Current consumption levels of the industrialised countries are characterized by massive over-consumption. There is clear evidence, that these levels of consumption cause irreparable environmental damage and widespread social problems.
Education for Sustainable Consumption (ESC), as part of the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), is a driving force both for national and global sustainability strategies. ESC thus plays a key role in transforming the existing unsustainable toward more sustainable consumption patterns.
ESC encompasses more than purely knowledge-based education.The acquisition of specific consumer competences is at the forefront of the ESC-agenda; actors of all ages shall be empowered to actively and self-dependently determine more sustainable options for action (BMBF 2009).
The overall objective of BiNKA is to strengthen the effectiveness of ESC. For this purpose, BiNKA envisages the conceptualisation and measurement of the relationship between mindfulness and sustainable consumption behavior. A practical prerequisite for this is the development of a mindfulness training to promote sustainable consumption (“BiNKA Training”). The trainings are conducted and analysed in cooperation with the practice partners of the project (3 companies, 1 school, 3 universities). Strengthening of cognitive, emotional and spiritual behavioral requirements for sustainable consumption could support expansion and deepening of current educational approaches in ESC.
In western societies, there is a basic yet growing desire to change and adapt individual consumption behaviour. The manifold ESC initiatives and actions contribute positively and directly towards this tendency of changing ones approach, which is documented in many empirical studies.
In everyday life, however, the implementation of the positive attitude towards sustainability often does not translate into actual behaviour. This is due to deficient offers and information provided and also deep and unreflected consumption habits. This discrepancy between individual’s attitude and actual action, the so-called attitude-behavior gap, has already been extensively investigated and researched. The BiNKA project is the first systematic study to examine and analyse the relationship between mindfulness training and sustainable consumption in relation to the attitude-behavior gap. It is an innovative approach that could potentially help to overcome the gap. Results are thus highly relevant to the practical design and implementation of ESC in schools, colleges and workplaces.
The heart of the project is the mindfulness training adapted to include ESC elements. The training consists of an 8-week course comprising one 90 min. session per week. Within the last 2 weeks the “Day of Mindfulness” (4 hours) is carried out. In addition, participants are given instructions for daily, individual practices. Short- and long-term effects of this training are evaluated by means of partly newly developed quantitative and qualitative evaluation tools (Mixed-Methods approach).