Humans’ overconsumption of resources—from the food and clothes we buy to the methods of transportation we choose—is a leading contributor to global climate change. Therefore, it’s increasingly important to understand the choices consumers make and how those decisions affect the health of a planet with limited resources.
Amid growing concerns about the fate of our surrounding environment, millennials – the nation’s most influential group of consumers – are increasingly trying to make their consumer behaviors more sustainable by opting for products designed to limit environmental impacts. But a recent study shows that compared to such tendencies of “green buying”, consuming less is actually way more beneficial for both your wellbeing and that of the planet.
The new research studied how culturally entrenched materialistic values in 968 participants influenced their pro-environmental behaviors. The findings pointed to the fact that participants who reported having fewer materialistic values were much more likely to engage in reduced consumption. Consuming less was, in turn, linked to higher personal wellbeing and lower psychological distress.
In comparison, green buying – which may have some positive environmental implications, although to a lesser degree than reduced consumption – was not found to improve wellbeing.
Essentially, the take-home message is that if we want to have a meaningful impact on the environment through our behavior as consumers, buying “greener” products is not enough. Rather, we need to strive to reduce our consumption overall, as this not only makes the planet happier but us too.