“Human activities are largely responsible for creating all these threats to life support systems both locally and globally” (Ara, 2001). Therefore, human beings have the biggest responsibility and capability, as well, to work hard for sustainability. Apparently, environmental sustainability can only be achieved when people are made aware of what is happening in the environment and its consequences. Warren and Goldsmith (1974) cited in Muttaqi (1983), described the need for environmental awareness this way: “Today many facets of our environment – population, pollution, natural resources, natural balance, wild life, etc. are widely recognized to be in need of urgent attention. Their long-term management has become very important both in the developed and in the developing countries of the world.” Thus, calls for the new wave of “environmentally literate” citizens to take over.
“Environmental literacy is about practices, activities, and feelings grounded in familiarity and sound knowledge. Just as reading becomes second nature to those who are literate, interpreting and acting for the environment ideally would become second nature to the environmentally literate citizen. We take the idea of literacy a step farther, intending not only an “understanding of the language of the environment, but also its grammar, literature, and rhetoric.” (Bobick, 2001) Furthermore, it is true that “Acts of conservation without the requisite desires and skills are futile. To create these desires and skills, and the community motive, is the task of education.” (Leopold, 2002) So all of us especially those who are members of the academic community can contribute much in alleviating the persistence of environmental degradation through environmental education. The required knowledge, attitudes, skills and encouragement can be achieved through environmental literacy. Thus, by budding environmental literate mass, the Earth can remain worth living and we can hope for a sustainable future.
The hostile effects of these changes in the environment had brought the attention of the international community which prompted the formulation of an action plan for sustainable development for the 21st Century in Rio de Jeniero during the 1992 Earth Summit. A declaration binds all government and states to promote sustainable development Called Agenda 21 focused on the problems of human development and the preservation of the world’s ecological heritage. The earth summit agreement adopted two legally binding Conventions aimed at preventing global climate change and the eradication of the diversity of biological species.
The interdependence of man and the environment in its holistic form needs a better understanding. This is necessary for the protection and improvement of the environment and the survival of man. There is undoubtedly a balanced relationship between man and the environment, this has to be maintained. For a long time, man cherished the concept that he was the master of the environment. This has been the most erroneous and damaging concept developed in respect to man-environment relationship. Environmental education is a necessary tool for taking appropriate decisions concerning the solution and prevention of environmental problems which are considered disequilibrium caused by certain factors in the established relationship between man, animals, plants and others. For a very long time, man’s activities on the environment have become more pronounced in different spheres, culminating in serious environmental problems. Man therefore needs to be educated for the understanding, solution and prevention of these problems. (Ayeni, 2014)
Promoting environmental literacy has been one of the most pressing issues of today. Huge companies, industries, manufacturers, fast food chains, and puroks in all barangay have started zero waste policies and 3 R’s (reduce, reuse recycle); different local government units have implemented no “segregation, no collection” policy wherein domestic and industrial wastes/ garbage won’t be collected unless they are segregated into at least biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes. These policies aim towards environmental sustainability; hoping to have a livable environment in the future despite the environmental degradation taking place in the present times. Hence, environmental literacy is very significant for all. Recent environmental scenario, the call for eco-friendly barangay and the need for more environmental advocates may all be addressed through Environmental literacy. Thus, this study is born.
The term “environmental literacy” was first coined by Charles Roth (1992) as cited by Lewis (2008) in his own admission through his essay for the Massachusetts Audubon magazine in 1968. In that essay he stated that citizens who were illiterate about the environment could become environmentally literate, just as a person could become literate in the sense of being able to read and write, through education. Roth (1968)initially identified the litterbug or a person who buys non-returnable bottles as an environmentally illiterate person. Also, people who dump sewage or industrial waste in rivers and builds noisy polluting machines are also considered environmentally illiterate. He added that the “results of such illiteracy are rivers and lakes that are polluted beyond use; air rapidly becoming a hazard to health and lays a periodic threat to life”. There have been many instances that show the consequences of having environmentally illiterate people around and these have been evidently observed in our streets and communities nowadays.(Lewis, 2008)
The foundation of environmental literacy is an “understanding that the change, or the principle of Creation, is a continual flow of cause-and-effect relationships that precisely fit into one another at differing scales of space and time and are constantly changing within and among those scales.(Maser,1997) ” Furthermore, the notion of environmental literacy and defined it as knowledge of how the world functions and how humans can preserve and sustain the environment. This means that an environmentally literate person is well versed with basic knowledge about the ecology and environmental issues; has pro-environment attitude which is further expressed by his/her pro-environmental behaviors. (Roth , Harvey and Orr)
“The overarching goal of environmental education is an environmentally literate citizenry. The test of environmental literacy is the capacity of an individual to act successfully in daily life on a broad understanding of how people and societies relate to each other and to natural systems, and how they might do so sustainably. (Campaign for Environmental Literacy in 2007)
Certainly, this requires sufficient awareness, knowledge, skills, and attitudes in order to incorporate appropriate environmental considerations into daily decisions about consumption, lifestyle, career, and civics, and to engage in individual and collective action. With this, it is appropriate to say that the best vehicle to acquire these pre-requisites to be environmentally literate is Purok leaders’ active participation of the Environmental literacy program of their barangay.
Hence, environmental literacy does not just involve adequate knowledge about the environment but more of a person’s ability to manifest pro-environment attitudes and behaviors. In an article in the Journal of Environmental Psychology entitled “A new meta-analysis of psychosocial determinants of pro-environmental behavior”, pro-environmental behavior is probably a mixture of self-interest (e.g., to pursue a strategy that minimizes one’s own health risk) and of concern for other people, the next generation, other species, or whole ecosystems (e.g., preventing air pollution that may cause risks for others’ health and/or the global climate). Therefore, when measuring environmental literacy, one should consider the three components which include environmental knowledge, pro-environment attitudes and pro-environment behavior and practices. (Bamberg 2007)
The model for Responsible Environmental Behavior which was based on Ajzen and Fishbein’s theory of planned behavior (Hines et al., 1986–87; Hungerford ; Volk 1990; Sia et al.1985–86) simplifies the components that mediate behavior from awareness or attitude, which is influenced by knowledge. The model for Responsible Environmental Behavior (REB) can be described as that increasing the basic ecological knowledge would also increase the awareness of individuals and thus changes attitude which correspondingly changes individual behavior. The model also shows the relationship between the components of environmental literacy (EL) (Hungerford, 1990).
Figure 1. Modified Model of Responsible Environmental Behavior (Marcinowski;Rehring 1995)
Furthermore, a simplified model of the Theory of Responsible Environmental Behavior to hold on to the major components of environmental literacy.(Marcinowski and Rehring 1995) The model was originally composed of four sections of which the affective component and self-efficacy are combined as the attitude component (Figure 1). This modified model of Marcinowski and Rehring (1995), and as adapted by Kibert (2000) and Araneta (2009), is the basis of this study.
?According to the model in the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Theory of Responsible Environmental Behavior, behavior is attenuated by the environmental attitude and intention (Kaiser, et al., 1999; Kuhlemeler, et al., 1999; Hines, et al., 1989; Kibert, 2000; Araneta, 2009). Environmental literacy components’ relationships with demographics are stressed to have a bearing on behavior, however differs across these demographics (Budak, et al., 2005; Agbing, 1995; O’Briene; Pease, 2007; Araneta,
Theory of Planned Behavior
“only specific knowledge on environmental concepts develops specific environmental attitudes and intention bridged between attitude and behavior”
Theory of Responsible Behavior
“increased ecological knowledge increases awareness and hence changes attitude which correspondingly changes behavior”
(Hungerford H.R. ; Volk, T. 1990)
R.A 9512 “The Philippine Environmental Awareness Act of 2008”
Philippine Environment Code (P.D 1152)
Environmental Literacy Framework (adapted by Kibert, 2000 and Araneta, 2009)