Honors Thesis Defense- Sophie Chang

Sophie Chang
Environment Economy Development and Sustainability
Advisor: Jeremy Brooks

The Impact of Collaborative Consumption on the Environmental Efficiency of Well-Being (EWEB) of Residents in Columbus, Ohio

Collaborative consumption is comprised of “behaviors that incorporate some form of social interaction, which would be expected to reduce material or energy use, relative to non-sharing alternatives.”  Despite expectations that engagement in collaborative consumption can contribute to lower environmental impacts or increased well-being, it is unclear whether engagement has these intended effects.  To investigate, we used the environmental efficiency of well-being (EWEB), which measures efficiency in enhancing well-being through use of economic, natural, and human resources.  Two crucial components of EWEB are ecological footprint and well-being.  A high EWEB score is indicative of individuals who have high well-being and relatively low ecological footprint.  The purpose of this research is to address whether Columbus residents who report higher engagement in collaborative consumption have higher EWEB scores than those who report less engagement.  Using a survey of 271 residents in the Columbus neighborhoods of Clintonville and Olde Towne East, we collected data on well-being and consumption.  We calculated individual EWEB scores and fit linear regression models to examine whether engagement in collaborative consumption is associated with lower ecological footprint and higher well-being.  Results suggest that, after taking into consideration age and income, individuals who participate in a larger number of collaborative consumption behaviors have significantly higher EWEB scores.  Results also suggest that higher EWEB scores are driven by increases in well-being that stem from sharing rather than from a lower ecological footprint. Future research is needed to understand how engagement in collaborative consumption may also reduce environmental impacts, and how EWEB can best influence policy on a local level to increase well-being of residents.