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Dr Martin Pullinger

Formerly at Lancaster University

Martin Pullinger

Research overview

My research focuses on multi-disciplinary understandings of the interactions between ecological sustainability and human wellbeing.  My work seeks to produce new insights into how different everyday practices and working patterns influence household carbon footprints, energy and water use, as well as wellbeing, and the implications for the design of policies and interventions relating to sustainable lifestyles, practices and behaviours. I take a mixed methods approach, with a focus on statistical methods.

Research Interests

I am currently working on the ARCC-Water project (www.arcc-water.org.uk), on a work package investigating the daily water using practices, habits and routines which contribute to household water use. The work has implications for water demand management and interventions, and for the scaling up and out of practice-based perspectives to incorporate quantitative and mixed-methods approaches.

My research interests include:


  • How everyday habits and routines shape patterns and levels of consumption, and the potential of such a focus on “practices” to produce new insights into designing effective interventions to reduce resource use.
  • Non-Western cultural conceptions of wellbeing and routes to happiness, and their implications for patterns of work and consumption and for economic and social policy.
  • The contribution of urban green space to wellbeing, ecosystem services and biodiversity, including different planning and grassroots approaches to increasing that contribution.
  • The role of art and visual approaches such as GIS mapping in engaging people with nature and environmental issues.
  • The effects of global environmental change and different land and water use patterns and practices on agricultural productivity, biodiversity, habitats, ecosystem services, and their resilience.  I am particularly interested in highly fragmented landscapes such as the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil, the effectiveness of different conservation strategies, and “conservation farming” practices, and in the potential of statistical and spatial analysis/GIS techniques to contribute to understanding these issues.


Previously, for my PhD, completed at the University of Edinburgh, I investigated the potential of policies which allow individuals to voluntarily reduce paid work, and hence levels of income and consumption, to reduce their carbon footprints. I used household expenditure data to model and estimate the potential effects on consumption patterns and total carbon emissions of different scenarios of reduced working time in the UK and Dutch populations. I developed a novel framework for designing working time policy, based on the Dutch “life course approach”, that could help reconcile reduced consumption and carbon footprints with increased wellbeing.

I have also undertaken research for the Scottish Government to investigate the potential of product ecodesign to contribute to waste reduction in Scotland, producing a discussion paper for their 2009 Zero Waste strategy consultation.

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