• The authors are grateful to the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) for financial support through national funds FCT/MCTES (PIDDAC) to CIMO (UIDB/00690/2020 and UIDP/00690/2020) and SusTEC (LA/P/0007/2020).
  • The challenge of sustainable development and consumption is to satisfy current desires without impoverishing future generations and the planet in the long term. Therefore, new standards of sustainable practices are increasingly being promoted [1]. Environmental knowledge refers to an individual's perception and understanding of environmental issues, including understanding the causes and consequences of environmental problems and knowing the solutions needed to resolve them [2]. In this context, the more people know about environmental issues, their causes, and possible solutions, the more they will be willing to buy sustainable food [3]. This study aimed to determine the level of knowledge about ecological issues in Portuguese citizens with higher education and to analyze the impact of the interest and level of knowledge of environmental issues on the attitude of conscious purchase of food. To achieve these objectives, a quantitative and cross-sectional study was carried out based on a non-probabilistic sample of 295 individuals, selected for convenience. To collect the data, a questionnaire adapted [4] was placed online and shared in the social media between September 2022 and the first half of January 2023. The questionnaire was structured in 2 sections. The first section included questions that allowed the socioeconomic characterization of the respondent, namely, nationality, district of residence, gender, age, marital status, net monthly income of the household, household size and financial comfort. The second section consisted of 17 statements about sustainable food purchasing attitudes and behaviors, for which the respondent used a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (completely disagree) to 7 (completely agree). Respondents were aged between 18 and 69 years old, recording an average of 32.29 years old (SD = 12.661). The majority lived in the North of Portugal, namely in Porto (24.9%), Bragança (23.5%) and Braga (10.9%) districts. In addition, the majority was female (72.7%), single (64.5%), lived in a household with up to 3 people (64.2%), with a monthly income of up to 1440 euros (54.3%). Despite the household income being relatively low, 63.1% of respondents consider living with some financial comfort. The results showed that respondents recorded a good level of knowledge of environmental issues (Mean = 5.21; SD = 1.436). Moreover, the value of Adjusted R2 shows that the interest and the level of environmental knowledge explain, in 64.2%, the conscious attitudes and behaviors with regard to the purchase of food. These results suggest that the participants of this study, that is, people with higher education adopt planning and organization practices in their food purchases, as well as adhere to and implement sustainable measures. Despite the encouraging results of the present study, in the future, Portuguese higher education institutions should adopt educational and awareness strategies aimed at improving students' knowledge of environmental issues, allowing the adoption of more sustainable behaviors.

publication date

  • November 1, 2023