Pro-Environment Behaviors

There are so many daily activities and actions that people do that affect our environment. Let’s face it, not many people think about how their actions are really affecting the environment. Taking a longer shower, driving a car, watching tv with all the lights on, letting the water run, these are just a few simple examples. Out of all the examples I just listed I’m sure that people reading this are thinking wow I do at least 2 of those daily. When I was younger I didn’t even think about half of those things I was doing that actually were slowly affecting the environment. I used to leave so many things plugged in, so many lights on, left the tv on, left the water running while brushing my teeth and I didn’t even think about it at all. I believe that the first step in changing these behaviors starts with education.

Growing up I was never taught about all these different things slowly affecting the environment. It was until my junior year in high school that we lightly touched on this topic. In order to avoid these behaviors it will start with teaching people how these behaviors are gradually affecting our environment and what can happen in the future if nothing changes. Teaching kids about this at a younger age such as middle school might even help avoid some of these behaviors to begin with. “The value of educational campaigns lies in their priming ability; that is, they get people ready to make a change rather than actually get them to change. (Gruman, 362). It starts with educating people but actually getting them to make the changes is the tough part. People are most likely willing to make changes if they know that it will improve their everyday life. Saving money is a good incentive to get people to make the changes. I know I was very ignorant to the fact that these little behaviors and actions were affecting the environment. I also thought to myself this little action isn’t going to change much but as I’m growing up I’m realizing that I was wrong.

There are so many different ways we can start to improve on these behaviors. There can be incentives, reward programs, monthly newsletters, advertisements. A big start to all of this can be advertisements. I don’t see a lot of commercials, ads, or billboards about pro environmental behaviors. These ads can list ways to help the environment and encourage others. Another way to improve is companies sending our monthly newsletters through email or mail about how their customers are participating in pro environment behaviors. There can be reward programs with water companies, electric companies, gas companies, fuel companies, and trash/recycle companies. The reward programs can inform customers on how they are doing towards their goals and build rewards to save money in the future. A huge impactful environmental behavior that I wanted to touch on is transportation. In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic started which affected many businesses. A lot of companies are letting their employees work from home which is affecting transportation for the good! I believe that a huge step in helping our environment can start with these big companies. A lot of companies are realizing that their employees are doing very well working at home. If people can work from home I think this is the perfect opportunity for companies to start permanent work from home positions. Working from home saves a lot of people transportation which saves gas which helps the environment. This solution also benefits a lot of people because they probably prefer to work from home.

There are so many different things that people can do to help the environment but it starts with informing them and getting them to make the changes.

Gruman, Jamie A., et al. Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. 3rd ed., SAGE, 2017.


1 comment

  1. Leaving the water running, keeping the lights on in a room not occupied, or leaving the TV on while you’re sleeping are examples of resource dilemmas. The difficulty in creating a social norm to stop this behavior is the conundrum of psychological conscious conditioning. The change of this behavior is rarely automatic. I just finished this bottle of soda and unconsciously threw it in the trash which is now full, before I take out the trash I’m going to leave the water running which takes a little while to warm up to prepare some pasta for dinner. By the time I I tie up the trash and throw it in the bin on the front porch and walk back, the water should be warm enough to soak the pasta. I’m 18 years old and I just remembered this documentary I watched a few days ago on energy conservation and we’re learning about the environment in my social studies class. I feel guilty. I wasted a lot more water by letting it run while taking out the trash, versus waiting for the water to warm up above the faucet. I think I’m going to walk to the trash and grab that plastic bottle and throw it in the recycling bin that remains empty. How does behavior become automatic? Leave the room, turn the lights off, no conscious thought……

    In my opinion, this goes beyond creating social norms, what Gruman, Schneider, and Coutts define as being the catalyst for change in behavior for an individual and society. Was the individual that unconsciously turned the lights off, informed about energy conservation as a child and the action became conditioned? Was there some sort of desire to control the personal space of the individual? Pleasure and comfort associated with control becoming conditioned? Just turned the lights off and wasn’t thinking about it…….

    Pertaining to the environment the “commons argument” comes into play not just in regard to being selfish about one’s personnel gains (ex. My hands are covered in dog pooh and I’m going to thoroughly wash them with a high powered hose, as opposed to quickly washing them with a low flow nozzle to participate in conservation), but also individual autonomy of not having to think about the consequences of conservation and the environment and being consciously conditioned. Resources like water don’t seem limited, and you can argue that they’re not. I remember taking an Environmental Science class last quarter and being puzzled by how it rains on the earth, along with other processes that we take for granted. Through the limited availability of natural fresh water sources it always rains on earth. Scientists are working on filtering techniques of capturing rainwater and making it immediately drinkable (loaded with airborne bacteria). There are poor people all over the world that struggle to find drinking water that can be created and supplied through this method, or a synthetically created through a formula. I turn on the faucet here in America and water always runs. This seems infinite and nothing is going to stop it….. inclining me to unconsciously use water as I need, creating a shared social norm in the privilege of water availability.


    Gruman, Coutts, Schneider et al. Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems.

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