Essay Sample on Psychology of Sustainability

Published: 2023-03-21
Essay Sample on Psychology of Sustainability
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Ecology Social responsibility Sustainable development Developmental psychology
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1497 words
13 min read

In the wake of climate change and increased greenhouse gas emission, the issue of sustainability is a primary concern in various socio-economic and cultural spheres world over. At the global scale, we face a host of environmental problems and the response from consumer vary to match the need and call to conserve the environment. Over the past few decades, there has been an increase in the number of natural disasters, changes in the weather patterns, increased global temperature and melting glaciers. In effect, these alterations in climate have increased calls for sustainable products that will limit the possible dangers on the environment if man continues with such activities unregulated. The events of man on the planet directly contribute to eco-anxiety, which is psychological distress resulting from threats to the natural surrounding like climate change and pollution. Over the years, eco-anxiety has directly provided to the call for sustainable production across the globe (Trend Monitor, 2019). Loosely put, the term sustainability implies meeting the needs of the current generation through regulated output without compromising the capacity of the future people to fulfil theirs. From this definition, sustainability is not only limited to environmentalism; on the contrary, the concept encompasses social and economic resources needed for meeting the needs of current and future generations. Eco-anxiety is responsible for the shift in consumer behaviours witnessed currently as many buyers and users of various products call for sustainability in production.

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A new trend in consumption, specifically in the developed nations, is a shift or boycott of products or services deemed as environmentally damaging in favor of any that promotes sustainability. This observation is due in part to the emerging notion of eco-anxiety. Even though relatively a new term, psychologists define eco-anxiety as a high level of distress birthed from stress and helplessness when assessing the possible effects of global warming. Not everyone will respond to the eco-anxiety through activism or pressing the government to adopt policies that are friendlier to the environment. Groups of consumers in various parts of the nation react differently from activism by using products that will not negatively impact the environment. To catch up with the shift in consumption, companies try to use environmentally sound products in availing various goods and services.

In unique research carried out to test how the changes in the environment possibly impact consumer behavior, White, Habib and Hardisty (2019) use organizations that plastic bags. According to the author, the indiscriminate use of non-biodegradable plastics for a long time has dramatically disturbed the ecology. Documented pieces of evidence support the claim on the adverse effects of plastics on the environment creating a significant concern among the users of these plastic products. Some of the ecological problems associated with the use of plastic were reported as way back as the 1980s. The impact of plastic on the environment include the greenhouse effect, global warming and climate change. At the moment, environmental challenges have emerged with evidence on climate change trends. Consumers in most parts of the world have approved of environmentally friendly products hence increasing their demand for ecologically friendly products or services. Harvard Business Review reports that up to 65% of consumers in the United States are driven products and services with the claim for sustainability (Habib, 2019). What these consumers mean by is not just corporate sustainability but also the ability of these firms to consider the planet in their production.

Recently, a revelation was made in Melbourne, Australia by the Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration. From this revelation, it was estimated that if the current trend of production continues to the near future, then alteration to the human civilization will be impacted in the next three decades. Through such observations, consumers, specifically the younger generation, have reported concern for their future. Eco-anxiety is a real phenomenon among younger consumers, and the trend is said to have significantly changed among these people. Young people have become more conscious of the products they buy as the producers face the reality of the demand for environmentally friendly commodities. One of the largest producer of Turkey in the world, Butterball, for the first time, launched its first organic range due to the recent awareness over the issue of the environment. Over the years, consumers have learned about the relationship between environmental degradation and consumption of meat and dairy products. A significant shift towards veganism and vegetarianism has been reported in the developed nations, specifically among younger generations. In the United Kingdom, one of the largest firm dealing in a sandwich, Pret A Manager, opened its third outlet selling only vegetarian products.

Even the world's big consumer names are making an effort to deal with the shift brought about by the eco-anxiety. Not more than a year ago, the world-renowned cosmetics company from France, L'Oreal launched a first and unique vegan air color to boost the company's professional haircare division. Unilever also acquired Kensington, a famous company in the production of vegan mayonnaise and organic tea known as Pukka. The younger generation fuels this response from the major companies to produce ethical products, according to Hancock (2017). National data indicate that the number of a younger generation turning to veganism and vegetarianism for health and environmental reasons have increased compared to the adult counterparts. This trend is not only manifested in the consumption habits of the millennials but also their willingness to work in firms that are environmentally friendly in their production and service provision.

Eco-anxiety is also responsible for the increasing awareness of the potential dangers of chemicals used in some products on the environment. Since the worrying trend on the environment was reported, several consumers, specifically the millennials, pay close attention to the goods or services that may fuel climate change. Consumers are critical of the chemical industries which they worry are the least concerned with the issue of global warming consumer groups across the world have urged their members to boycott products considered unethical to the environment. These calls have resulted in a significant shift in consumptions as the people concerned quit these commodities for the alternative ones they believe as friendly to the ecosystem. Many people surveyed over the past few years report that they had started using alternative products because the companies they trusted did not implement sustainability in their production. It is the fear of the possible environmental effect of some products that fuel boycotts among the millennials to rethink their consumption trends in the developed nation.

Also important to note the changing consumerism as a result of climate change-driven majorly by the younger people. An overall definition of consumerism is a culture in which values, status and activities are determined by the level of consumption of products and services. Put, a consumerist culture, that is, what one does, values, and how their defined is pegged on use of a given commodity. Many consumers believe that the only way to save the planet is the reduction of emission of greenhouse gases. Consumption-based greenhouse gas emission is among the leading cause of pollution. Targeting industries and leaving out the vital factor, consumption trend will limit the fight against climate change. Unlike in the past where consumerism was an essential part of western culture, the current generation is changing this trend due to psychological pressure on its effect on the environment people today buy commodities that will not pollute their surroundings. For example, the popularity of the use of a bicycle to work or shopping or boarding train to grocery stores is increasing to reduce carbon emission as a result of personal cars. The traditionally trendy culture of consuming high-end commodities and services is rapidly changing among a particular age set because they fear the possible dangers of such activities on the environment.

In sum, even though an emerging concept in psychology, eco-anxiety is real as supported with the call for sustainable production by many people across the world. From the current climatic trends, the younger generations are worried about the possible consequence of the future and are compelled to change their consumption trends. Not every consumer can become a part of activism towards the changes in policies affecting the environment; however, they have realized that through changing their consumption trend they compel organizations into being environmentally ethical in their production. Evidence from different parts of the developed nations indicates how eco-anxiety has made many firms, including larger ones, to adopt new green strategies to keep afloat with the changing consumer demands.


White, K., Habib, R., & Hardisty, D. J. (2019). How to SHIFT Consumer Behaviors to be More Sustainable: A Literature Review and Guiding Framework. Journal of Marketing, 83(3), 22-49.

Trend Monitor. (2019). Eco Anxiety: How is it shaping consumer behavior? - Trend-Monitor. (2019, July 23). Retrieved from

Hancock, A. (2017, December 23). Younger consumers drive shift to ethical products. Retrieved from

Habib, K. W. D. J. H. R. (2019, June 18). The Elusive Green Consumer. Retrieved from

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