The Psychology behind a Disposable Society?

Hello everyone, I’m Rach the new social media assistant for Luna Beauty! I am studying Psychology at University and have a passion for sustainable living, I’m even doing my final year dissertation on how the Media affects Sustainable Behaviour (Dedicated right?). So I thought I’d write a little blog post for you guys about the “Psychology Behind a Disposable Society.” Psychology basically encompasses all human behaviour and since we (as a species) have managed to damage our planet, and continue to do so despite all the warnings from various scientists across the globe, there's clearly something Psychological going on here. So I’ve been doing a bit of research on the subject...
 
Recently, we have seen mainstream media begin to educate people on the issues surrounding our wasteful lifestyles, as many were touched by the story of the young whale aired in the final episode of the Blue Planet II. Yet despite this, we continue to live in a society where we can buy disposable straws and other single-use plastic items much cheaper and more readily available than reusable and sustainable options. You may choose to buy these products, having just read an article about a turtle with a straw stuck up their nose and not see the issue. Since you will dispose of them properly right?  And that right there, is the problem… We have been so well trained by society to create a demand for single use items, so companies can keep reeling in the profits over items which have to be re-purchased regularly. We have been taught that putting things in the bin is good for the environment and that recycling is even better. But did you know that in the UK, only around 45% of our waste gets recycled? We seem to have a mental dissociation with our waste once we have done one of those things. Once we have thrown it away, it seems to magically disappear. The reality however is much more horrible (imagine all the bin bags you have ever taken out, just sitting steaming in a landfill somewhere- yuck) in the UK we throw out our own body weight in rubbish every 7 weeks, collectively thats 18 million tonnes of waste a year, just in the UK! So why have you lovely people potentially never thought about the link between your own personal waste that goes in the bin in your house and the scenes we see on tv?
 
Having done some research, I found that although educating people about the issues of sustainability (especially when you make people cry *cough, Blue Planet*) is obviously really
good at making people aware of the issues, but something I also found in a lot of the academic papers is that we seem to have an attitude-behaviour gap (kinda like the mental dissociation I was going on about). Because a lot of us see the consequences of un-sustainable living as something that will affect us right now, we don’t act with urgency. Our beaches are (relatively) clean, we don’t live near Landfill sites and recycling plants are hidden behind great big walls. I think no matter who we are, we can admit that sometimes we do things even if we know they aren't great for the environment, for ease or because we have no other options at that moment in time (I know myself, I’m guilty of this sometimes). So what can we do?  Research suggests that simply increasing agency or taking responsibility for our own wasteful behaviours can help us to reduce our waste. So why not keep track of your waste and just see how much you waste in one day? And perhaps the next day try to better that. But what about the whole disposable society thing? (I hear you ask) Now that bit is a little more complicated, but we need to convince those in positions of power that sustainability is profitable. Seek out local shops that are trying to reduce their plastic, buy the things in the glass jars, choose package free shampoos from sustainable companies, and care about where your food comes from. Individually, yes our actions are small, but together we are pushing for change. For example, we have seen this with the demand in mainstream media for cruelty free beauty products, as well as the recent increase in vegan products in supermarkets in response to Veganuary.  That's why at Luna Beauty, we care so much about not only pushing ourselves as individuals to reduce our waste, but also as a business refusing to use single-use plastic packaging, using 100% Vegan, Cruelty-free ingredients and inspiring those who want to reduce their waste... there is a whole community of support out there waiting for you!