Early childhood educators and sustainability - Sustainable living and its materialising in everyday life

  • Arto O. Salonen
  • Sylvia Hakari
Nyckelord: sustainable living, education for sustainable development, early childhood educators, early childhood education and care.


The aim of this study is to explore a sustainable lifestyle and its materialising in the everyday life of Finnish early childhood educators (n = 219) from the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland. The data were collected during 2012 using a semantic differential technique. The data were analysed using quantitative methods. We identified a gap between early childhood educators’ thinking (importance of sustainable living) and actual behaviour (materialising of sustainable living). The gap was the narrowest in favouring a vegetarian diet. The largest gap was in replacing goods and equipment only when broken. Increasing activity in non-governmental organisations seems to be a good way of narrowing the gap between thinking and behaviour in general. According to our findings, sustainable living was divided into two orientations: a regional and a temporal orientation. The age of the early childhood educators correlated with sustainable lifestyles. Older respondents seemed to have a more sustainable lifestyle. Our main conclusion is that the fundamental target for human growth is to expand the sphere of human responsibility towards regional and temporal orientations.