The footprint impacts of our daily lives shift and change across our life stages and transitions.
We can strategically intervene to support changes in habits and practices – especially when these changes are supported and reinforced by our social groups and context.
Our lives are never static – we’re constantly entering new phases, absorbing new experiences and facing new challenges. Some of these transitions we can expect and plan for – like finishing school or higher education, changing careers, becoming parents and retiring. Many more we can’t anticipate or even imagine until they happen.
During these key moments of life transition, we can experience profound changes in our outlooks, our identities and roles, and even our physical bodies and locations. Daily living habits and purchasing patterns are in flux. As such, life transitions are periods that are ripe for introducing and supporting new daily practices and behaviours towards sustainable lifestyles.
Life transitions are periods that are ripe for introducing and supporting new practices and behaviours towards sustainable lifestyles.
The Life Transitions solution area acknowledges and builds on the immense potential to harness life transitions as key moments for introducing sustainable living interventions. Through global partnerships, the Beacon is advancing this work on a large scale based on several key understandings:
- Everyone goes through life transitions, and sometimes several at once.
- How and what we consume evolves based on what phase of life we are in. Carbon and ecological footprints fluctuate across both age demographics and life stages.
- In times of great change, people are often more curious and willing to seek out new information, making them more open to sustainable living ideas, behaviours and practices.
- Life transitions are moments when people experiment with their identities and personal narratives, making them key times to engage people to “try out” sustainable lifestyle options.
- Family and friends have an important influence in how decisions are made. Tapping into the influence of social groups to promote the adoption and continuation of sustainable choices is a useful strategy.
- During some big life moments, such as starting school, an entire cohort is going through the transition simultaneously, allowing for broad interventions that target a larger group.
Communities can develop local economic opportunities around life transitions interventions. For example, wedding planners could help couples add clothing rental options to their registries to help guests reduce the financial stress and waste of buying formal wear. Midwives could connect expecting mothers with services that lease baby supplies. Universities could market subscriptions to incoming students who may need to purchase appropriate seasonal wardrobes.
In British Columbia, Canada, post-secondary institutions automatically include discounted public transit passes in student tuition fees. This encourages students to use public transport, rather than private vehicles, during their transition to university. According to a U-Pass survey, many students continue to use public transit after graduation because they’ve gotten into the habit of it and feel comfortable doing it.
SoKind is a registry platform that makes it easy to give and receive homemade gifts, charitable donations, secondhand goods, experiences, and presents of time and skill for big life events such as graduations, weddings and baby showers. It allows registrants to think outside the box and request or give gifts that are really meaningful and useful, including non-material gifts that support more sustainable lifestyles.
EU’s SWITCH Project
The project encourages EU residents to reduce their car use for short trips in favour of walking and cycling, by providing customized information that responds to their specific circumstances and needs. The project developers found that focusing on the times and locations where habits are being reconsidered due to life transitions had the most impact on the success of the project.
- Capitalize on “Life Transitions” to Instill Better Environmental Behaviors
- New Motherhood: A Moment of Change in Everyday Shopping Practices?
- Reducing Meat Consumption: The Influence of Life Course Transitions, Barriers and Enablers, and Effective Strategies According to Young Dutch Adults
- The Leverage of Demographic Dynamics on Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Does Age Structure Matter?