What Really Works to Spur Greater Environmental Action
Environmental groups and local governments have struggled for decades to convince consumers to become “greener.” Although polls show almost 70 percent of Americans are active in or sympathetic with environmental causes, changing simple behavior such as buying energy-efficient light bulbs has proved difficult.
Traditional ways to change consumer habits, such as financial incentives or education, have had only moderate success. What seems to work the best? Believe it or not, it’s peer pressure.
Study after study have shown that promoting behaviors or actions as the norm encourages a greater number of others to follow suit. For example, a major hotel chain tried to encourage guests to reuse towels by placing signs stating “Show Your Respect to Nature” versus another saying “75% of Guests Now Reuse Towels.” The rooms asking to “Join Other Guests” had a 25 percent greater participation rate in towel reuse.
The success of peer pressure has no cultural or geographic boundaries as another study found that paying Chinese farmers to adopt more environmental friendly procedures didn’t work as well as just telling them that others are already farming that way.
Utility companies are now running ads with actual homeowners talking about the virtues of saving water and shutting off lights. Others include energy use charts in bills to show comparisons to neighbors’ electric bills, building on individual competitiveness (and guilt). All of this peer pressure has resulted in much greater green behavior.
It’s time environmental groups and local governments learn from these studies showing peer pressure and guilt are prime motivators to shift behaviors to green actions. Nobody wants to be the “only” lazy or insensitive one in a group – it’s time everyone joins together to change the world.
When you buy ecoSticks, it may seem like a small step to sustainability, based on our growth, we can only say, that others are already doing it!!