The Environmental Bubble: What is it and How to Pop it Open
Have you ever wondered why it is so easy to talk about environmental issues, yet so difficult to consider these issues in our consumption habits?
Our minds perceive the environment as a bubble.
A bubble that we know exists.
A bubble that related to oceans, trees, forests. And also to global warming, hurricanes and tsunamis.
However, this bubble is outside of our practical lives.
Why is that the case?
Why is the environment encapsulated inside a bubble in our minds?
And how can we pop it open, to integrate the environment in the fabric of our day to day lives?
The psychological distance of eco-friendly matters
When we were taught about the environment, teachers often talked about climate change. How it could increase the risk of environmental catastrophes.
Like the tsunami that happened in the Indian Ocean in 2004.
Islands could drown. For instance, the entire country of Maldives can drown underwater because of increased water levels.
When climate issues are linked to such events, people who were not affected by the crises have linked the environmental issue with
- A distant place: this is not going to affect my place of residence
- Other people: this is going to affect other people but not me, not my family members.
- A distant time in the future: this is not going to happen any time soon.
- A low probability of happening: it might happen, but it also might never happen.
And we get used to thinking about everything related to the environment as far far away.
Far away from our communities and from us.
Far away from our everyday lives.
Far away from how we spend our time and what we do in our day.
And the result is a person who has knowledge about environmental issues but who does not link this knowledge to practical action in his/her daily life.
Hence, the environment and everything that is related to it become part of a bubble outside of our practical lives.
How to pop up the bubble and overcome the psychological distance?
The solution is divided into two parts: changing your PERCEPTIONS and taking ACTION. Let’s dive into that.
Changing your Perceptions
- Believe that YOU can be part of the solution.
Changing your belief and your perceptions is the first step toward changing your behaviors and habits. So start by having faith in yourself and your impact on this detrimental cause.
- Think about YOUR children and YOUR grandchildren
Turn it into your own problem. Because when climate change is YOUR problem and that of YOUR children, you will have the motivation to do something about it.
- Avoid using vague sentences in your head.
Don’t say: “I want to become more eco-friendly”. Think about the habits you want to change (start biking to work, start taking your reusable bags to the store), the things you want to eliminate from your life (plastic wraps, disposable water bottles). And focus your energy on these specific tasks.
- Make an Honest Intention to ACT
Start thinking about taking action instead of thinking about the environment as someone else’s problem. Knowledge is important. But if it is not coupled with action it becomes useless.
- START Small
Find easy and relatable tasks that you can start doing. Here is a small list to get you started:
- Repeat your outfits more than usual to avoid buying new clothes.
- Start collecting empty batteries in a jar in your room to dispose of them appropriately at the end of the year.
- Replace your paper towels with used clothes.
- Make your coffee at home and take it out in a reusable mug.
- Have one veggie day a week, where you only eat vegetarian or vegan food.
- Let your hair dry naturally in the summer.
- The environment and all related issues can seem very distant to our practical lives.
- This distance is due to the perception we have constructed of environmental issues.
- To change that, we need to start by changing our perceptions and beliefs.
- Then we need to approach the environment with actions and start doing small, consistent steps.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post 😊
Have a good one, and keep the green vibes going ~
ElHaffar, G., Durif, F., & Dubé, L. (2020). Towards closing the attitude-intention-behavior gap in green consumption: a narrative review of the literature and an overview of future research directions. Journal of Cleaner Production, 122556.
Liberman, N., Trope, Y., & Stephan, E. (2007). Psychological distance. Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles, 2, 353-383.
Spence, A., Poortinga, W., & Pidgeon, N. (2012). The psychological distance of climate change. Risk Analysis: An International Journal, 32(6), 957-972.