Imperial College London

Being green can make you happy, says new study....


Research shows link between being environmentally friendly and personal well-being - <em>News</em>

Tuesday 19 December 2006
By Naomi Weston

Matthew Mellen found that people who live a more eco-friendly lifestyle have improved well beingNew research conducted by a Masters student from Imperial College London shows a significant link between environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours and personal well-being.

Matthew Mellen who has just finished his MSc in Environmental Technology conducted the research and found that people who live a more eco-friendly lifestyle have improved well being.

Matthew undertook a comprehensive survey of 700 anonymous individuals using new online research software. He analysed people's levels of 'greenness' by examining their awareness of environmental issues and their behaviour for example the amount they cycled or walked rather than drove. The participants then reported their subjective well-being by assigning scores to statements about their life satisfaction, personal development and social well-being.

The research revealed that those people who live more 'eco-lifestyles' tend to score significantly higher in subjective well-being assessments. Matthew explains: "It is really common sense, human culture is found within the natural world. At a fundamental level harm to the environment is harm to us. Conversely healthy, secure human societies require healthy, stable eco-systems. A growing body of research links planetary and personal well-being. It is fascinating to note that the solution to global warming is likely to be equitable sharing of 'carbon rights' which should contribute to making the world a safer, happier place."

The main elements of a green lifestyle that improve personal well-being highlighted in the research include, a sense of connection to nature which improves health and happiness, involvement in local communities, and non-materialist values.

Matthew added that although traditional economics suggests that well-being is a function of increasing consumption and that continuous economic growth is required for on-going increases in well-being. This study suggests the opposite: "On going economic growth seems to be responsible for the twin ills of environmental degradation and declines in human well-being," he said.

Notes to editors:

For more information about this survey or to receive a copy of the report please contact Matthew Mellen on

The well-being section of the survey employed scales used and tested by the New Economics Foundation ( ). The NEF approach examines 3 areas of personal well-being; life satisfaction, personal development and social well-being. The New Economics Foundation has a range of publications on human well-being and the environment.

Press office

Press Office
Communications and Public Affairs

Click to expand or contract

Contact details