Motivations for Lighter Living Action

Gaining strategic insights on motivations that lead people to lighter living


  • OneEarth Living
  • Share Reuse Repair Initiative


  • Vancity


  • Modo
  • HUB Cycling
  • River Select


  • The Rebuild Hub
  • Kambo Energy Group
  • Vancouver Foundation

The Motivations Study conducted in British Columbia, is now underway in Québec and Guelph-Wellington. Stay tuned for updates as we explore the fascinating Motivations of these diverse regions. Exciting findings coming soon!

Why do some people choose to buy second-hand, eat more plant-based diets and actively reduce their home energy use? And what do these diverse motivations mean for all of our efforts to mainstream sustainable living? 

Motivations Study: Understanding the “Why”

In 2021, OneEarth Living released an insights study on 7 Motivations for Lighter Living Action in British Columbia, prepared jointly with the Share Reuse Repair Initiative (SRRI). 

This Canadian study builds on an approach taken by Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, which yielded 7 dominant motivations for “smart consumption” among the Finnish population. Sitra’s motivation profiles have been used extensively by sustainable brands and social impact entrepreneurs for business planning, marketing and innovation aimed at mainstreaming lighter living actions.

The OneEarth Living team worked with Our Food Future to apply the 7 Motivations in Guelph-Wellington, with surveys and interviews of residents revealing that Shop, Style and Social is the dominant Motivation in this region alongside Eco-Trends. Read more about the 2022 Guelph-Wellington results and implications. Explore how this can support the mainstreaming of lighter living actions, from buying second-hand to eating more plant-based meals.

What’s in the study?

In the Motivations study for British Columbia, you’ll find: 

  • Summary Table of all 7 Motivations for Lighter Living in BC (PDF) Figure out the top Motivations of your target audience, whether it’s reducing waste, staying healthy, caring for the planet or something else (handout, see p. 55 in the study)
  • Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Activation Toolkit (PDF) Learn how to put the 7 Motivations to use in your organization or business, with actions in five key areas: eating, stuff, moving around, home and general lighter living (civic engagement, taking a break, money). The toolkit helps you identify which Motivations to target and how to align your campaign, product or service with their distinct characteristics.
  • Background on “lighter living”, the project and its methodology. OneEarth Living conducted 20 in-depth qualitative interviews and a quantitative study of 1,500 British Columbia residents (Angus Reid Panel) to hone in on the 7 Motivations.

Coming soon: Slide deck, handouts, video/audio clips and a workshop agenda you can take to your own team.

The 7 Motivations for Lighter Living in BC

Waste not, want not
22% of BC Population

PDF | Video

Shop, style and social
20% of BC Population

PDF | Video

20% of BC Population

PDF | Video

Healthy life & planet
14% of BC Population

PDF | Video

Rugged Independence
10% of BC Population

PDF | Video

Practical traditions
7% of BC Population

PDF | Video

Work hard, live large
7% of BC Population

PDF | Video

Find out your dominant Motivation!

You’re probably curious about your own dominant Motivation for lighter living action! Take our short quiz to find out. Are you surprised? Excited? Learn more about your Motivation in our study and see how it resonates. 

Additional resources

Find out more about the 7 Motivations by watching these webinars:

June 2021 Webinar – What Sparks Lighter Living in British Columbia: Launching 7 Motivations

Launches and describes all 7 Motivations for Lighter Living in BC, with remarks on approach, methodology and activation opportunities. Lead sponsors Sitra and Vancity also share their reflections. This is a must-see for those interested in the 7 Motivations for BC.

November 2020 Webinar – Sustainable Lifestyles & the Circular Economy: Canadian Insights on Motivations

This shares the Finnish Motivations and how they are used to advance the circular economy, with early hypotheses for British Columbia (for the final 7 Motivations, see the June 2021 webinar).

About the study

This is not a study of people’s attitudes to sustainability. While our end game is to help residents of British Columbia live lighter in their own way, Sitra’s approach (and ours in BC) is to understand every decision people make. 

People were asked about a range of choices and why they make them (or not) – including where they choose to live, what they choose to eat, how they get around, how they use energy, what they buy and how they invest their money. By understanding why people make certain choices, we can move past the reality that not everyone is motivated by the environment (though many are concerned by climate change). 

People make different choices depending on the situations they’re in. To fully understand this complexity, we can’t simply look at fixed factors of identity, such as demographics and general attitudes. The 7 segments (and % of the BC population) represent motivations, not groups of people.​ Based on this understanding, we can seek to encourage more sustainable choices among people with diverse motivations.

Project Team

Dagmar Timmer

Lindsey Boyle

Majid Khoury

Dr. Vanessa Timmer

Edna Catumbela