The Bridge Between Attitude and Action

As with any type of ideology or beliefs system, a person’s environmental ideology is influenced by several factors. These beliefs are dependent upon upbringing and/or childhood experiences, place of belonging, and historical backgrounds. These elements all play a role in how humans receive and interpret messages pertaining to the environment.

As children, we form some of the most vital and fundamental bonds with our natural surroundings that follow us throughout our lives and shape our actions as adults. Those who are raised in big cities or suburbs have different connections and relationships with the natural world than those coming from rural areas.

Julia Corbett, author of Communicating Nature, refers to the feeling of belonging and security as “sense of place.” She explains that “our relation to a physical place helps us make sense of the world” and it “affects the social role you see for yourself” (18).

Around the world, different communities and groups have different cultural norms and a unique history that serve as the basis for their beliefs about the environment. Corbett brings to light the fact that in the United States, many views regarding the environment have roots in Judeo-Christian values, which place the power of humans over nature (23).

These few determinants help shape the environmental beliefs that an individual chooses to stand by. We all fall into a certain category when it comes to our environmental beliefs. As decision-making adults, we act according to our value orientation.

To better break down the types of value orientations that humans typically fall under, there are three main orientations:

Egoistic- Consider only negative and positive outcomes for the individual

Social-Altruistic- Consider outcomes and wellbeing for people in general

Biocentric- Consider the negative and positive outcomes for the environment

Individuals base their decisions pertaining to the environment based on the orientation they best identify with or their environmental ideology.

The summarization of environmental values and ideologies above control the bulk of how, or if, individuals choose to act on these issues that are causing so much alarm around the world. The actions and steps taken because of these beliefs and attitude are what define individuals as activists, environmentalists, etc.

There are many different forms of expression concern for the environment as defined by Corbett:

Environmental Activism- “the active involvement in environmental organizations and their activities” (71)

Nonactivist Behavior in the Public Sphere- individuals or institutions who support the goals of an orginazation in a public manner

Private Sphere Environmentalism- the demonstration of environmental concern on a private level (in the household, office, etc.)

Actions Within Organizations- the demonstration of environmental concern within an organization or business

The following videos outline the growing issues that are the dangerous accumulation of plastic and the depletion of Earth’s usable water.

One personal observation I have made is my mother’s specific values and ideology in respects to the environment due to her upbringing. She is always reminding me to use reusable shopping bags and tupperware containers. My family hasn’t really been known to be extremely environmentally aware; however, my mom has taught me to always keep reusable grocery bags on hand, and we rarely use plastic ziploc bags. This was something she learned from her mother as well. So, while my mom is no bike-riding vegan, one value she holds close in her set of environmental beliefs is reducing the amount of plastic currently being used. So she is can perfect example of how a person’s environmental ideology or set of values can directly impact their lifestyle and behaviors.

The two videos above that demonstrate the issues of the overusage of both water and plastic can prompt different reactions from individuals depending on their environmental views. Someone like Donald Trump, who prioritizes almost everything else above environmental concerns, would probably not feel motivated to act after watching them. My mom on the other hand, who is very invested in reducing her use of plastic would likely feel compelled to take action and learn more. [663]

Sources Cited:

Corbett, J. B. (2006). Communicating nature how we create and understand environmental messages. Washington, DC: Island Press.

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