Do people really wash at 30C? What makes someone decide whether to recycle or not? Last year we hired ethnographic video researchers everyday lives to make a series of short films about how people use energy and water in their homes, and how they manage their waste. (Scroll to the end of this post to watch the first film!)
Researchers visited six households around the country and observed them going about their daily lives over 1-2 days without revealing that they were interested in green living. These observations, and subsequent interviews with the householders, make up a series of short films which we’ll be posting up in the run-up to the publication of our new report on sustainable living at home, in the next month or so.
We’re also working on a snazzier final film, with multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook, to be released with the report.
These films show that people don’t always behave in the rational way that economists might assume. For example, one film shows that just giving people information often has little effect on their behaviour. “The [advert on energy use], it makes you think, but I think you just think for a little while and then stop thinking about it,” says one householder in Newcastle.
In the real world, factors such as habits, emotions, default settings and social pressures can influence the way we live as much as information and finances. Our report Bringing it Home will look at how effective government policies energy, water and waste in the home have been so far, and explore how insights from disciplines such as psychology, sociology and behavioural economics could make them better.
Keep an eye out over the next few weeks for films on energy and water use, as well as transport and information on green issues. To kick off, here’s our film on waste: