Making Healthy & Sustainable Living Choices

by Dr. Marla E. Jirak, Owner, CoachSmart Consulting, LLC

What actually drives people to make changes to be healthy and live more sustainably?

A 2020 international study was designed with various partners including CVS, Ikea, PepsiCo and Visa to help organizations get a better understanding of the mindsets of people.

The top four very serious global problems were seen as:

  • Coronavirus
  • Spreading human disease
  • Climate change
  • Depletion of natural resources

People may know these are serious concerns but tend to not act on changing their lifestyle because they believe it is too difficult to do.

People throughout the world are more likely to change if it is easy for them and their family to engage in changes that benefit them and the environment.

Affordability is important when encouraging the initiation of healthy and sustainable behaviors.

The study indicated that 50% of the people want companies to partake in sustainable living and make more affordable products and services better for people and the environment. Current prices for those products tend to be more expensive, and with the cost of all goods and services increasing, people may choose the cheaper option.

Motivation is key in changing behavior.

If you don’t see the real advantage or don’t have the energy or ease of completing a change, the change is less likely to occur. This study found that 61% of the people want to change, but only 31% implemented major changes to live healthier.

When it comes to who is serious about changes, younger generations are consistently more eager to make a concerted effort to become healthier, more environmentally friendly, and more helpful to others.

As many as 70% of Gen Z respondents and 66% of millennial respondents stated they wanted to become healthier. The behaviors that people indicated they were most interested in changing in the next year included:

  • Taking care of their financial health.
  • Saving energy at home.
  • Reducing food waste.
  • Taking care of mental health.
  • Spending time with family and friends.
  • Eating healthy and nutritious food.

With the current financial challenges everyone has been under in the last two years, the need for affordability has intensified. Having gone through a pandemic has increased family stress levels and if the actions are difficult, people are less likely to undertake a change and become healthier and live a more sustainable life.