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Green consumers have different values towards environmental responsibility depending on where they are, thus challenging conventional marketing techniques focused on home-based activity to promote behavioural change towards the climate.

To better understand what influences consumer attitudes to 'sustainable' living, Stewart Barr and his colleagues at the University of Exeter compiled qualitative data from a sample of residents in the south west of England, using group discussions to determine consumers' sense of responsibility towards the environment in varying situations1. The authors found that looking at consumption in the home may be an insufficient barometer of low-carbon living as individuals who were most committed to sustainable behaviour on the domestic front did not associate their carbon-intensive activities — such as air travel and private car use — with an impact on the climate when those activities took place elsewhere.

Policy makers need to reconsider environmental campaigns aimed at specific segments of the population based solely on home-based behaviour and instead focus on a broader vision of sustainable lifestyles, the authors note.