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Public understanding of sustainable water - EV0503

How people use water in their homes makes a significant difference to the sustainability of the UK’s water supplies. Whilst existing research shows that there is widespread awareness of the overall issue of water conservation, in-home behaviour is influenced by a wide range of other factors including habits, assumptions, beliefs and aspirations. In order to be effective, policy and communications initiatives designed to encourage people to use water in a responsible way must be built on robust evidence about these influencing factors.

This research programme is designed to uncover these underlying aspirations, assumptions and expectations around sustainable water use in the home. The results will provide the evidence needed to inform future social marketing and policy development by exploring:
• Aspirations around water consumption and water using products
• Assumptions about what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘good’
• Understanding of sustainable water use in the home
• Willingness and ability to act

A series of group discussions will be held in order to understand underlying motivations and attitudes. Our sample design will be informed by three key factors which previous research suggests will make the biggest difference to attitudes: Defra’s segmentation, geographical location and metering status. Demographic factors will also be built in to the segment profiles. Addressing the range of objectives will require careful design: we suggest masking the topic to enable us to explore aspirations and assumptions spontaneously before probing understanding and knowledge and providing participants with information to consider. However, to make the groups as effective as possible, we will design a pretask for participants around kitchen/bathroom usage in the home which does not refer explicitly to water usage. We will also undertake follow up telephone interviews around two weeks after the group discussions have taken place, to explore any further thoughts or changes in perception once participants have had the opportunity to digest the information received.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Public Understanding of Sustainable Water Use - Final Report   (2086k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2008

To: 2009

Cost: £64,277
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Behaviour change              
Social Research              
Fields of Study
Sustainable Consumption and Production