Many environmental problems stem from unsustainable human consumption. Accordingly, many studies have focused on the barriers to pro-environmental behavior. The inability or unwillingness to act is partially related to personal values as well as the psychological distance between individual actions and the resulting pollution, which is often perceived as abstract or intangible. In contrast, fireworks produce imminent, undeniable air pollution. The goal of this research was to advance the knowledge on the awareness-value-behavior gap by studying public fireworks consumption and the willingness to act against firework pollution. A nationally representative survey was conducted after the extremely polluting 2017/18 New Year’s Eve in Iceland (European hourly record in fine particulate matter: 3014 µg/m3
). Our results demonstrate that, after controlling for the awareness of harmful pollution, hedonic motives predict the purchasing of fireworks and the opposition to mitigating action. Noticing public warnings regarding fireworks pollution did not significantly relate to the purchase behavior. The awareness of the harmful effects of firework pollution was, however, the largest predictor of the support for mitigating action. Despite reporting the pleasure derived from fireworks, 57% of the sample favored stricter governmental regulation, and 27% favored banning the public use of fireworks in order to “protect them from what they want”.
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