You might be wondering what core values have to do with the environment and sustainability. Well, today, you’re in for an enlightening journey.
Research shows that understanding and aligning with our core values can significantly influence our attitudes and behaviors toward the environment (Corner et al., 2014)1. So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of values and find out how they can help us become more environmentally conscious and sustainable in our everyday lives.
It’s no secret that our planet is facing unprecedented challenges. From climate change to plastic pollution, the consequences of our actions are increasingly affecting the environment and the well-being of future generations. While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of these issues, each of us has the power to make a difference through our daily choices and actions. As Anne-Marie Bonneau, a well-known zero-waste chef, once said, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” (Bonneau, n.d.)2. By understanding and embracing our core values, we can find the motivation and drive to adopt eco-friendly habits and contribute to a more sustainable future.
In the following sections, we’ll delve into the concept of core values and their impact on decision-making. We’ll also discuss how becoming more environmentally conscious and embracing sustainable practices can lead to a better quality of life for ourselves and those around us. Lastly, we’ll explore the power of community and collaboration in driving positive change for our planet. So, let’s begin this exciting journey of self-discovery and environmental stewardship together!
Understanding Core Values
Core values are the fundamental beliefs and guiding principles that shape our decisions and behaviors (Schwartz, 1992)3. They reflect what’s most important to us and can serve as a compass, helping us navigate the complexities of life. Our core values are often shaped by our upbringing, cultural background, and personal experiences, and they may evolve over time as we gain new insights and perspectives.
When it comes to the environment and sustainability, some common core values might include:
- Respect for nature: Recognizing the intrinsic value of the natural world and our interconnectedness with it.
- Stewardship: Embracing our responsibility to care for and protect the environment for future generations.
- Simplicity: Seeking a lifestyle that prioritizes experiences and relationships over material possessions.
By identifying and understanding our core values, we can better align our actions with our beliefs, making it easier to adopt more environmentally friendly habits.
Becoming Environmentally Conscious
Becoming environmentally conscious starts with recognizing the impact of our individual choices on the environment. From the food we eat to the products we buy, our decisions have ripple effects that extend far beyond our immediate surroundings. Research indicates that when people are aware of their environmental impact, they are more likely to adopt eco-friendly behaviors (Kollmuss & Agyeman, 2002)4.
The benefits of becoming environmentally conscious are manifold. Not only can we help reduce our ecological footprint, but we can also experience personal growth and a deeper connection to the world around us. Here are some practical tips for incorporating eco-friendly habits into your daily life:
- Reduce, reuse, recycle: Practice the 3 Rs to minimize waste and conserve resources.
- Choose sustainable products: Opt for items made from recycled, biodegradable or sustainably sourced materials. Look out for ‘greenwashing’ — where brands claim to be eco-friendly but don’t actually deliver meaningful impact.
- Conserve energy and water: Turn off lights and appliances when not in use, and fix leaks to prevent water waste. Insulate ceilings and double glaze windows to reduce heating requirements in winter.
- Support local and organic: Buy from local farmers and choose organic products when possible to reduce your carbon footprint and support sustainable agriculture.
- Pick up plastic and other rubbish: Actively participate in cleaning the environment, with particular attention to removing plastics that could be consumed by birds or fish.
Sustainability is about meeting our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (Brundtland Commission, 1987)5. It encompasses environmental, social, and economic aspects, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to preserving our planet. By connecting our core values with sustainable practices, we can make lasting changes that benefit both the environment and ourselves. We at the Values Institute are huge supporters of the Seventh Generation Principle, which is based on an ancient Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) philosophy of preserving the environment for the next seven generations of people.
Here are some suggestions for adopting sustainable lifestyle changes and responsible consumption:
- Embrace minimalism: Focus on owning fewer, high-quality items and declutter your living space. Buying quality clothing may incur a higher short-term cost, but the items generally outlast fast fashion by many years.
- Use public transportation, carpool, bike, or walk: Reduce your carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels.
- Practice mindful eating: Plan your meals, reduce food waste, and consider adopting a plant-based diet. Alternatively, can you support local farms with free-range cattle?
- Support ethical businesses: Choose companies that prioritize fair labor practices, environmental stewardship, and community engagement. Companies with credentials such as a BCorp Certification are a great place to start.
The Power of Community and Collaboration
Individual actions matter, but collective efforts can bring about transformative change. By engaging with others, sharing our values and experiences, and collaborating on initiatives, we can inspire and support one another in our pursuit of a more sustainable future. Join local environmental groups, attend workshops, or start a community garden to foster connections and create lasting change together.
Discovering and embracing our core values can empower us to become more environmentally conscious and adopt sustainable practices. As we align our actions with our beliefs, we contribute to a better future for ourselves, our communities, and the planet as a whole. By reflecting on our core values and making conscious choices, we can take meaningful steps towards a more sustainable way of life. Remember, small changes can add up to a big impact over time, so don’t underestimate the power of your individual actions. As we continue to grow, learn, and connect with others, we can foster a brighter, greener future for generations to come. So, let’s take this journey of self-discovery and environmental stewardship together, one step at a time!
- Corner, A., Markowitz, E., & Pidgeon, N. (2014). Public engagement with climate change: the role of human values. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5(3), 411-422. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.269
- Bonneau, A. (n.d.). Quote by Anne-Marie Bonneau. Retrieved from Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/9938933-we-don-t-need-a-handful-of-people-doing-zero
- Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 1-65). Academic Press.
- Kollmuss, A., & Agyeman, J. (2002). Mind the gap: Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behavior? Environmental Education Research, 8(3), 239-260. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504620220145401
- Brundtland Commission. (1987). Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Oxford University Press.