Centre for Rural Research Annual Review 2004 - College of Social ...

socialsciences.exeter.ac.uk

Centre for Rural Research Annual Review 2004 - College of Social ...

All the differences were highly statistically significant. Three important pointscan be made from these data. First, the level of behaviour is far higher for bothgroups in comparison to green consumption. This demonstrates the widely-heldview that recycling is regarded as normative behaviour in society and that thechallenge for policy makers has shifted towards changing consumption practices.Second, recycling is particularly popular with nearly all respondents, with over50% in both groups recycling all of the time. More challenging for policy makersare activities such as composting and other recyclable items. Third, thedifference between GAP and the main sample is impressive and demonstrates theefficacy of their approach in engaging citizens in sustainability behaviour. This ismost significant with regard to composting, where a fairly marginal activity hasevidently been promoted effectively.Does GAP work?The evidence provided here would appear to show that the GAP households inour sample were indeed more environmentally friendly. However, such aconclusion, whilst being correct in statistical terms, must be qualified by anexamination of the households engaged in the GAP programme. Despite effortsto focus on less wealthy households, GAP still appears to be a fairly middle-classorganisation. Accordingly, one might make the assertion that those mostinterested in environmental issues would be most likely to join GAP. An analysisof the make-up of the sample of GAP respondents that we surveyed will help inthis assessment. Although demographic characteristics such as age, gender andhousehold size did not vary between the two samples, there were significantdifferences relating to a range of other demographic factors, which can besummarised along the following lines:• GAP members had more formal educational qualifications, with 56% ofmembers having a degree, whilst just 17% of the main sample had such aqualification;• 45% of GAP members earned over £30,000 a year, compared to just 10%of the main sample;• 89% of GAP members were home owners, compared to 79% of the mainsample;• 65% of GAP members lived in detached or semi-detached homes,whereas 33% of the main sample lived in these types of homes.These statistics point to an affluent group of individuals who live in large homesand who are highly educated. This finding demonstrates that GAP’s main targetaudience is without doubt the stereotypical middle class individual. However, tologically argue that such individuals are the ones most likely to engage inenvironmental action in general is not necessarily the case. Analysis of the mainsample indicates that those most committed to the environment were on belowaverageincomes and tended to live in smaller dwellings. Accordingly, whilst23

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