Topical Collection "Sustainable Household Behaviors: Consumption and Mobility"
It is clear that environmental impacts from household activities have grown in recent decades and are expected to intensify in the future. Households, as a group, are not the largest contributor to the most sustainable pressures, but their impact is significant and will almost certainly intensify. In this context, it is essential to better understand household environmental behaviors by analyzing the factors underlying households’ choices. This Special Issue is dedicated to the sustainable day-to day actions of households in two specific areas: consumption and mobility. A better understanding of the determinants of both consumption and mobility decisions will provide useful insights for policy makers. In particular, the Special Issue addresses questions such as i) the effects of sociodemographic, attitudinal, and contextual factors in sustainable household behaviors, with respect to consumption (food, energy, water, waste, etc.) and mobility (public and private commuting, school-to-home transportation, recreational mobility, etc.) and ii) households’ responsiveness to various kinds of environmental policy measures, addressed in these two areas. Thus, two crucial aspects in the debate over sustainable consumption and mobility are the importance of behavioral changes, and the role of government in providing essential infrastructure for the population to engage in more sustainable lifestyles. Most countries have implemented policies to reduce the environmental impacts from household activities, but most of these policies have resulted in only limited changes in behavior, with overall results appearing to be modest. Governments are working to help households to reduce their environmental impacts, with policies that promote sustainable behaviors, by examining the efficacy of different types of policy instruments and by identifying combinations of instruments for promoting more sustainable behaviors. This Special Issue intends, from a multidisciplinary approach, to provide new insights to policy makers for the design of environmental policies in consumption and mobility, with the primary objective being to change individual behaviors.
Prof. José Alberto Molina
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- household economics
- population behaviors
The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.
Migration and Food Consumption: The Impact of Culture and Country of Origin on Obesity as An Indicator of Human Health
Yuval Arbel, Chaim Fialkoff and Amichai Kerner
Abstract: Previous literature demonstrates that the American immigration waves attenuate the obesity pandemic in the United States. Based on a five-year panel longitudinal survey (2012, 2013, 2014-2015 and 2016), carried out by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS), we observe the correlation between the BMI, age, mother’s tongue and years-since-migration in Israel. The BMI (=kg/meter2) is a conventional measure of obesity, where BMI≥25 is considered overweight, and BMI≥30 as type I obesity. Israel experienced two major immigration waves, which doubled its population: a reactive immigration wave mainly from Arab States in 1948-1971, and a proactive immigration wave with high level of human capital from FSU starting from 1985. Initial results of our study demonstrate that compared to the base category of 15-year-old native Israelis, whose mother’s tongue is Hebrew (95% CI: 21.19 – 21.86 kg/meter2), the BMI of 15-year old immigrants from Russia is lower by 7.11% (p=0.00840; 95% CI: 18.15 – 20.81 kg/meter2). In contrast, compared to the base category of 15-year-old native Israelis, whose mother’s tongue is Hebrew (95% CI: 22.13 – 22.59 kg/meter2), the BMI of 15-year old immigrants from Arab states is higher by 28.3% (p=0.0006; 95% CI: 26.05 – 34.29 kg/meter2). This BMI gap is reversed with the age variable for both the Russian and Arab States immigrants. Research findings may be of assistance in public health, and culture-oriented medicine.
Keywords: Matched-Pairs; Body Mass Index; Obesity
Sustainable Commuting: Results from Disciplines Related to Population
José Alberto Molina 1, J. Ignacio Gimenez-Nadal 2 and Jorge Velilla 3,*
1 University of Zaragoza, BIFI and IZA
2 University of Zaragoza, BIFI and CTUR
3 Department of Economic Analysis, Faculty of Economics, University of Zaragoza, C/ Gran Via 2, 3rd floor, 50005 Zaragoza, Spain
* Correspondence: email: [email protected]; Tel.: +34-876-76-18-18; Fax: +34-976-76-19-96
Extended Abstract: Commuting is, obviously, a transport issue, which daily generates around the world a very high level of CO2 emissions. This is increasingly serious because of the environmentally unfriendly effects. In this context, it is necessary that policy makers design and implement efficient policies aimed at decreasing these emissions and promoting better management of the environment. Logic dictates that the use of public transport and physical models are environmentally friendly solutions for personal transport.
Sustainable commuting (SC) usually refers to environmentally friendly travel modes, such as public transport (bus, tram, subway, light rail), walking, cycling, and carpooling. SC has a number of important relationships with disciplines other than transport from the perspective of individual behaviors, primarily related to population issues. First, the analysis of objective and subjective determinants requires the use of economic/econometric methods in a context of psychological theories. Second, SC exhibits obvious implications for the physical and mental health of individuals. School/University SC also has important associations with education, along with significant associations with labor demand, given the relevant role of employers in the commuting modes of their employees. This paper reviews the most important results derived from the relationship between SC and these population disciplines.
With respect to the subjective determinants, the literature has demonstrated that SC, in the context of the Theory of Planned Behavior, is mainly influenced by intentions, which, in turn, are predicted by three social-cognitive factors: attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavior controls. Beyond these factors, we must also account for the presence of restrictions, such as limited skills, life-chances, and external conditions, that also influence SC. Additionally, the evidence shows that residents who live in areas of high population density are much more likely to adopt SC.
Regarding objective determinants, the relationship between an individual’s income and SC is central, with the evidence being less than conclusive. However, the bulk of the literature shows that lower-income regions have a greater prevalence of SC (walking, cycling, and public transportation) compared with areas of higher income. Other objective determinants are related to the physical environment, with the literature showing that such factors are more important for the prevalence of public transportation than for that of walking and cycling to work. The relationship between these two objective determinants shows that physical environmental factors are more important for SC participation in higher-income neighborhoods than in lower-income ones.
A subgroup of SC modes, which includes walking and cycling to work, is known as active commuting (AC). There are, at least, five reasons for attempting to stem and reverse shifts way from AC, that is to say, health, public finance, climate change, social connectedness, and labor productivity. Physical inactivity is currently a major international public health issue (leading to obesity and cardiovascular issues) and more efforts are needed to promote physical activity, not only in the leisure sphere, but also within the commuting element of the work experience.
The literature shows that greater AC is associated with higher levels of physical well-being. However, studies that examine the impact on well-being of travel for recreational purposes are much more common than those that examine routine commuting. There is no general association between AC and mental well-being, although most of the evidence shows that, compared to driving, well-being is greater for those using active travel or public transport, with this positive effect being considered in cost-benefit assessments of public interventions seeking to promote SC. In this context, the required AC promotion should include urban planning, workplace programs and policies, and installing bicycle lanes, among others.
Despite the high policy interest of School/University SC, there is only limited research examining active commuting among students (elementary/high school/university). Some evidence shows that between
40% and 50% of high school students report using AC to get to and from school. Students are less likely to actively commute to school if they are girls, daily smokers, or attending a rural school. Curiously, weather conditions (temperature, precipitation) do not appear to predict active commuting to school. Negative correlates include parental perception of other children in the neighborhood, no traffic lights or crossings, and a busy road barrier en route to school. The literature shows that reducing barriers to using active modes, such as reducing actual and perceived travel time by bus and bicycle, would have the greatest impact on commuting patterns.
Regarding labor demand, one potential solution in the literature for alleviating CO2 emissions has been to identify the role of the employer in sustainable commuter programs. An increasing body of evidence analyzes the attitudes and policies of employers towards staff travel and sustainable commuter plans. Although more large firms should develop SC plans in the short term, both small and large businesses appear to be committed to a high level of staff parking provision. Employers are aware of the transport problems their workers face, and cite the need for central government legislation and tax incentives before themselves taking action to implement substainable commuter plans.
Effecting Sustainable Food Consumption Behaviors and Food Waste among Households in Australia’s Multi-Cultural Society
Christina Y.P. Ting
Extended abstract: Climate Change and its impacts have consequential effects on people and food production. Increasing greenhouse gases (GHG) have caused changes in the predictability and reliability of temperature and rainfall, and frequency and intensity of natural disasters such as drought, and flood. These changes have impact on food cultivation globally. There is thus a need to focus on food security, particular in the areas of sustainable food consumption and food waste.
Australia aims to half of its food waste by 2030 (Commonwealth of Australia (COM) 2017). Every year, Australian households throw away 3.1 million tonnes of edible food at a cost of A$2,200 – A$3,800. While food waste has economic and social impact, it contributes to GHG emissions for anaerobiotic food decay in landfill release methane gas, one of the GHG. Australian government thus has put in place the National Food Waste Strategy (COM 2017) that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 (to ensure sustainable production and consumption patterns). This Strategy focuses on the circular economy where resources are kept in use as long as possible, minimising negative impacts and regenerate biological and technical cycles. Different stakeholders ranging from State governments to local councils and non-profit organisations (NPO) have embarked on different ways to change food consumption behaviors and to reduce food waste. For instance, OzHarvest, an NPO, receives excess or unwanted edible food from supermarkets and give them to communities who need them. The local metropolitan councils have put in place kerbside organic collection bins where households can discard their food waste together with the green waste. As an English-speaking country, information is mostly available in the English Language on the different ways in how and why Australians should reduce food waste. With a diverse population of Australian-born, migrants from voluntary migration, business and refugee backgrounds, that speak more than 26 languages, conveying these messages in a-one-size-fits-all measure may not be effective. Those from non-English speaking backgrounds will have to access similar information in their language via indirect ways. They either search for the information in their spoken language by using the links to other languages in the websites or call the national interpreter telephone number that is listed. This means that those from non-English speaking backgrounds will have limited direct access or have to use extra steps to access the information. This will have an impact to effect positive changes towards food consumption and waste reduction and it’s a challenge in a multi-cultural society. Moreover, each group’s cultural and religious practices may hinder or enhance such measures to reduce food waste. The current COVID-19 pandemic in Melbourne, Australia, has highlighted these differences in culturally-related behaviors and economic impacts on addressing the elimination of the virus.
This paper will first discuss the Australia’s federal government’s National Food Waste Strategy that aligns with circular economy framework. This framework, that aligns with the SDG12, lays out the different stakeholders from farmers to retailers and households. This is followed by the discussion of the various measures appropriate by these stakeholders. These measures are discussed using the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (2019) framework of ‘hierarchy to reduce food waste and grow community’. In this hierarchy framework, ‘source reduction’ is the most preferred way and ‘landfill and incineration’, the least preferred. From here on, the author will analyse the measures taken by the various stakeholders and then focus on the ‘source reduction’ of household’s food consumption behaviors and food waste. This is because by reducing the food source, there will inevitably be reduction in food consumption and waste. The author will derive data from secondary sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and various local government councils such as the City of Melbourne and City of Whitehorse. As cultural and religious practices have impact on consumption behaviors, diet and food waste, the author will derive data from primary and secondary sources. Reference will be made to these differences, with particular reference to migrants from China settling in Australia and other ethnic groups. By identifying the sources of food waste and the potential cultural and religious practices on food consumption behaviour and waste, policies on efficient food waste prevention and generation, and long-term food waste reduction that are applicable to different ethnic households can be put in place. These outcomes can assist policy makers to effect positive consumption behavioural changes to reduce food waste at community levels in multi-cultural society.
Pursuing Higher Density Environments with Comfortable and Invigorating Crowding: The Critical Role of City Streets, Open Spaces and Tactical Urbanism
Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between crowding and streets (open space) in high-density urban environments from the perspectives of perceived density and human needs, two antecedents to crowdedness. City streets are the places through which various forms of crowding are perceived, and therefore their potential role in easing the sense of crowding can be expected with corresponding strategies. The idea is thus put forward that the street, underpinned by practices like traffic calming and self-building, serves as the fundamental public open space to increase spaciousness and to ease crowding. It also suggests how city governance can create the right conditions to encourage flourishing civil society initiatives in a bid to build a dense primary environment which is invigorating and at the same time has a level of crowding that is perceived as both comfortable and livable.
Keywords: perceived density; human needs; dense sprawl; compactness; primary environment; traffic calming; self-building; tactical urbanism