Ethical and Sustainable Coffee Consumption on Studley Campus, Dalhousie University
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This research investigates the prevalence of ethical coffee consumption among Dalhousie University’s undergraduate student population. We analyse how individual perspectives on the impacts of coffee production influence consumptive behaviours on Studley Campus by collecting survey data and observing consumer choices. We have determined that the relationship between environmentally conscious perspectives and ethical coffee consumption behaviour is weak. 75% of survey participants indicate that they care about the environmental implications of the coffee they consume on campus. However, 50% of participants were unaware of which popular campus coffee shops carry fair-trade coffee products, and on average, students claimed to prioritize cost, proximity, flavour, and available food options over sustainability when deciding where to buy coffee. Our findings suggest that this discrepancy may be due to the accessibility of information regarding the coffee brands offered on campus and the environmental implications associated with these products. Additionally, we found that Dalhousie undergraduate students feel constrained by prices, and on average, prefer to buy the least expensive coffee on campus. We recommend that future studies explore the correlation between coffee prices and product consumption at Dalhousie University, so that consumer responsiveness to price changes on university campuses can be predicted. In a broader context, this recommended research could be used to model the effects of fair-trade coffee subsidies on consumer behaviour, or to illustrate the benefits of educating students on the environmental impacts of the products they purchase regularly.