Research profile: Louise Spiteri

Louise Spiteri, School of Information Management

Identities, motivations and social impact of sustainable lifestyle movements: An examination of online zero waste communities

This study is the second part of a larger research project that aims to examine the identities, motivations, information behaviours, activities and social impacts of online zero waste (ZW) communities. The first study focused on ZW activities that members incorporate into their daily lives. The World Bank estimated that by 2050, waste generation will drastically outpace population growth by more than double. While large-scale ZW initiatives from corporations and government agencies are crucial in global efforts to manage waste, the World Bank report emphasized the importance of citizen engagement in tackling waste production. Despite the rapid growth of online ZW communities, the impact of ZW activities at a personal level has not been examined in any detail.

This research program builds on work in library and information science (LIS) that examines virtual communities. This study can contribute to LIS research by offering insight into how people share meaning, identity, practices and goals in lifestyles aimed at social change. As interest in sustainable lifestyles and environmental actions continues to rise, given the increasing urgency of climate change, LIS practitioners and researchers need to learn more about the nature of sustainable lifestyle movements to better understand and address the information practices and needs of followers of these movements. These enquiries could serve to assist LIS professionals in working with members of ZW communities to ensure equitable access to relevant information resources and videos, host local workshops, create lists of local shopping and freecycle options, and so forth.