Monday, November 8, 2010

The Green Guilt Trip

We are all well aware that we have to recycle, use less energy, use cars that consume less gas per mile, etc.  Some people embrace the concept and make lots of life changes.  Others talk the talk but are resistant to the actual changes and sacrifices.  There is a new movement underway to get people to go green.  This technique has been supported by research.  Basically, people are embarrassed into the positive environmental changes.  For example in Washington D.C., shoppers have to ask for bags from a store.  No one gets a bag automatically, since there was a tax imposed on stores calculated by the number of bags distributed by a store.  The apparent humiliation of having to ask for a bag in front of fellow shoppers has drastically cut down on the amount of bags used.  Hotels are starting to get in on the act by telling guests the percentage of people who agreed to reuse towels.  This subtle pressure of knowing what your fellow hotel guests did and the hotel is putting you in the tally made more guests reuse towels.  A note of caution for those wanting to experiment with the embarrassment technique, it is only useful for behaviors that require small changes.

Remember in grade school when another child would try to convince his friend to do something by saying, "everybody is doing it."  Apparently, this line of reasoning still works in our adult years.  I know improving our green behavior is a worthwhile goal.  I am one of those people who do not respond to the everybody rule.  Weekly, I am subjected to the embarrassment technique by Whole Foods when I am asked whether I want to donate my bag allowance (10 cents per bag) to their selected charity.  I politely decline in front of everyone with a smile.  I give charity (10 % of my post tax income actually), but I just like to choose my charity.  Making changes requires a personal commitment, whether it is going green, being healthy. giving charity, etc.  I prefer to make a personal choice and then the choice sticks.  Social pressure may make a temporary change, but what happens when no one is around?  Make a change for yourself and experience true freedom not the guilt.

Stay healthy & well,

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