|dc.description.abstract||The depletion of the environment is a serious phenomenon which has been a highly debated issue in the past few decades (Sanders, 2007:1; Straughan & Roberts, 1999:558). However, there is general consensus about the presence of this phenomenon (McClure, 2007:1). It is also widely believed that the catalyst for the depletion of the environment is human beings. Human consumption patterns are seen as major drivers in the depletion of the environment (De Sherbinin, Carr, Cassels, & Jiang, 2007:345). Research further shows an increase in consumption patterns in the last decade (Chen & Chai, 2010:28; Juwaheer, 2005:57). Therefore, there is a need for consumers to monitor and change their consumption patterns to more eco-friendly ways.
The study deliberates the issues of green consumer behaviour, environmental concerns, the awareness of environmental issues and the reasons for the lack of Ecologically Conscious Consumer Behaviour (ECCB) amongst the population under study. It further studies the green gap which is the difference between ECCB and Environmental concerns.
A descriptive research design with a survey of 330 respondents as a sample of the Pietermaritzburg population was used. Descriptive and inferential analyses were conducted. The study intended to describe the environmental attitudes, behaviour and awareness of consumers in Pietermaritzburg.
Results depict relatively high levels of awareness of environmental issues. There were high awareness levels for issues such as climate change, save the rhino awareness and overpopulation. However, in terms of concern for the environment, results indicate only an average level of environmental concern. This means that although consumers are aware of environmental issues, many are not concerned about the environment.
Furthermore, results indicated that respondents exhibit varying levels of green consumer behaviour which also differs by type of behaviour. However, the respondents demonstrate only moderate levels of green behaviour in relation to the overall construct. Respondents participated in activities of reducing, recycling and reusing, and agreed to boycott products that are detrimental to the environment. Yet consumers also displayed that that they still purchase products with aerosol containers and have not participated in signing the 49M pledge for reducing electricity. There were several reasons which respondents indicated were part of their not adopting green consumer behaviour. The lack of promotion of green products and of mechanisms to adopt a green lifestyle, such as different coloured rubbish bins which assist in separating the products for recycling/disposing, were some of the main reasons for their lack of green consumer behaviour. Various constructs had an impact on the
demographics of this study. Income and race had a significant relationship with environmental concern: where respondents resided had a significant impact on green consumer behaviour. Lastly, the ‘green gap’ was seen to have a significant relationship with resident and race. A key conclusion is thus that Pietermaritzburg consumers show reasonable levels of environmental awareness and concern but are still finding it challenging to change their awareness and concern into meaningful green consumer behaviour. Thus a green gap exists amongst these Pietermaritzburg respondents.
Recommendations are made in relation to improving the purchasing of green products and increasing consumers’ environmental concern. Implications for management are discussed and a green marketing strategy is recommended.||en_US