Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of science (BS)


Global Honors

First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Bruch


Everyday environmentally conscious decisions such as recycling, composting, buying sustainable food, or driving an electric car, are becoming more prevalent in major cities of the United States and the world. As environmental degradation increases and people are negatively impacted, policy makers have begun to create public policies to address these growing environmental concerns. However, not all peoples are impacted the same, and not all policies are equitable. Therefore, the purpose of this project was to determine first, if income played a role in the making of environmentally conscious consumer decisions, and second, if policy makers thought the same. Through quantitative surveys of consumers in Washington state, as well as qualitative interviews with Washington state policymakers and influencers, we better understood the role income played in the environmentally friendly decision making through the thoughts of said consumers and policy makers. Local, regional, and possibly even national, governing bodies can benefit from this research by forming an understanding how an individual’s life circumstances affect their perceptions of environmental degradation, and their wishes to make environmentally friendly decisions. Governing bodies would also be able to form public policy which addresses environmental concerns, and still remain feasible to one’s individual economic circumstances. As the natural environment is continually impacted by our actions, it is vital to understand why a person may or may not make a decision that would benefit the environment because human survival may depend on it.


This project would not have come to fruition without the help of multiple people and groups. First, thank you to my faculty advisor Dr. Elizabeth Bruch, and my research partner Rebecca Dickson. Second, thank you to the Bamford Family Foundation for providing the funding to make this research possible in the first place. Third, thank you to all involved in the University of Washington Tacoma Global Honors Program and the Institute of Global Engagement including, but not limited to Dr. Divya McMillin, Lynn Hermanson, Alexis Wheeler, and Dr. Joanne Clarke Dillman. Fourth, thank you to the many professors that gave us feedback and support such as Dr. Tom Koontz, Dr. Ben Meiches, Dr. Will McGuire, and Dr. Chris Schell.