Persuading Consumers to Go Green

Researchers suggest that by shifting customers behaviors to be greener, businesses can save money while increasing their reputation.
Priyanko Guchait, associate professor, Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management

Shopping habits and escalating consumption of many consumers are inflicting a heavy environmental toll, and while the majority of customers seem hesitant to act “green” on their own, companies are increasingly expected to implement effective eco-friendly tactics. But efforts to increase towel reuse at hotels, paperless adoption in the banking industry or “ugly” food consumption at grocery stores have been challenging.

As a result, millions of tons of cosmetically imperfect produce are wasted every year in the United States while about one billion trees worth of paper are thrown away. Electricity consumption is impacted when those plain nonverbal stickers used in hotel bathrooms fail to significantly alter towel usage habits.

So, what’s missing in the messaging? Persuasive language that combines peer pressure with what the consumer, or broader world, can gain by lightening carbon footprints. Humanize the earth with a smiling face or give the visually unappealing potato a name, and the persuasive green impact is further amplified, according to a study led by the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

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