The Impact of Collaborative Consumption on the Environmental Efficiency of Well-Being (EWEB) of Residents in Columbus, Ohio
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. School of Environment and Natural Resources Honors Theses; 2018
Consumer society has resulted in a wide range of environmental impacts, which has led to questions about whether consumer society and individual consumption actually enhance well- being. There is evidence that pursuing consumerism and consumption negatively impacts well- being (Briceno and Stagl, 2006). The key research question for this study is whether humans can both reduce environmental impacts and improve well-being by altering their consumption patterns. This study examines whether engaging in collaborative consumption can lead to higher levels of well-being and lower ecological footprints. Collaborative consumption is "a form of social exchange that takes place among people known to each other, without any profit" (Eckhardt and Bardhi, 2015). It is unclear from empirical research whether or not collaborative consumption actually improves well-being and decreases environmental impact. One way of measuring these factors is the environmental efficiency of well-being (EWEB), which was originally developed to assess a nation-state's efficiency in enhancing human well-being through the use of economic, natural, and human resources (Dietz et al., 2009). For this study, I predicted that higher reported engagement in collaborative consumption would correspond to higher EWEB scores. Studies on whether engagement in collaborative consumption actually leads to lower environmental impacts or increased sustainability are sparse. It is unknown whether higher engagement in collaborative consumption practices actually leads to higher levels of EWEB. This research explores the relationship between engagement in collaborative consumption and the EWEB scores of Columbus residents. This study was designed to examine Columbus residents' perceptions of their well-being and measure their consumption habits. Data was collected using a 20-page survey distributed to Columbus residents in Clintonville and Olde Towne East, two neighborhoods that vary in socioeconomic conditions. The key dependent variable is EWEB, which is calculated using measures of an individual's self-reported well-being and ecological footprint. The key independent variable is engagement in collaborative consumption, which is measured by responses to questions about 17 collaborative consumption behaviors. There were 271 completed survey responses. We fit linear regression models to examine the relationship between collaborative consumption and EWEB. Results indicate that there is a positive and statistically significant relationship between engagement in collaborative consumption and EWEB, after controlling for age and income, and accounting for heteroscedasticity. Results also suggest that impact of collaborative consumption on EWEB is largely driven by increases in well-being rather than reductions in ecological footprint. Moreover, results suggest that the relationship between collaborative consumption and EWEB varies by neighborhood: it is statistically significant in Clintonville, but not Olde Towne East. These results have implications for individuals' ability to reduce environmental impacts through collaborative consumption. Future studies exploring collaborative consumption and its relationship to the EWEB should select a wider range of territories to control for social and economic factors, and a smaller set of collaborative consumption behaviors to focus results. Developing a better understanding of what factors contribute to increasing well-being and reducing ecological footprint can influence policy decisions to positively impact communities. Future research within the area of collaborative consumption and EWEB is necessary to make informed and socially beneficial policy decisions on the local level, and beyond.
Academic Major: Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability
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