Maximizing Sustainability by Incorporating Consumer Behavior & Environmental Expert Opinion

Download the full paper by Eileen McDaniel, Ph.D., "A Practical Framework for Green Policy Decision-Makers: Maximizing Sustainability by Incorporating Consumer Behavior and Environmental Expert Opinion" (PDF.)

Executive Summary
Which “green” activities are consumers performing in their everyday lives?   Activities that-
-       Save them money?
-       Are easy to do?
-       Are the most beneficial to the environment?
-       Some combination of the three?

By combining insights from a recent survey of consumer behavior with expert opinion on green activities I found that:
-       Activities that experts rank as the most beneficial for the environment are not always performed frequently by consumers.
-       Economic benefit to the consumer is a stronger predictor of frequently-performed activities than environmental benefit.
-       However, convenience to the consumer is the best predictor of green behavior!

Decision-makers for sustainability programs can tailor this method to their particular location by:
-       Compiling a list of green activities specific to their region.
-       Surveying local consumers and experts.
-       Altering which dimensions are included in assessing the importance of various green activities.

“Newcomer” communities can maximize the impact of launching their green programs by:
-       Prioritizing activities that are convenient and economical for the consumer.
-       Motivating consumers with educational programs and incentives.
-       Waiting until the environmental program has gotten off the ground before encouraging activities that are low in convenience and economic benefit- unless they can be financially subsidized.

Newcomer Communities
Newcomer Communities

“Veteran” communities can prioritize the activities using environmental benefit:
-       Activities that are most convenient can be financially penalized for non-compliance.
-       Less convenient activities can have incentives for performance.

Veteran Communities
Veteran Communities

Download the full paper by Eileen McDaniel, Ph.D., "A Practical Framework for Green Policy Decision-Makers: Maximizing Sustainability by Incorporating Consumer Behavior and Environmental Expert Opinion" (PDF.)

A newer article contains an interactive dashboard, allowing you to explore the topic in detail.

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