Theory and practice have about as much in common as tofu with Wiener Schnitzel. This is well known to many from education or study, and it usually takes a while for the gap to close.
However, it will be a problem if it takes longer than it is good. This difference is very problematic for our environment.
Although almost everyone now knows how it is around the world, far too many shoppers are packing their fruits and vegetables into small plastic bags. The topics of climate, environment and sustainability are on everyone's lips and some may already be over them, yet many do not seem to have been sensitized enough yet.
This is clearly demonstrated by a representative survey on environmental awareness and environmental behavior in 2008 on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency:
"Two-thirds of the population sees climate change as more or less threatening human existence. ... 80% are aware that essentially human action is responsible for climate change. ... The personal impact of climate change, however, is largely considered not so great. Less than 20% of respondents expect very large or large impacts on personal wealth or on their own health or that of the family. "
In other words, we are driving at full throttle towards an abyss, but we assume that only the passengers would suffer something, while we ourselves get away with a violet-framed eye.
This is a mistake that has settled comfortably in the gap between knowledge and practice. How is this discrepancy?
Ellen Matthies is an environmental psychologist at the University of Magdeburg; she explains: "Abstract attitudes and values are something completely different from everyday actions." Psychologically, it is quite normal to be convinced on the one hand of something, but to behave the opposite.
The so-called status quo error is the reason why many people find it difficult to live in a more environmentally friendly way: with many alternatives, people prefer to stay with those they have chosen from the beginning. In other words, when thinking about what should be done about a problem, man is doing very well - nothing at all. The fear of eventualities and changes is then too big.
And maybe the mood between the good intentions and the inner bastard will help. They do not understand each other that well either. It's a bit like having all the good intentions (doing more exercise, eating healthier food ...) - they're postponed until eventually they're completely repressed.
So how do we manage to break old habits, fix the status quo bug, and overcome the bastard?
The book "Psychology in Environmental Protection: Handbook for the promotion of sustainable action" provides good tips (Karen Hamann, Anna Baumann, Daniel Löschinger). Environmental psychology explores what leads us to our (missing) decisions and motivates us. The handbook shows how we can better understand, implement and promote sustainable behavior and practical tips, such as the following:
Vague ideas ("Actually, I should do more sports") are rather not implemented; clear goals, however, already ("I go jogging every Saturday"). We can better fulfill an obligation imposed on ourselves. Set yourself such a specific goal for environmental protection, such as: "This year, I lower my energy consumption by 25%" or "I only eat meat once a week." Write down your goal and also possible milestones and above all - tell others of it. That motivates you to really implement the project. So it works with the saving of energy as well as with the sport.
You have concrete goals? Very well. Now it is important to take care of integrating them into everyday life rather than letting them sink. For this we have to remind ourselves of them, for example by small pieces of paper or stickers. A "light off?" Or "cloth bag doing it?" On the front door can do wonders.
Make achievements visible
What do housework and more sustainability have in life? They are only visible if they are not made. That's why it's important to look at and talk about the benefits of sustainable trade.
Just take a look at how you feel when you've been cycling to work for a while; you're fitter, you're saving expenses as well as the stress of congestion and parking - and tell about it to make it visible to others.
Incidentally, motivating, visible feedback is also provided by the green search engine Ecosia. She uses the earnings from search ads to plant trees. As you seek, the number increases steadily. You can not imagine it better.
Create opportunities for joint activities and exchanges - organize a dress exchange party, a vegetarian dinner with friends or neighbors or try your hand at urban gardening. Or how about building a public bookshelf or saving food through foodsharing?
Council of Environmental Psychology: In such joint actions should allow mistakes and at the same time to create many successes. That leaves a good feeling at all. And everyone would like to repeat positive experiences, right?
Additional inspiration can be found in great, sustainable Instagramerinnen. On the feed of "Naturlandkind" you will find simple instructions for natural cosmetics, simple recipes and tips for waste prevention.
Also Franzi of "Oh how cool" presents simple as well as ingenious tricks on how to combat the plastic mania and avoid food waste, such as buying the individual bananas in the supermarket, so they are not thrown away. The beautiful flatlays of food, soaps, candles or natural cosmetics are the icing on the cake.
You can find great upcycling ideas with Marisa on "My Sustainable Me". Recently, there is a podcast about fair or garbage-free products.
After so much environmental psychology and inspiration, there's only one thing left: sleeves up and up to the change!