I need to create names for four categories of people - people who score either high or low on measures of environmental concern and pro-environmental behaviour. I have three sorted so far:

  • High environmental concern + high pro-environmental behaviour = pro-environmental individual
  • Low environmental concern + low pro-environmental behaviour = non pro-environmental individual
  • Low concern + high behaviour = honeybee (having unintended beneficial effects)

And I'm stuck on naming the fourth group:

  • High concern + low behaviour This group is very concerned about the future of the environment, and presumably would like to prevent global climate change, but isn't acting on these concerns.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated, either for the fourth group or alternatives for the first three :) Thanks so much!

  • 7
    Although totally colloquial and probably not appropriate, my favourite term is armchair activists. Apr 7, 2016 at 10:00
  • @JohnClifford ooh, love it! You're right, not appropriate for this, but has given me more food for thought. Thank you!
    – EKB
    Apr 7, 2016 at 10:13
  • 4
    Thank you for using "non pro" instead of "anti". A lot of people fail to realize that "against" and "not for" aren't the same thing.
    – anon
    Apr 7, 2016 at 13:27
  • 1
    Is this some kind of fuzzy logic?
    – NVZ
    Apr 7, 2016 at 15:09
  • I suggest you look at the way the Greeks divided human nature. They recognized theory, practice, and production as categories. This lets you make important distinctions ie., between farming and sustainable agriculture, that tend to get muddled in environmental discussions. It allows you to look at the ways ethical behavior and productive action overlap, or don't as the case may be. So you end up with 8 categories, but they are much easier to label and discuss thanks to a 2000 year history of looking at things in this way.
    – Phil Sweet
    Apr 7, 2016 at 16:32

10 Answers 10



Wikipedia defines it as:

... a portmanteau of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes "feel-good" measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little physical or practical effect, other than to make the person doing it feel satisfied that they have contributed.

This may not be exactly what you are looking for because "slactivists" still think they are helping the environment with their behavior.

However, there are campaigns where small gestures, like sharing a video or signing an online petition, are marketed towards those who don't have a lot of time or money to contribute and claim that such small efforts still have a significant effect. Therefore, "slacktivists" may consciously be making these low efforts thinking that it it is a substitute for being more active.


I'm not sure of the etiquette for answering your own question on this site - but I've settled on 'inactivist'. It's not, strictly speaking, proper English, but will do for my purposes.


I have settled on 'inactivist' because it merely categorises based on inaction, but also implies concern/an activist mindset. I'm not able to make assumptions as to the motivations of the people in this group, their self-perception (i.e. whether they think of themselves as activists), or their intentions. I think 'inactivist' works to convey my meaning without unnecessary (generally negative) connotations that accompany a lot of other similar words and phrases

  • 3
    We actually encourage answering your own question, keep it up! Apr 7, 2016 at 10:52
  • Welcome to ELU :-) Answering your own question is fine, you can find more about it here. For other information on using the site, you can have a look at the help center. Hope to see more of your questions here!
    – Lucky
    Apr 7, 2016 at 10:56
  • I wrote out half an answer that was going to propose inert, but this is just so much more incisive and, depending on the context, deliciously acerbic :) +1
    – 568ml
    Apr 7, 2016 at 11:16
  • 2
    It would probably be a good idea to explain why you settled on that neologism.
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 7, 2016 at 11:32
  • I have settled on 'inactivist' because it merely categorises based on inaction, but also implies concern/an activist mindset. I'm not able to make assumptions as to the motivations of the people in this group, their self-perception (i.e. whether they think of themselves as activists), or their intentions. I think 'inactivist' works to convey my meaning without unnecessary (generally negative) connotations that accompany a lot of other similar words and phrases.
    – EKB
    Apr 9, 2016 at 9:19


According to dictionary.com,


  1. possibility; potentiality: an investment that has little growth potential.

  2. a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed.


  1. someone or something that is considered a worthwhile possibility: The list of job applications has been narrowed to half a dozen potentials.

Definition 10 is especially fitting if the point is to encourage people into acting more like a pro-environmental individual.

Definition 6 is applicable in either case.

  • Thanks for the suggestion! The optimist in me would like to refer to both the 'inactivist' group and the 'non-PEI' group as 'potentials', but I'll mull it over. It certainly seems to fit well.
    – EKB
    Apr 9, 2016 at 9:38

You've already made up a word inactivist, apparently. But I have this to suggest:

Pseudo activist

You already know what an activist is. M-W defines pseudo as:

not real or genuine

being apparently rather than actually as stated : sham, spurious

"distinction between true and pseudo humanism" — K. F. Reinhardt

"The Problem With Pseudo-Activists Is They Don’t Change Anything" is an interesting article talking about pseudo-activists.

Pseudo-Activism is also a trend among millennials to indulge in feel-good clicktivism that doesn’t accomplish much in the real world but allows clicktivists to pat themselves on the back, feel good about “doing their part”, and go back to eating a sandwich while watching cat videos. It’s about as effective as giving a “like” on facebook to heal someone’s cancer.

What’s clicktivism? Here’s how Urban Dictionary defines it:

“The act or habit of using the internet as a primary means of influencing public opinion on matters of politics, religion or other social concerns. Methods may include websites, online petitions and mass email campaigns.”

Maybe it works for Presidential elections. But has that ever brought any good?

Another definition from Google Books. (Emphasis mine)

Pseudo activism is a type of group-think, social loafing, or free-riding, where people join organisations based around activism, but their intentions are based more around a kind of empathism, where it is more important to be part of a group that believes, than be a part of a group that does.

  • Thanks for the suggestion NVZ, but this suggests a lot about the group that I don't actually know. Primarily it suggests that they consider themselves activists, and that their inaction is due to laziness or 'clicktivism', when there are many other potential reasons they aren't acting as much as they would presumably like to.
    – EKB
    Apr 9, 2016 at 9:36

I'm liking "greenfan" as it slips into the text stream easily and has the "smack and tang of elemental things" that deserves the subject.

"Green" is the metaphor of the day for this and "fan" encompasses "rooting and cheering" (interest) where "activist" seems to beg for "doing".



According to Merriam-Webster:

a person who tries to become something : a person who aspires to do or to be something

An "aspiring activist" suggests someone who perhaps wishes to do more, but has not yet done so.


I’ll suggest green lips.  It combines the phrases green thumb and lip service, with a suggestion of [not] putting your money where your mouth is.


You might consider, armchair quarterback/general

armchair quarterback

noun a person who offers advice or an opinion on something in which they have no expertise or involvement.

Random House

Also, kibitzer

One who looks on and often offers unwanted advice or comment a kibitzer at a card game

Random House


Unless you do not want to be offensive, the right term might be


According to Cambridge dictionary, hypocrite means

someone who says they have ​particular ​moral ​beliefs but ​behaves in way that ​shows these are not ​sincere

  • Thanks @Bharg - This wouldn't work for my purposes as I do not want to be offensive or negative. It's an academic paper and bias wouldn't be welcome :) Also, in this case the beliefs and concerns held are very much sincere and real - they just don't align with behaviour (potentially because of psychological, practical or societal barriers). Thanks for the suggestion though!
    – EKB
    Apr 16, 2016 at 5:34

To address your first two categories… pro-environmental individual and non pro-environmental individual are both pretty awkward. I suggest activist and apathetic, respsectively.


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