Student’s Corner

I’ve always wondered about the normalization of sustainable behavior – how can we get people who don’t care or think about the effect that their actions have on the rest of the world, to think more about the impact they have and change their ways?

As I discovered recently, this might be easier than I’d thought.

When marketing a product to consumers, it follows that they might wonder how they can make the consumer feel like they need this product. The answer? Make them feel lesser for not having it. Time and time again, marketing uses social norms against consumers to make them feel like everyone and their brother is using a product, thus they should too, or risk becoming a social pariah. So how does this apply to sustainability efforts?

Simple – we must make people feel like they’re the only ones not going green. People don’t want to look bad, or like they’re behind on the times. By making consumers feel this way, we create a system in which people will actively choose more sustainable options, in an effort to stay with the times.

New York Times Article and TedTalk on the topic.

Written by Teddi Shapiro, class of 2019