Study: Singles Need TreeHugger Most

Is your mission to have fun and live well--while being green? And are you living alone? A new study suggests that singles could make the biggest impact towards minimizing environmental footprints if their awareness could be raised and well-designed sustainable lifestyle products targeted to their needs. Well, actually, the study calls singles "a potential environmental time bomb". But if there's one thing the leaders at the forefront of the new eco and sustainability movement have learned, it is that you cannot terrify people into being green. Better to focus on the positive side of the message: "One-person households are now wealthier than ever and may be willing to put money into more environmentally-friendly homes and products".The paper ‘Innovative solutions for averting a potential resource crisis – the case of one-person households in England and Wales', was led by Dr. Jo Williams of the University College of London, and published on 1st August online in the journal ‘Environment, Development and Sustainability’. Dr. Williams found that, for example, singles throw out 1600kg per head, compared with an average of 1000kg waste per capita in a four-person household. They consume 38% more products, generate 42% more packaging waste, use 55% more electricity and guzzle 61% more gas than each member in the traditional nuclear family. And this segment of the population is growing. The "environmental time bomb" thing comes into play when the consumption statistics face the demographic trend, which predicts that single homes will grow to 38% of households in the UK in 20 years. The German newspaper Die Zeit put things in a bit of perspective: "the demographic bomb has gone off--and nobody noticed!" Die Zeit references the German microcensus (link in German) which finds that single households hit 38% already in 2005- up 4% from 1991. So maybe it is too soon to panic.

But not too soon to get the message out to designers and singles alike. Dr. Williams' findings suggest that many living alone do so out of circumstances rather than choice. The study proposes expansion of the supply of living spaces designed for the single -- with some image amelioration through advertising to replace the usual dormitory or group-housing connotations with a mood of prestige and community. Furthermore, the study encourages a little government sponsored education, because the newly aware single will gladly dedicate some extra money to the choice of sustainable products. But you already know that: you are living proof. If you are living single, tell us your best tricks to avoid the single-serving waste trap in the comments.

Via tipster Christine Gautier and Die Zeit (German).

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