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What Is Environmental Awareness And Why Is It Important?

Environmental Awareness: Definition, History, Behavior & Importance

What Is Environmental Awareness And Why Is It Important? If you're asking yourself this question, you've come to the right place! The topic of environmental awareness is finally becoming more and more the focus of media attention. In addition to regular debates about the climate change, the Air quality in cities or the pollution of the oceans by plastic waste, it was also environmental movements such as Fridays for Futurewhich impressively demonstrated how pronounced environmental awareness is in our society, especially among young people.

But what is environmental awareness from a psychological point of view, what is the relationship between a person's closeness to nature and their behavior and how can we improve our own awareness of nature?

In this article, I would like to answer this very question and make the concept of environmental awareness more tangible. Let's go!

  1. Definition
  2. Man and environment
  3. Behavior
  4. Convey
  5. What to do?
  6. Closing words

What Is Environmental Awareness And Why Is It Important?

According to dictionaries, environmental awareness is composed of the Environmental Knowledge, the Environmental settings, the Behavioral Intentions regarding the environment and the actual environmental behavior of a human being.₁

Simply explained, you could say: Environmental awareness is a person's understanding of the fact that their natural environment is of great importance to all life on earth - and that their everyday actions have an impact on it.

Environmentally conscious people know that by directly or indirectly damaging the environment, they are not only damaging sensitive ecosystems, but also the environment. also jeopardize their own livelihood - and therefore opt for the more environmentally friendly behavior.

Man and the environment - an eternal relationship

Environmental awareness and psychological behavior

For thousands of years in the history of man's development, nature was Food supplier as well as existential threat at the same time

Already the construction of the first house had the Sense of protection from the immediate, hostile environment. Over the millennia, the technical possibilities for protecting and asserting ourselves against nature have grown.

At the same time, man's self-confidence in his ability to dominate, control and change nature also grew. This development culminated in the industrial revolutionwhich ushered in an unprecedented era of man-made environmental disasters the likes of which the world had never seen before. It was a guiding political principle, especially in the 19th century, to want to subjugate natureThis can be seen, for example, in the numerous straightening and draining of rivers, which have left massive permanent damage to this day. 

Over the last few decades, however, environmental awareness has increased more and more and it is now at least politically and socially accepted that environmental protection is important. This was also shown by the Environmental Awareness Study for 2022, which was published by the Federal Environment Agency in August 2023.

According to the survey 57 percent of participants consider environmental and climate protection to be the most important social challenges. In addition, a large majority believe that key players such as the German government and industry are not doing enough to protect the environment and climate.

Tip: Be sure to check out the Tips for climate protection in everyday life when you yourself can be part of the solution in the fight against the global warming want to become.

Environmental awareness and behavior

Nevertheless, there is a huge gap between what people say about environmental awareness and how they actually behave. In many cases, one can even speak of the complete opposite. One example: Over 70 percent of Germans would like to travel more sustainably - yet only 7 percent actually do so.

The plane is despite cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternatives. Meat is despite more environmentally friendly, healthier and higher quality substitute products on many people's plates. And that everything despite lasting feelings of shame like the "Flight shame" or the "Meat shame".

But what are the psychological reasons for this discrepancy? Why do so many people obviously have a high level of environmental awareness, but do not put this into practice in their everyday lives? The motives for this are manifold. I would like to introduce you to four of them below.

1. low cost effect

The low-cost effect in psychology states that people are particularly willing to change their behavior if they are offered the opportunity to do so. have to do without little and the change means as little additional time, organizational and financial effort as possible for them.

One example is the Climate-friendly mobilityWhile city dwellers often have no problem switching from car to public transport, bicycle or scooter, rural dwellers often have no other option than to drive to get from A to B.

Another example are Organic foodwhich are often more expensive than conventional foods and therefore far from affordable for everyone.

2. social desirability

The psychological effect of social desirability is a well-known bias in research and evaluation and regularly leads to erroneous study results. It states that people tend towards the behavior that they consider to be a socially desirable norm.

The protection of nature is such a norm, To speak out against it would be controversial. It is therefore to be expected that study participants will also stand up for the protection of the environment in surveys. Even if it does not correspond to their personal opinion. The study participants are usually not even aware of the effect.

Tip: If you could use some more inspiration and motivation to promote your environmental awareness in a targeted way, be sure to check out the Collection of quotes with sayings about change.

3. the power of habit

How difficult changes often are to implementhas already been discussed in another article. When it comes to environmental awareness, too, in many cases it is simply force of habit that Prevents people from adapting their behavior according to their own environmental awareness.

This is the case, for example, if you forget to turn off the heating regularly, put food in unnecessary plastic packaging or is traveling a very short distance by car.

4. self-efficacy expectation

Self-efficacy plays a key role in psychological behavioral research. It describes the A person's expectation that they can successfully carry out an action themselves using their own skills. Put simply, this means that people who believe they can make a difference themselves have a high expectation of self-efficacy.

This also plays a major role when it comes to environmentally conscious behavior. After all, many people are of the Conviction that they themselves cannot do anything for general environmental awareness. Instead, politics and the economy tend to be blamed.

In the next section, you will find out how you can live an environmentally conscious life both in your own everyday life and on a social level. 

Promoting environmental awareness

At the same time, the question of improving environmental awareness raises the question of who is Responsible for environmental awareness and who is in a position to actually to do something for the environment.

We have already seen that people often find it difficult to lead an environmentally conscious everyday life for a variety of psychological reasons. This has also been recognized in politics. In recent years, there has been an increasing shift away from an "individual policy" approach, in which people are to be convinced of the urgency of environmental protection, and has instead turned to the use of economic measures.

With the corresponding instruments, environmentally friendly behavior is rewarded with economic added value. This makes it more attractive for many people to actually comply. Incentives for more environmentally friendly behavior supply for example Subsidies for energy-saving lamps or Emission allowances.

Especially for companies increases acceptance of nature conservation measures through positive economic incentives. No wonder, because as soon as money can be made from nature conservation, the preservation and promotion of the environment is integrated into economic calculations and is transformed from a potential obstacle into an additional economic opportunity.

For example, the world's largest financial manager Blackrock announced at the beginning of 2020 that it would evaluate companies according to climate risks in future and partially eliminate companies that mine coal from its portfolios. A sign that points to a positive development can be concluded. 

Politics and business thus create framework conditions that integrate environmental protection into people's everyday lives and the reality of their lives. Ultimately, however, it is up to each individual, to bring one's own everyday life into harmony with environmental protection.

Tip: If you want to know how to Targeted promotion of environmental awareness can - for example in childhood - then be sure to take a look at the linked article.

How everyone can live environmentally conscious

Environmental awareness in everyday life

In order to improve your own environmental awareness, it can be helpful to consider the interrelationships that keep our planet "running".

How are CO2 emissions from a single car linked to global warming? Where does the plastic bag in the supermarket come from and where does it end up after being thrown away? To question things and be curiousIt creates understanding and greater awareness. It can also be helpful to plant something yourself in order to regain an appreciation for the biological cycles. 

In addition, the following, further contributions promote your environmental awareness:

Tip: Feel free to look around even more in the Environmental protection blog around! There you will find a cornucopia of inspiration for a more environmentally conscious everyday life.

Through your own actions - even if they are only small changes - you can serve as a positive example to others. However, one should be careful not to want to instruct other people with a raised forefinger.. Rather, the focus should be on having fun with an environmentally conscious lifestyle. It should be fun to show that environmentally conscious action and the more minimalist life also means more connectedness and joie de vivre.

In addition, you can also get involved in associations or Create petitions and thus also strive for change at a political level.

Environmental awareness is important - especially for our future

For a long time, we humans were at the mercy of nature. We have had technical possibilities for several hundred years, to be able to master and control nature. At least to a certain extent.

We often forget that we ourselves are part of the are nature and their destruction also our deprive one's livelihood.

An intact environment with clear water, clean air, healthy soil and a diversity of animal and plant species is of crucial importance for our well-being and quality of life. Only Nature itself probably doesn't care at all whether we humans exist. It would continue to exist without us.

"We are living in dangerous times. Men control nature before they are even able to control themselves."

Albert Schweitzer (more at Sustainability Quotes)

Fortunately, our responsibility on the planet is being recognized more and more in many countries and translated into political and social measures. It remains to be hoped that the rest of the world will also follow suit and that imminent, long-term damage and disasters can be avoided. Until then, it is up to each and every one of us to take action and get involved.

Do you have any questions, suggestions or your own definition of environmental awareness that you would like to share? Then I look forward to your contribution.

Stay environmentally friendly,

Living plastic-free - Less plastic waste in the environment

PS: In the article about the sustainable lifestyle you will immediately receive a large list of simple tips for more environmental protection that you can implement bit by bit.

₁ E. Günther; Springer Gabler: Umweltbewusstsein, available at [25.09.2023].

₂ Norddeutscher Rundfunk; Tagesschau: #kurzerklärt: Sustainable travel - how does it work? YouTube, 28.06.2019, Web, 25.09.2023 at 21:53, in:

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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