is by social learning (SL) (Glasser, 2009) and as Monroe (2003) suggests, this could have important implications for environmental education. Additionally, Glasser (2009) emphasizes that sustainable development is a lifewide and lifelong endeavor, involving individuals, institutions and societies. Special role for children is proposed as formation of attitudes towards environment begins at an early age (Bryant, 1977) and children play an important role in deciding or influencing present and future consumption patterns. To equip children with appropriate skills for making correct choices regarding environmental issues, SL could help gain concepts faster better (Light, 2000; Said, 2007). In this backdrop it makes sense to investigate which SL tools (active and/or passive tools) are perceived to be appropriate by teachers for delivering environmentally sustainable consumption behavior (ESCB) to children. While child's SL covers interactions it's with parents, teacher and peers; current study focuses only their interactions with teachers. This study is expected to give a broad overview of teaching tools perceived to be appropriate and effective for children. It is expected, judicious choice of tools by teachers would lead to better impact on children's understanding about environmental issues and their impact.

2.Literature Review

This section gives a brief on sustainable development, then presents meanings and relationship amongst terms that are often used in context of sustainability and/or sustainable development. Later sub-sections extended applications of ESCB to children's context and the role education could play in enhancing desirable ESCBs among children. Last sub-section puts the role of SL learning and its tools (active and passive) for sustainability education.

2.1Sustainability, ESCB, Children

Rising environmental concern made "sustainability" the key issue in the twentieth century at multiple international forums - United Nations Conference on Human Environment, 1972; United Nations World Charter for Nature, 1982; World Commission on Environment and Development, 1992 and later at World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, 2002. They were aimed at enhancing awareness and attitudes about environmental issues. Sustainable Development refers to "meeting the needs of current generations without limiting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Burtland Commission, 1987) and focuses mainly on three dimensions of sustainability: economic, social and environmental(Pezzoli, 1997, see figure 1).

Other terms related to environmental sustainability are: pro-environmental behavior, environmentally sustainable behavior, environment friendly behavior and environmentally sustainable consumption behavior; these are often used interchangeably (Thogersen, 2002) and have been defined by overlapping meanings (Kollmuss,2002; Eialm,2012; Eialm,2012;Sawitri, 2015). …

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