Meet your neighbor helps save the planet. That is the main finding of a study that socializing with neighbors leads to beneficial behaviors for the planet, even more than spending time with friends or family.
The study, published in Environment and Behavior, found that those who visit their neighbors are more likely to cultivate positive habits on the environment, specifically in relation to the conservation of water and energy consumption of organic fruits and vegetables and use automotive sound.
"These findings suggest that our neighbors play a unique and crucial for us to act on climate change role," says study author Thomas Macias, University of Vermont. "Surprisingly, the effects in favor of ecology were higher from the relationship of people to their neighbors than dealing with relatives or close friends."
Researchers attribute the differences, in part, to the fact that with relatives cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are shared, which is a "similarity that provides emotional benefits, but limited exposure to important new ideas," says Macías, professor of Sociology in that university.
In contrast, the neighbors are relative but sufficiently different to expose a greater amount of fresh information, such as related issues and environmental practices.
The shared geography means that the neighborhood discussions gravitate naturally toward sustainability issues.
To identify predictors of 'green behavior', the researchers used US General Survey 2010, the largest and newest in terms of attitudes and behaviors related to the environment in that country behaviors inventory. Scientists compared the results with green three variables: personal relationships, generalized trust and participation in community organizations.
"The neighbors may be important role models," says Macias. "Talks neighborhood, exchanges sidewalk and neighborhood visits can be some of the best ways to learn about environmentally friendly practices."
Conclusion: Be kind to your neighbors; could be the secret to greater action on climate change, say researchers.