2009, Journal

Mindfulness and sustainable behavior – pondering attention and awareness as means for increasing green behavior.


Ecopsychologists have suggested that mindful awareness of our interdependence with nature may not only help us regain our lost, ecologically embedded identity (Roszak, 1992) but may also help us behave more sustainably, closing the documented gap between proenvironmental attitudes and behaviors. We suggest more specifically that, in contemporary consumer culture with its dearth of proenvironmental norms and cues, mindful attentiveness may be necessary to develop sustainable habits. To explore the connection between mindfulness and sustainable behavior, we measured 100 adults attending a Midwestern sustainability expo on two mindfulness factors: acting with awareness and observing sensations. As predicted, acting with awareness was significantly positively correlated with self-reported sustainable behavior. This finding is consistent with the idea that, until sustainable decisions become the societal default, their enactment may depend on focused consideration of options and mindful behavior. In contrast, observing sensations did not predict behavior. This calls into question the notion that feeling connected to the world outside of ourselves is a precondition for sustainable action. We call for more research to further test the validity and generalizability of our findings.