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Deciding to be green Laura Carlson, University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Lecture, October 18, 2011 Seton Hill University.

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Presentation on theme: "Deciding to be green Laura Carlson, University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Lecture, October 18, 2011 Seton Hill University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Deciding to be green Laura Carlson, University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Lecture, October 18, 2011 Seton Hill University

2 Be GREEN  Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail. If printing, consider the double-sided option.

3 The Psychology of Being Green  Why be green?  Shades of green  Why is it hard to be greener?  How we make decisions  Applying decision making to green behavior  Green initiatives at Notre Dame  “Deciding to be Green” Class Proposals

4 Why be green?

5  A vast majority (87%) of consumers agree that they are seriously concerned about the environment (Gfk Roper Consulting, Green Gauge Survey, 2007)  Nearly two-thirds (62%) of Americans believe the environment in the United States is getting worse. Just 11% think it is getting better. In 2005, 52% believed the environment was getting worse and 15% thought it was getting better. (Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Environment Survey, 2007)

6 Top 10 Environmental Concerns ( From Green to Gold, Esty & Winston, 2009) 1. Climate Change 2. Energy 3. Water 4. Biodiversity and land use 5. Chemicals, toxics and heavy metals 6. Air pollution 7. Waste management 8. Ozone layer depletion 9. Oceans and Fisheries 10. Deforestation

7 How green are you? Shades of green

8 Green Gauge Report (2007) Gfk Roper Consulting  True Blue Greens: Environmental leaders and activists.  Green Back Greens: Do not have time to be completely green and not likely to give up comfort and convenience for the environment, but willing to buy green products.  Sprouts: Environmental "fence sitters" who buy green only if it meets their needs  Grousers: Generally uninvolved and disinterested in green issues; believe individual behavior cannot improve environment.  Apathetics: Not concerned enough about the environment to take action; believe environmental indifference is the mainstream.

9 Green Gauge Report (2007) Gfk Roper Consulting

10 Why is it hard to become greener? Thought Traps ( Better World Handbook, Jones et al., 2007 )

11 It is not my responsibility Commons Dilemma It is industry that is responsible for air pollution Car emissions contribute to smog Whose car?

12 One person can’t make a difference that is large enough to matter  Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours -- or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.  We use over 80 billion aluminum soda cans every year.

13 How can I fix the oceans and fisheries? Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year The problems are overwhelming and I don’t know what to do

14 I am not a saint or an activist Large Impact Small Impact When Convenient ConsistentlySet up At Home Purchase only Recyclable Products Beginning a Recycling Program at Work Recyclying behavior

15 Let us assume: 1. You agree there are environmental problems 2. You want to help 3. You gather information 4. You know what you should do This is not enough!

16 It’s easy being green (Trask, 2006) “Many Americans agree with the goals of the environmental movement. Yet, nearly as many Americans admit to doing little more than recycling when it comes to acting on the disposition.”


18 Deciding to be green or greener Deciding

19 How we make decisions

20 Why are you here?

21  Decision to attend = Choice  Cost: Loss of time, energy  Benefit: Education, fulfill an obligation  Choice = assessment of cost/benefit ratio

22 Why are you sitting that way?

23  Is this the same type of decision?  Assessment of cost/benefit ratio?  Decision = reaction to the environment  Comfort of the chair  Direction of the speaker

24 2 decision making systems Kahneman & Tversky (1981)  Conscious  Take times and effort  Assess cost/benefit – computational  Automatic, largely unconscious  Fast & little effort  Involves mental short-cuts

25 Buying Soap Which do we use for Green behavior? Buy Dove Why? My mom did ConsciousAutomatic Buy Tom’s Why? Deciding to be green class

26 How many behaviors (choices) we make each hour of each day? It is a very large number…. We don’t want them all to be conscious We can’t have them all be conscious Thought Experiment

27 Why are you sitting in THAT chair? Some behaviors start out as conscious decisions but become automatic

28 Applying decision making to green behavior

29 What dimensions do people use for assessing cost/benefit? Conscious Decisions

30 “My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make them because they are cheap; you don’t make them because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.” – Theodore Hesburgh Former President of Notre Dame

31 Easy Cheap Popular Right Decision dimensions For each dimension you have a weight (-1 to 1)

32 Decision dimensions Green Behavior = (E * easy) + (C * cheap) + (P * popular) + (R * right) Your decision depends upon the weights you give to E for Easy C for Cheap P for Popular R for Right

33 Unplug your appliance when not in use

34 If you are Hesburgh E for easy = 0 C for cheap = 0 P for popular = 0 Right = +1.0 Unplug appliances = (0 * easy) + (0 * cheap) + (0 * popular) + (1.0 * right)

35 If you are the rest of us E for easy = -1 C for cheap = +1.0 P for popular = -1 R for right = +.5 Unplug = (-1 * easy) + (1.0 * cheap) + (-1 * popular) + (.5 * right) Overall, negative value

36 How do you change this? For Easy, make it more convenient? Maybe: - 1 -> -.7 For Cheap, maximally cheap – saves money, NO; +1 -> +1 For Popular, you CAN make it more popular; -1 -> +.5 For Right, you CAN raise awareness: +.5 -> +.8 Unplug = overall positive value

37 Purchase green products Easy – 0 (green washing) Cheap – NO (-1.0) Popular – increasingly (+.3) Right – (+.7) Overall 0; Make it more likely by making it easier (standardized green code) cheaper more popular

38 Some tools to help

39 Conscious decisions – change the decision Automatic decisions – change the environment to shape the decision

40 Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness (Thaler & Sunstein (2009) Choice architect: Organize the context in which people make decisions Automatic Decisions Cafeteria food display (carrots vs. french fries) 25% change in choice

41 Recycle bins larger than garbage cans Programmable thermostat Cold water hookup on washer Double-sided printing add-on …

42 Green initiatives at Notre Dame

43 Office of Sustainability

44 University of Notre Dame Geddes Hall - LEED Gold Certification Center for Social Concerns & Institute for Church Life

45 Motion sensor lighting Thermostat set-point LED Lighting Program Dorm Energy Competition College of Science vs. Main Building Energy Challenge Power

46 Single Stream Game Day Recycling Composting & Food Waste Sustainable Office Practices Workshops Recycling

47 Low Emission Vehicle Preferred Parking Video Conferencing Public Transportation (Free with ID) University Hybrids Transportation

48 First year orientation Dorm competitions Student outreach

49 Received Energy Patriot Award, 2008 - honors a student, professional, scholar or member of the business community who has demonstrated leadership and initiative in taking concrete action to improve America’s energy security. From 10 to 150 students and 800 subscriptions to email publication Game-day recycling - Fall, 2008 73 tons (146,000 pounds) of recycling collected over six games Lightbulb replacement (1400) GreeND Student Group

50 My Deciding to be Green Class Proposals

51  Apply decision making models to encouraging green behavior on campus  Use psychological research methods to create appropriate controls to assess effectiveness  Present to Office of Sustainability

52  Reusable cups at the stadium  Effect of feedback  Filtered water on fountains  Effect of prompts  Earn organic food points in eateries  Effect of relevant information  Evaluating t-shirt give-aways  Effect of incentives  Establishment of a green zone  Effect of expectations

53 Deciding to be green means deciding Conscious decisions are effortful but they can become automatic Automatic decisions can be influenced by context; they can be nudged Each behavior by each person counts Get informed Summary and conclusions

54 Some helpful books and tools Esty & Winston (2009). From Green to Gold. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. Jones, Haenfler, & Johnson (2007). The better world handbook. Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publications. Thaler & Sunstein (2009). Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness. London: Penguin Books Trask (2006). It’s easy being green. Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith Publishers. EarthDay Webpage : Better World Shopper: GoodGuide: GreeND Student group: Office of Sustainability at ND:

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