Ways to shift consumers towards sustainablebehavior
Humans are social animals and will follow theactions of others, especially on ethical issues. Whenpeople learn they are using more energy than theirneighbours, they decrease their energy usage. Butwhat if the sustainable behavior has yet to beestablished? For example, how does one convince people to install solar panels if no one intheir neighbourhood is doing it? A "brand ambassador" can be invaluable. Solar advocateswho had installed solar panels in their own homes were able to recruit 63 per cent moreresidents to purchase and install solar panels.
For ethical behaviors, learning about the behaviors of others can be motivating. In oneexample, when business students on a college campus heard that computer science studentswere better at composting and recycling, they more than doubled their efforts.
To build a new sustainable habit, one must first break bad habits. This is easiest when someoneis experiencing big life changes, such as moving, getting married or starting a new job. In onestudy, people who had recently moved cut their car usage almost in half.
To build new habits, it can be helpful to make the sustainable action easy to do, provide timelyprompts, offer incentives to help get the new behavior started.
Sustainability can appear more attractive when the personal benefits such as health or productquality are highlighted. Emphasizing self-efficacy also works. When people know their actionsmatter, they make greener choices.
Self-consistency is also important. People like their words and actions to be consistent. Oftenone environmental commitment can snowball into other actions and changes over time. Forexample, someone who insulates their house to improve energy efficiency may be more likelyto unplug electric devices when they leave for a vacation.
Likewise, consumers expect companies to be consistent. In one study, when a hotel madevisible environmental efforts (such as offering compostable toiletries) and asked guests to saveenergy, guests reduced their energy usage by 12 per cent. In the absence of visible efforts, the appeal appeared hypocritical and energy use increased.