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Penn McNair Research Journal

Abstract

New Yorkers are estimated to have some of the smallest ecological footprints in America, as the urban landscape of Manhattan has proven to be one of the best energy-saving devices for its overcrowded population. However, the ecological footprint index does not gather information about individuals’ ecological sensibility, which many eco-critics have argued has an important influence on an individual’s environmental impact. This study set out to investigate the ecological sensibility of Manhattan’s urban dwellers with a survey that questions participants’ consumption behavior, understanding of waste and resource sites, perceptions of environmental impact, and understanding of the word ―sustainability.‖ Results suggest the prevalence of some environmentally responsible behaviors versus others, ignorance as to the locations of waste and resource sites, and more individual concern than guilt about the current state of the environment. Finally, study results suggest that there is no generally understood definition of sustainability among New Yorkers.

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