Do environmental attitudes predict organic purchasing and environmental organization involvement?

The members of affluent Western societies have become increasingly aware of environmental issues. The increases in environmental awareness have created new environmentally conscious markets, such as organic foods and products, and organizations. This article looks at whether socio-demographic variables can predict environmental attitudes and whether there is a connection between environmental attitudes and the realization of behaviours that promote environmental protection (organic food purchases and environmental group membership). In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and surrounding communities, health and environment attitudes as well as demographic information were collected through intercept surveys administered at locations that ensured a representative sample of the communities (n = 389). Regression analyses in STATA 7.0 were used to determine the predictive abilities of environmental attitudes and socio-demographic variables on environmental attitudes and environmental behaviours respectively. It was found that socio-demographic variables provided limited explanatory power for environmental attitudes and that while environmental attitudes and behaviours are correlated, environmental attitudes are unable to accurately predict environmental behaviours. The lack of explanatory power may be due to the scale used, or more likely due to the general acceptance and knowledge of environmental issues. As environmental attitudes become more commonplace, differences in socio-demographic factors may no longer have the predictive ability once seen in past studies. SS-AAEA Journal of Agricultural Economics 2007 Articles Environmental awareness has been increasingly studied over the last 30 years. As nations become economically developed, they are able to afford more environmental quality, which is considered to be a normal good (Duroy 2005). The ability to purchase environmental quality with increasing affluence is the logic behind the environmental Kuznets curve (EKC). The EKC hypothesis suggests an inverse U-shaped relationship between economic wellbeing and environmental degradation (Duroy 2005). Post-industrialized western countries have become concerned with nonmaterial values, such as environmental attitudes and behaviour, and not solely with material gain (Inglehart 1997). In North America, studies on environmental attitudes and concerns date back to about the 1970s (Bord and O’Connor 1997). In the 1970s, environmentalism valued environmental conservation largely for aesthetic and recreational purposes (Hays 1987). However, by the 1980s, health and well-being had become linked to environmental concerns; the threats to plants and animals began to be linked with threats to human health and well-being, and even to global survival (Bord and O’Connor 1997). Today the ideas regarding environmental responsibility and environmental stewardship are commonplace. The environmental activism of the 1970s has been incorporated into Western society through the creation of institutions and professions whose purposes are environmental preservation and conservation. Because of this, developed Western nations often have widespread and normative ecological awareness (Raudsepp 2001).

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SS-AAEA Journal of Agricultural Economics
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