Children’s sustainability stories: nightmares or fairy tales? An in-depth study into children’s awareness and concerns regarding sustainability and its influence on their behavior and consumption.

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In light of children’s recent demonstrations against climate change, this thesis investigates children’s awareness and concerns regarding sustainability and its influence on children’s behavior and consumption. As previous research has mainly focused on sustainability concerns of (young) adults, this study focuses on children between seven and eleven. Children between seven and eleven have developed the necessary cognitive- and social capabilities to participate in this study. A qualitative approach was taken by interviewing a total of 33 children and 22 parents. Findings were analyzed via ATLAS.ti and suggest that children between seven and eleven are aware of sustainability. Furthermore, they express concerns about nine topics: animals, plastic, pollution, nature, energy, transport, recycling, climate change and their future. These concerns impact a child’s behavior. The majority of children often translate concerns about plastic, pollution, energy, transport and recycling into behavior. Behavior regarding animals and nature is less common. In addition, children express a desire to consume sustainably and are positively disposed towards sustainable products. However, the majority of children does not consume sustainably in practice yet. Overall, the findings suggest a relationship between awareness, concerns, behavior and product choice. Future research could test this relationship in a large-scale study or future research could study on of the other six developed propositions. This thesis suggests managers should clearly communicate a product’s sustainability credentials and use sustainability in their product positioning to create additional value. Society at large could benefit from this thesis as it stresses children understand sustainability problems well and should be included into designing their future.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen