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A Matter of Time

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How do quality of life, income, available time, environmental impact, and purchasing choices interact? Researchers with the Institute on the Environment's NorthStar Initiative are hoping to find out. They're exploring how alternate work schedules could provide an opportunity to reduce workers' environmental footprint as well as strengthen their quality of life by having shortened workweeks.

The first phase of the project, known as "A Matter of Time," consisted of a literature review and a mapping exercise to show the complex relationship between time, income and the environmental effect of spending. The second phase of the project, to be carried out this spring, will consist of a survey of state agency workers from various parts of the country who have experienced furlough days or shortened workweeks. The survey will examine whether and how household spending choices and quality of life measures have changed under different time and income limitations.

A Matter of Time will provide information on the current role of time availability in household spending patterns. Results could help explain how environmental policies or programs that aim to completely change spending patterns can form an organized view of workplace and household spending, and also consider how time is used.

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