If the thought of all this giving things up is making you feel glum, think again. There’s a growing body of research that suggests that a low-carbon life is (or at least can be) a fun life. We can consume less, emit less, and be happier.
Angela Druckman and Birgitta Gatersleben at the encouragingly titled Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity at the University of Surrey have published a paper pulling together research on carbon footprints and well-being and happiness. They point out that in current grab-and-go lifestyles, many people are sleep deprived, eat too fast, socialise little, exercise little and drive and sit in traffic too long. More than 30 years data from the US suggests that happier people are more active, socialise more, engage in more sex, spend more time reading newspapers and less time watching television. And there is significant evidence that subjective well-being is higher among those who are more physically, socially and cognitively active.
While this might seem like research discovering the blindingly obvious, it’s worth remembering that more walking and cycling to get around and less being stuck in traffic is good for the environment and good for you. The researchers also suggest social activities like singing in a choir are green and happiness inducing. Sue will not be surprised to hear this! Local competitive sport is great on both fronts. Sue will be indifferent to this. And a bit of neighbourhood socialising goes a long way. The researchers don’t elaborate on the “happy people have more sex” finding.
On the policy side it does point to the importance of local sports and social facilities and making space for cycling and walking in our cities, otherwise we end up back in those traffic jams again.
Anyway, it seems like a good Living Greener challenge… to come up with a list of low-carbon, happiness-inducing activities. Share away…