Why do consumers participate in 'green' programs?


From recycling to reusing hotel towels, consumers who participate in a company’s “green” program are more satisfied with its service, finds a new study co-led by a Michigan State University researcher.

Doing good makes customers feel good, and that “warm glow” shapes opinion, said Tomas Hult, Byington Endowed Chair and professor of marketing in the Eli Broad College of Business. But it gets more complicated when companies throw incentives into the mix.

“Companies are increasingly adopting sustainability initiatives and ultimately these ‘green’ programs are intended to be good for the environment and also increase customers’ satisfaction,” said Hult, who is director of MSU’s International Business Center. “Our research helps strike the right balance between incentivizing customers to participate in green programs and focusing on the bottom-line performance of the company.”

Hult and researchers from Cornell University and Florida State University conducted four studies in three service settings: restaurants, hotels and online retailing. They found the types of rewards offered by companies to participate in sustainability programs could affect satisfaction.

The researchers tested two types of incentives: those that benefit solely the consumer (i.e. loyalty points) and those that benefit another organization (i.e. charitable donations).

For green program participants, rewards that benefit another organization created the highest rate of satisfaction about the business.

And for those who chose not to participate in a green program, self-benefiting rewards cast doubt about the motive of a program. That scenario offers nonparticipants an opportunity to rationalize their decision to not participate, and lack of guilt translates into feelings of satisfaction about the business, Hult said.

People will interpret incentives in whatever way best suits their egos, he said. So for both groups to be happiest, a company should allow customers to choose between a reward that benefits themselves or another organization.

Many managers, particularly in the hospitality industry, are reluctant to introduce sustainability initiatives that might negatively influence the guest experience, Hult said. But this research, one of the first of its kind, provides managers with guidance on how to best design such programs as well as best practices for “green marketing.”


In addition to Hult, the research team comprised Michael Giebelhausen and HaeEun Helen Chun, both assistant professors of marketing at Cornell University, and Joseph Cronin, John R. Kerr Eminent Scholar Chair in Marketing and Service Innovation at Florida State University.

The study is published in the July edition of the Journal of Marketing.

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July 23, 2016 8:36 am

I believe it’s called “virtue signalling.” People present themselves as “green” primarily to show off or because they’ve been trained to do so.

Reply to  PaulH
July 23, 2016 8:51 am

Or to avoid being stigmatized or berated by rabid envirokooks.

Reply to  PiperPaul
July 23, 2016 2:04 pm

Since I am old enough to remember the scrap collection drives during WWII, what recycling I do is probably a habit from long ago. But we didn’t have recyclable plastics back then — at least not that I can recall.

Reply to  PiperPaul
July 23, 2016 2:52 pm

There’s a reason you get paid for scrap metal, but recycled plastic is barely worth anything. Metal is almost always worthwhile to recycle, and it’s 100% as good as fresh. Plastic degrades chemically, and since you no longer have uniform properties, it is unsuited for any specialty application.

Reply to  PiperPaul
July 23, 2016 4:40 pm

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.
Benjamin: Exactly how do you mean?

Reply to  PiperPaul
July 23, 2016 11:00 pm

Sorry, I’m missing the satire here.

Reply to  PaulH
July 23, 2016 9:28 am

That’s why the smug drivers of the Prius would like the name changed to “Pious.” Of all my liberal friends in “The People’s Republic of Ann Arbor” who claim to be so “green” and virtuous, not a single one has done a single thing of importance to save the planet. But oh lordy do they feel superior. Hypocritical snobs all.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Allencic
July 23, 2016 10:32 am

After the things growing on their heads

Dan Hue
Reply to  Allencic
July 23, 2016 11:18 am

That is some way to refer to your “friends”, calling them snobs.

Reply to  Allencic
July 23, 2016 12:25 pm

Dan Hue: I do not hold the same values as some of my closest friends. (not “friends”). The fact that we can be good friends says something about us and perhaps some of our core values. We do have areas we don’t discuss. I have several friends who I would apply the “snob” level to for various reasons and we have even debated our “hypocritical” actions both calmly and not so calmly. Yet, we are still friends who would cross a burning river to help each other. I have friends on the far left and far right; eco-n@zis and people I tell to pick up their litter (though that latter may cover BOTH groups – hence the hypocrite label).
True friends don’t need to be homogenized.
Personally, “eco” advertising sets off alarm bells in my brain as I know it is a marketing ploy so it actually makes me distrust the product but then I am a tad on the contrary side. Often the claims are spurious though I do in fact buy certain “green” products like 7th Generation laundry soap.
The Internet has lots of examples of “marketing”: http://www.scambusters.org/greenscam.html
Nevertheless, reuse, recycle, reduce is part of my own lifestyle along with most people I know. It has become part of our culture. Big Green is just using our values to market their products but in reality there is likely little difference with a few exceptions. However the law of unintended consequences often trips them up. “The Body Shop” comes to mind. Lots of missteps. Organic soaps wrapped in plastic, then a different kind of plastic, and then paper but one wrapping may not be any better than the other except for marketing. The paper creates way more land fill waste, but I use it as fire starter so it goes up the chimney. (I store my paper and cardboard and burn it with wood for heat in the winter in a high efficiency fireplace.) Mountain Equipment Coop is another – green values, no bags provided so you bring your own or buy one of their reuseable bags – made from polypropylene. They have a very “green” image, but I would guess most of their products are completely dependent on a fossil fuel economy. Love the irony, but I still buy hiking gear there all the while chuckling at the unstated irony.

Reply to  Allencic
July 23, 2016 1:04 pm

Diversity is important, or so I hear. Everyone should have some snobbish friends to remind themselves how not to be. 🙂
Just don’t get too close with the drug dealers, muggers, and CAGW alarmists.

Reply to  Allencic
July 23, 2016 4:45 pm

I have no problem with things that make an actual, practical, qualitative difference to the environment–cleaning up landfills and polluted effluent, producing less waste, energy efficiency, habitat preservation.
Those are unarguable benefits to the quality of life of us all. But the CAGW crowd is demanding draconian changes under false pretenses, and that’s where their “movement” crosses the line and, in so doing, endangers the credibility of ALL environmental initiatives. That’s what gets me so peeved about all this!

Reply to  Allencic
July 23, 2016 7:10 pm

I use to think that about prius drivers until I noticed that the vast majority of taxi drivers are
using them. And since I imagine that most of them would do so if it was saving them money
it has changed my opinion of hybrids. Now the irony is that as with many things you have to
be sufficiently rich to be able to afford to save money.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Allencic
July 23, 2016 7:12 pm

South Park did an episode based on the “Pious” joke in March 2006.

Reply to  Allencic
July 23, 2016 11:46 pm

“vast majority of taxi drivers are using” [electric cars]
Couldn’t have anything to do with the large subsidies, could it? Or the marketing factors discussed in this article rather than other economic concerns?

Reply to  Allencic
July 24, 2016 9:24 am

Cab drivers often work for a cab company, so it could be a Green-standing company policy and not an actual individual preference.
Like E-surance bragging about it’s fleet of all-hybrid vehicles in their TV spots.

Gentle Tramp
Reply to  PaulH
July 23, 2016 3:37 pm

How ironic that reducing the fossil CO2 output is not a “virtue” at all – quite on the contrary !!!
The so-called “carbon-pollution” is in reality a very valuable “carbon-enrichment” for agriculture and the whole biosphere of planet Earth, which is still undernourished of atmospheric CO2, as Patrick Moore demonstrated in this paper not long ago:
So lets tell all people the truth about their allegedly “sinful” fossil carbon emissions:
Well, I admit, such a appeal may sound somewhat funny today because of the current zeitgeist, but maybe if the next glacial period would start sooner than we hope, people might understand at last, how bad a lack of CO2 will be for agriculture and food production…

July 23, 2016 8:38 am

..” The Greens are too yellow to admit that they are actually Red !! ” …Lord Monckton….

Doug Huffman
July 23, 2016 8:41 am

Bedbug prevalence is correlated with minimizing hotel laundry, dwindling economy, Third World staff and guests. Repeated fractional reduction and serial dilution is effective.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 23, 2016 12:02 pm

Ugh, bedbugs…I brought home a case of bedbugs from Venezuela earlier this year… It took 2 weeks of intense fumigation to get rid of the little bastards… The Missus was not amused. The paranoia level is still high where they are concerned.

Doug Huffman
Reply to  SMC
July 24, 2016 4:33 pm

Look into, study the use of the various permethrins. There is even a commercial line of clothing with permanent permethrin incorporated – good through 100 laundries. If it’s safe for clothing, it MAY be safe for bedding.

Reply to  Doug Huffman
July 24, 2016 9:44 am

And head lice, ants, roaches… A lot of insect pests take advantage of our carelessly reused stuff.
As an aside, leaving your bed unmade in the morning makes it a less attractive environment for bedbugs. Which would you rather live on and travel through: a smooth plain of sheets or a mountain range of piled blankets?

Doug Huffman
Reply to  drednicolson
July 24, 2016 4:28 pm

Izzat bedbug teleology?

Pop Piasa
July 23, 2016 8:46 am

Seems to me we should all be conserving whatever resources we have that are limited in nature. Water particularly, as well as the obvious fossil fuels. Even CO2 should be considered a resource rather than a pollutant, based on the latest findings in Botany.
Reuse/recycle was taught to me by parents who got through the great depression by doing so, even as the media was glorifying disposable everything to help increase commerce. In my late teens, I helped support my church youth program by picking up discarded aluminum and glass to recycle.
That set of values still drives me at 60.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 23, 2016 8:57 am

Dear Pop have a look at this video excerpt. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hu_R3gp84TY
CO2 as a greening agent has been known to mankind over many years.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  oebele bruinsma
July 23, 2016 9:15 am

Thanks much. It’s a shame to dump things into the ground or oceans that could be burned cleanly and boost the plant world.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 23, 2016 10:51 am

‘limited in nature. Water particularly’
Sir, 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. It’s called “The Blue Planet.”

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Gamecock
July 24, 2016 6:00 pm

Still, “water, water everywhere! But, not a drop to drink!” sounds familiar to some folks. What is rare at the moment depends on the circumstances and the economy.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 23, 2016 2:22 pm

All that recycling makes little difference. None of the materials are scarce and are inert in landfill. It is just another of the greenie control mechanisms.

Reply to  Gerard
July 23, 2016 4:29 pm

In fact, recycling is probably increasing the proportion of “nasties” in landfill, by removing all that inert material. Recycling of non metals is also economically and environmentally damaging. Some of the processes used are far more energy intensive than processing the virgin material.

July 23, 2016 8:53 am

I don’t think there are very many people out there that choose restaurants, hotels or other venues based on the ‘sustainability program’. this ‘study’ sounds like a bunch of horse feathers to me.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  SMC
July 23, 2016 9:15 am

Could also be duck soup.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
July 23, 2016 11:51 am

Duck soup is tasty…Horse feathers, not so much. 🙂

Monna Manhas
Reply to  SMC
July 23, 2016 9:28 am

In my experience, in most hotels the staff change the towels daily even if you DON’T chuck them in the bathtub (leaving towels in the bathtub is the signal to change the towels.)

Reply to  Monna Manhas
July 23, 2016 10:02 am

..That is the hygienically correct thing to do… !

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Monna Manhas
July 23, 2016 11:21 am

I prefer to put the towels in my suitcase.

Reply to  Monna Manhas
July 23, 2016 12:02 pm

Fear of lawsuits, I would guess.

Reply to  Monna Manhas
July 23, 2016 12:35 pm

That’s been my experience, too.

Reply to  Monna Manhas
July 23, 2016 12:42 pm

Tom in Florida July 23, 2016 at 11:21 am

I prefer to put the towels in my suitcase.

I believe that’s the definitive signal to replace the towels, Tom. Just putting them in the tub may be too subtle.

July 23, 2016 9:07 am

… That scenario offers nonparticipants an opportunity to rationalize their decision to not participate, …

The connotation of ‘rationalize’ is that one is making up excuses. Clearly the researchers don’t think it’s possible to make a logical, informed decision that a supposedly green program may be bogus. They probably can’t even see their own bias. I wonder if they even know about greenwashing.

Reply to  commieBob
July 23, 2016 3:53 pm

Every now and then when I stayed in a hotel, I accepted the greenwash premise and set the towels up indicating that they did not need to be replaced.
Invariably, they were replaced.
It appeared that the staff was either not familiar with the program or that so few people used it that the staff didn’t bother not changing the towels. I no longer even bother, The towels go in the tub.

Reply to  Taphonomic
July 24, 2016 4:06 am

Maybe the housekeeping staff couldn’t read the green placard.

G. Karst
July 23, 2016 9:08 am

The “warm and fuzzy” feelings is the most powerful force on Earth. It will be responsible for our own destruction, due to its ease of manipulation and propaganda value. GK

Reply to  G. Karst
July 23, 2016 4:51 pm

What we’re looking at is virtue-seeking in a post-religious, secular world. “Health” and “The Environment” are the new Angry Gods, who must be appeased at all costs. “Eating right,” “healthy lifestyle,” and “going green” are all ingredients in this new, secular religion. Around here, if you drive your Prius to your big, sweaty, debilitating “workout” chased with an anorexic “green smoothie,” your Righteous Progressive cred is good for the day with or without solar panels. Only trouble is, that lifestyle you’ll find is “unsustainable” when you get a little older. Still, these one-upping earnest yuppies are good for laughs! 😉

July 23, 2016 9:12 am

All I know is Greenies are up themselves and two faced hypocrital seemers not doers. They’ll happily Twitter away to satisfy their egos yet stage NIMBY protests if there’s a mobile phone tower going up near their place. Same with taking their electricity for granted and moaning about the dangers of transmission lines and electromagnetic radiation. They’re right in one sense about the dangers of electricity transmission lines. It’s in the deadly irony of poor people wanting them passing their homes-
I’ve got a Green rewards program in mind. You whinge about phone towers and transmission lines we set you free and cut you off. Win win.

Joe Public
July 23, 2016 9:16 am

Perhaps customers using natural common sense is misunderstood by the surveyors as a ‘green’ action, & subsequently used by the latter to justify their existence.

Mike Smith
July 23, 2016 9:17 am

The greenies I know are mainly seeking forgiveness for the [imaginary] guilty deeds they have been told they have committed in the past.
It’s all very similar to guilt I am supposed to feel over the behavior of the slave owners with whom I have not the slightest connection.

July 23, 2016 9:31 am

the marketers make money selling marketing so they are always touting this or that.
when it comes to spending my money, if i see a company that’s spending their profits on things that don’t improve the business – frivolous virtue signalling for example – i make an effort to find an alternative where the profits (obviously excessive, since the profits pay for such frivolity) are used to improve the product or reward the producer of the product.
i buy a product – not a philosophy.
if the operator of a ‘business’ tries to make it into a church, i’ll look for a real business.
the marketers are just another church.
product price and product quality are all i care about.
not dead babies in aftrica; not green stamps, not tribal identity.
good product and good price are the only things that matter.
if a business displays some belief that things are otherwise, they lost the focus and darwin’s business award is on the way.

July 23, 2016 9:33 am

Sustainability is not an exclusive characteristic of the green movement. Nobody and no organization regards waste as desirable.

July 23, 2016 9:34 am

In my case I do it for the green, as in MONEY. I can keep my house warm in winter and cool in summer with half the cost that is money in my pocket. Same with water for the toilets. As long as the excrement is gone I’m happy. If I can achieve that and save money I’m happier. You’ve got to shop for bargains and take advantage of “green refunds” from governments because they are giving you some of your own money back which is a lot better than what they usually do with it. Stuff like insulation, water efficient toilets, etc pay off pretty quick but windows take forever so unless you need to replace them hold off.
A penny saved is not a penny earned. Depending on what your tax bracket is a penny saved could be 1.25 to 1.5 pennies earned TAX FREE. The gov will tax you when you make it and spend it but if you just spend less and get the same benefit then you win. You have more disposable income to do with what you want not what the gov decides for you.

Reply to  TRM
July 23, 2016 2:47 pm

Double plus shedloads.
I’ve moved into three houses, now. Some Brits don’t move much, like me.
Each time, first thing, I’ve added another layer of insulation to the immersion heater, normally by the Saturday lunch-time.
Lofts, too – we’re over 51 N, here, so a good saving in those 11.6 months that are officially ‘not summer’ here in London.
Windows – yes, when needed.
Water, still, can be a flat rate, although metering is spreading. So – the brick stays out of the cistern, for now.
And if I lived on a flood plain [Why do Planning Committees wilfully misunderstand those two words? What part of FLOOD Plain is too difficult for them?] I’d get Flood-Kit in, and get tooled up.
And here, if I may paraphrase: –
Depending on what your tax bracket is a pound saved could be 1.25 to 1.75 pounds earned TAX FREE.
Auto – halfway up a hill

July 23, 2016 9:36 am

Speaking of which how about an update from Mr Watts about his solar electric adventure? In my area the sun isn’t hot enough, long enough to pay back in my lifetime but I’m still curious how his experiment is going. Being a bit of a geek I’m sure he has a spreadsheet with all the data 🙂

Reply to  TRM
July 23, 2016 2:56 pm

It is not where Sir Watts lives. Aside from having lived in near his area, I know because no where on the planet earth is solar more economical or green than coal.
First the environmental impact of coal has been greatly exaggerated. I love when California school children talk about ‘dirty’ coal plants. Something they have never seen. I saw down town growing up. It has been closed for 40 years.
Second solar does not work, at least when you need it. Unless PV is a hobby, Watts got scammed.
PV on the roof is a waste of natural resources and good way to set fire to your house.
Easy living in California makes otherwise intelligent people stupid.

July 23, 2016 9:39 am

Sustainability is not an exclusive characteristic of the green movement. Nobody and no organization condones waste.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  brycenuc
July 23, 2016 10:59 am

Shame that the present administration has wasted so much of our money and third world lives because of the green movement distracting and distorting ecological policy.

David Becker
July 23, 2016 9:41 am

Some of these programs also drive scientific illiteracy. Restaurants and food producers that boast using non-GMO products, or even “organic” products are luddites who fail to understand that there is no advantage to eating such products, and they cost a lot more than plain old food. Any individual or organization that is worried about its CO2 footprint is betraying sound science for profit (no surprise there.) And I have just heard Panera’s bragging about its new “clean food” program. Was all that stuff I ate in their restaurants in the past dirty, I wonder? Sadly, extremism and ignorance in the environmental movement has made dummies of many of us.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  David Becker
July 23, 2016 11:02 am

Panera serves the smallest portion for the price in the area where I live. Dukes Bakery makes better pastries.

Reply to  David Becker
July 23, 2016 11:11 am

But they’re often angry, righteous dummies looking for someone to lecture or punish. Useful idiots.

Reply to  David Becker
July 23, 2016 4:54 pm

You know, if the “hipsters” in Brooklyn all moved away and got real jobs, this “movement” would be dead within 6 months.

Reply to  David Becker
July 24, 2016 4:53 am

David, beg to differ on organic costing more
theres good organic weed killers available
they cost around $11 Au a litre so thats close or maybe cheaper than roundup..with ALL the benefits of NOT killing my soil organisms or worms or the remnant chem absorbing into my crops.
because the synergists are NOT listed and can be any of many chem.
derris dust or some copper sulphate if things get serious bug n fungals wise
and /or let the chooks go in the paddock 😉
so are my crops going to cost me more to produce?
no, quite a bit less!
even rockdust is cheaper than chemical waste sold as fertiliser and needs applying only 3 yearly at most.
if some idiot wants to pay 2 or 3x the standard for my time and care to produce..then by american enterprise so oft stated.. I should charge accordingly??
my free roaming hens eggs could sell for $12 a dozen..which is insane but people happily pay that.
now if I was also stupid enough to join the Organic mob in aus for a pile of grief paperwork and crap dumped on me to get a sticker approving me..at a not insignificant cost and privacy invasion…then yeah I would be upping prices to cover their greentard charges TO me.
as it is
i am UNcertified BUT fully Organic and will stay that way thanks:-)

July 23, 2016 10:00 am

forced by law in many cases.

July 23, 2016 10:01 am

So a “green program” is a “sustainability program”? I don’t even know what these terms mean anymore. But I’ve practiced efficiency for well over 40 years for both my own economic benefit and for maintaining and improving the capital worth of already existing things like structures, tools, and even a proud, and proudly CO2-generating 1990 GMC Suburban at 15 mpg, with a new engine after 300,000 miles on the old one,which still ran very well but was somehow guzzling too much oil to efficiently keep up with. [Given also that you’d like to drive an indestructible bath tub.]
My “ego” also translates my thinking into an Ethical motive for me in that it respects and revers the efforts of past individuals who have made America what it is today – starting with the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution itself! I love that kind of thing. It makes me feel good. I want to be like them!
On the other hand I’m also quite happy with myself for not supporting any “green” or “sustainable” program which smells like PC or just another “subsidize me” scam, or contributes to the desires of would-be Totalitarians and their Perfect Totalitarian Fodder “Progressives”. I’m pretty sure I’ve done more to help the Idealistic goals implied by such “programs” than the efforts of any 10,000 “green-sustainable” Econuts put together into their very special kind of giant Beetle Nut. But I want to sustain myself, family, etc., and immediate environment first. If you can’t do that, forget about “saving” anybody or anything else! That just never turns out well.

July 23, 2016 10:10 am

It’s lip-service: I spend about 150 nights in hotels each year (yes really!) and nearly all of then have these green programmes about water etc telling you what to do if you are happy to use the same towel etc. I often do as it says but they have never, NEVER left the used towels, they always take them and replace them.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Span Ows
July 23, 2016 11:11 am

Yes, the help likes to be tipped. Sometimes they even do towel art figures to get tips on a multi-night stay.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 23, 2016 11:54 am

Oooo… Towel art figures… That is always the high point of my stay in a hotel:)) (I spend 150+ nights a year in hotels also)

Reply to  Pop Piasa
July 23, 2016 2:52 pm

I used to travel – mostly on ships, but probably 25 – 30 nights in hotels a year – some were like arrive at 0300, leave at 0730, and hope the ship will do breakfast.
Life is a little less frantic now, happily.
Some are quite good.
Last week – on holiday – the used (once) towels were hung up straight, but not taken away, for example.
The ‘Windermere Hotel’ in the town from which it took its name

July 23, 2016 10:11 am

Time to market fossil fuels as just “recycling” dead dinosaurs and plants. Who could argue with that?

Reply to  ShrNfr
July 23, 2016 12:19 pm

ShrNfr July 23, 2016 at 10:11 am

Time to market fossil fuels as just “recycling” dead dinosaurs and plants. Who could argue with that?

I have no idea why, long ago, the gasoline sellers didn’t put green food coloring in their gasoline and call it Green Gasoline. They could have charged 10-15 cents more per gallon. My neighbor would have bought it.

Reply to  H.R.
July 23, 2016 2:31 pm

Damn, you should patent that idea, just for laughs if nothing else. 😀

July 23, 2016 10:16 am

If I am considering buying anything and the item is tied to some cause (‘save’ this, that, or the other critter; ‘fight’ hunger, poverty, psoriasis), I do not purchase the item unless it’s clearance priced.
I had a conversation with a neighbor who told me that he made it a point to buy products that are ‘green.’ Green generally means nothing regarding product. I believe ‘sustainable’ is also implied when marketers use ‘green’ on a label. He felt good about himself. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that marketers know that ‘green’ is the buzzword these days so ‘green’ will sell to the gullible and there is usually nothing changed or changed for the better in green products besides the label.
P.S. I know all the places in stores where clearance-priced goods are located and I do admit to the pride of being a scavenger. I also know when the ‘clearance price’ of 50% of is actually the normal price the retailers wanted in the first place and have the good sense to wait until there’s an additional 50-70% off the clearance price before buying. I guess I’m concerned about ‘green’ ($$$$$$$$$) after all.

Wim Röst
July 23, 2016 10:19 am

CO2 = The New Green

Bill Illis
July 23, 2016 10:24 am

This should apply to Renewable Energy.
If you want more renewables and it makes you feel good, then you should pay “extra” to enjoy your feelings about more expensive and less reliable renewable energy.
Most of the original wind power programs were based on people paying 15% more than the average to support the program. They were actually quite popular and were over-subscribed in many cases. Corporate buyers and ordinary consumers participated in these programs.
Let’s go back to that and hand out “green energy purchaser” bumper stickers and lawn signs and let those that want it determine how much green energy there is. It is supposed to have such great support among the populace that it should work very well. 15% – 25% premium is all it would take.
Much. much more efficient market solution compared to Carbon taxes.

Reply to  Bill Illis
July 23, 2016 10:40 am

An electric utility once did a survey to see how many would pay more for “green” energy. Lo and behold over 15% of the customers surveyed said they would participate. So the utility dutifully initiated a green program and found out when it came to actually paying more for the power, only 0.5% signed up. Some customers actually asked how much they would save by signing up.
I came to two conclusions from this:
1) People will tell pollsters what they think people should say (the Wilder Effect)
2) As long as it doesn’t cost anything (recycling, reusing towels in a hotel, etc.) many are willing to do it. But the ranks are thinned considerably when it comes with parting with one’s own long green.

Reply to  oeman50
July 23, 2016 3:07 pm

It is old research but green power programs target those with post grad degrees in art history.

Reply to  Bill Illis
July 23, 2016 11:14 am

you should pay “extra” to enjoy your feelings
I suspect that forcing others to pay is a good chunk of the appeal for many “environmentalists”. There is not a small amount of disguised authoritarianism and glee of compelling those unlike oneself to submit.

Reply to  Bill Illis
July 23, 2016 1:16 pm

Canadian Energy Law
An overview of Cap-and-trade. Cap-and trade between Ontario, Quebec and California is scheduled to begin January 2017.
A series of articles beginning June 3, 2016 and other articles dating back several years.
In the first article scroll down to: Transportation sector
“The proposals intend to alter the fundamental structure of the Ontario economy …”
Intention of California to alter the fundamental structure of their economy as well?

Reply to  Barbara
July 23, 2016 2:35 pm

It may fundamentally alter the employment status of some politicians.
ie They will be tossed out of office onto their fundaments.

Robert of Ottawa
July 23, 2016 10:37 am

I shun anything green, eco, enviro or organic.

Curious George
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
July 23, 2016 11:28 am

The Polish Solidarity movement stole one of Communists best buzzwords.

July 23, 2016 10:43 am

Green oil. I feel better already

July 23, 2016 11:03 am

Marketing to make a product appear socially positive seems to work best with luxury items, and I expect that it works by assisting consumers to overcome the guilt they feel about frivolous spending. Blowing 10$ on a cup of coffee is a waste, but if the consumer can believe that at least part of that money goes to a worthy cause, sales resistance is lowered.
With Green marketing, the company in question doesn’t even have to donate any of their profits to a charity–just by being Green (which is never rigorously defined) the customer can feel good about a 10$ cup of coffee because it helps the environment. Following the logic would of course conclude that if the environment is harmed less by a 10$ cup of coffee than the 2$ cup down the street, forgoing coffee entirely would be even more helpful, but helping the environment (another term never rigorously defined) isn’t the goal, the goal is to sell luxury items.

Reply to  MishaBurnett
July 24, 2016 4:21 am

Good point. A Prius uses gasoline, just like my Mustang GT. Pride should begin when they use no gasoline.
Me, I’m happy to be restoring carbon to the atmosphere to feed the hungry plants in Africa.

July 23, 2016 11:08 am

If I see the words “Go Green” on an advertisement, I general go the other way. I refuse to participate in that feel good nonsense. It’s like if you do this, you will help save a tree. What? Trees are renewable crops and have been for decades. The U.S. has more trees now than when the first Europeans came over here. This whole green movement just shows how gullible people are.

Brian H
Reply to  Steve Hollar
July 23, 2016 9:32 pm

Speaking of crops: “Recycle your breadcrumbs! Save the wheat!”

July 23, 2016 11:14 am

“Much. much more efficient market solution compared to Carbon taxes.”
Ahhhhhhh…..but gubermints and eco-green terrorists do not care about the market. It’s all about making their own green and controlling you.

July 23, 2016 11:28 am

Yes, bur some consumers have more sense than others! An old blurb
Learn from the Amish! Phase out the CFL light bulb!
The Lord leads in mysterious ways. In 2001 we moved to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Leacock Township no less, the township with the highest Amish population anywhere. The soil was worked by horses and mules, the buggies were everywhere and the clotheslines revealed their plain clothes waving in the wind. … https://lenbilen.com/2013/09/22/learn-from-the-amish-phase-out-the-cfc-light-bulb/

July 23, 2016 11:39 am

Beer is green. Sometimes. Well…once a year.

Reply to  Pat Ch
July 23, 2016 11:57 am

Green beer is a good thing though… Then again so is brown beer and red beer and gold beer and black beer and well, just beer in general… Except IPA’s, I’m not fond of IPA’s.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  SMC
July 23, 2016 10:37 pm

No worry, SMC.
I’ve got your slack, lame-ass on IPAs.
You just have to realize there are a lot of shitty IPAs out in world. That leaves a lot of great IPAs still though to find.

Reply to  SMC
July 24, 2016 10:18 am

Joelobryan, you can have the IPA’s… unless they’re free. As every civilized beer drinker knows, or should know, Free Beer is the best beer (even if it is an IPA).

July 23, 2016 12:06 pm

Actually, the whole thing generally results in my taking my purchasing elsewhere. I dropped Home Depot after learning they buy up farmer’s land in Costa Rica and turn it into tree farms where they graciously allow the farmer to still work. Breyer’s sustainability and no growth hormones turned me off. I buy from only one seed company because of the non-GMO scam (seed companies are not allowed to sell GMO seeds). Any company that goes green immediately turns me off and I look for a rational replacement.

July 23, 2016 12:10 pm

Economics is simply the study of unlimited wants and limited means by which to satisfy them all and associated allocational efficiency. To that end you don’t spend a dollars worth of resources to obtain a $1.50 worth of benefits if spending it elsewhere can get you $2.00 worth (particularly if it’s my taxes) and welcome to marginal analysis and supply and demand. That’s often the quintessential problem for command economies and now the watermelons who often have different motives and demand that only they know best about-
Demand the peasants use spoons and forks rather than fossil fuels and everyone will be employed and happy. Well we can have lots of windmills and solar panels to help out, because if left to our own devices we’d naturally choose the cheaper private/individual cost-
and won’t be paying the proper social cost only the watermelons know about from their computer models. (welcome to externalities and the tragedy of the commoners they’d say)
Well they have a point providing they’re right about the computer models and their subsequent calculations of the cost of the externalities, but then there’s also the cost and effectiveness of their alternatives to consider. Well someone so eminently qualified has to work it all out for us and monitor and supervise it all and naturally spare no expense on them as simply part of the necessary overheads, in order to prevent greedy, ignorant bastards like us from absconding without paying all those true social costs they’ve got figured. Economics is a fairly straightforward social science as you can readily see from the summary here and with computing power nowadays, there’s always econometric modelling to help them work it all out for us.

Reply to  observa
July 23, 2016 3:00 pm

Spot on.
And when They have worked it out, We have to pay.
Please send my doctorate in Economics from Moscow University to my home address, the one I assume Vladimir the Hugely-Wealthy already knows.
Auto – still uncertain if it could be, alternatively, Vladimir the Ruthless Advantage-Taker of Water-Melon-Induced Lunacies. Bit long to go on a three-kopek coin, I suppose . . . .

Jim G1
July 23, 2016 1:04 pm

Why do consumers participate in ‘green’ programs?
Mostly ignorance regarding the actual costs and benefits of such programs as well as all the feel good issues noted here, most of which depend upon that self same ignorance component.

July 23, 2016 1:23 pm

It is simple ‘carrot and stick’ behavioral modification, as explained by B.F. Skinner. AKA ‘operant conditioning’, the *systematic* use of mild rewards and mild punishment during conditioning can ‘program’ the subject to perform any desired action from routine chores to life-sacrificing deeds. It has been around at least since Alexander the Great invented the professional army.
This is why the media is just as guilty as the Imams in encouraging terrorism – the media attention constitutes the reward.

Reply to  tadchem
July 23, 2016 7:02 pm

heh- earlier- it was the abrahamists main contribution to human history- they established animal husbandry and immediately applied it to their neighbors and children.
punishment has absolutely nothing to do with justice. it adds to the list of damages.
there is a heirarchy of amelioration when damage is done:
restitution: put it back – undo the damage
restoration: fix it – undo the damage
compensation: pay for a new one – doesn’t undo the damage, but it repairs the situation
punishment: add to the pile – create new claims – fix nothing and destroy more.
punishment is for sadists to persuade horrified onlookers that justice requires additional suffering.
sadists punish. only sadists punish.
only gullible cowards accept punishment.
real men fix what they broke.
get some.

Reply to  gnomish
July 24, 2016 11:01 am

I can see the 23rd century Onion article now: “Serial Killer Pays Cloning Costs for Victims, Walks”

michael hart
July 23, 2016 1:34 pm

“From recycling to reusing hotel towels, …”

In the 1980’s a trekking companion of mine was publicly called out in the airport at an Aeroflot stopover in Russia, because there was a towel missing from the room. This really is the world the greens want to take us back to.

July 23, 2016 1:58 pm

Since most of these feel good Eco/green programs amount to spoodiddily, it’s typical liberal symbolism over substance.

Reply to  Matthew W
July 23, 2016 4:58 pm

Right? I don’t see a single one of ’em giving up iPhones, indoor plumbing, shrink-wrapped and bar-coded “food” ready-to-eat, or their addiction to air travel and luxury goods manufactured on the far side of the earth. That’s why I consider their noise somewhere about as serious as the buzzing of flies. Like flies, they can’t help themselves, but it doesn’t mean we let them set policy for the rest of us.

Reply to  Goldrider
July 23, 2016 10:24 pm

As Lord of the Flies, I ‘resemble’ that!

July 23, 2016 2:40 pm

…Absolute proof that liberals have lost touch with reality…
======= Kerry:…” Air conditioners as big a threat as ISIS” ======
These people;’s way of thinking is really getting dangerous !

July 23, 2016 3:38 pm

I ONLY go with “green” if it saves me MONEY and there’s not very much of it out there that does that!

July 23, 2016 3:50 pm

The area many example of old school habits that are green based on life cycle analysis.
Composting is one example. It does require a little work and knowledge of what not to put in a compost pile. When you consider the fertilizer energy trapped in nitrogen in bacteria cells, composting is a great renewable energy project with zero capital costs.
The city of Seattle did some good research (no really!) that show putting garbage disposals in low income housing is good for the environment. The reason is that food waste gravity drains to the wastewater treatment system. Sewage sludge is used on semi-arid soils reducing wind erosion and increasing wheat yields.
Sewage sludge is just an unpopular form of composting. It does smell really bad.
Anaerobic digestion of animal waste is very green but has high capital cost. Factory farms are very green because the manure on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) is collected and used for fertilizer avoiding runoff into streams.
Recycling aluminum is a no brainer. Plastic, glass, and paper depend on the difference transportation energy between the landfill and where it is recycled. Marginal at best.
The point here is that there are many science based ways to reduce environmental impact. Green washing ignore science and focuses on making those who hate science feel good.

charles nelson
Reply to  Retired Kit P
July 23, 2016 6:21 pm


Reply to  Retired Kit P
July 23, 2016 6:31 pm

I’ve worked with micro-organisms that live in manure and it’s wise to be very careful with it.
Germany has had a botulism problem for many years and we don’t need that kind of problem here.
You can’t just dump sludge onto fields. This has to be managed as well.

Reply to  Barbara
July 23, 2016 11:07 pm

Thank you Barbara for the scary word of the day. Bad news, everything is dangerous. There are many pathogenic bacteria that are ubiquitous every place in the world.
Everyplace place in the world has a problem with botulism and it has nothing to do with animal waste. It has to do with with improper food preparation.
“You can’t just dump sludge onto fields.”
Nice use of the word ‘dump’. To be sure you can not just dump solar panels on the roofs of homes or dump wind turbines in fields.

July 23, 2016 5:41 pm

Along these lines John Kerry is giving up Refrigeration and A.C. since it it as threatening as ISIS. OOPS I got it wrong he wants the poor people to eats spoiled food and live in sweltering heat and just live with the terrorism while he grows his carbon footprint.

July 23, 2016 6:07 pm

Progs’ hearts throb whenever they can get
a green chill up their legs by adopting any
form of environmental quackery. Now the
hated “capitalists” have figured out how to
use it to milk the idjits of their cash. Good Show!

July 23, 2016 7:15 pm

They don’t seem to be accounting MY reaction, as I generally seek to avoid partonizing companies that promote the evil human-hating “green” religion, and tell them so with some regularity. I can’t be the only one.

charles nelson
July 23, 2016 8:28 pm

By embracing the millennial cult of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, the Greens have done themselves and the environment a terrible disservice.
I don’t think any rational being is happy about wanton habitat destruction or reduction in bio-diversity, but then these are linked to the witchcraft of Global Warming most people seem willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Joel OBryan
July 23, 2016 10:13 pm

Well duh?!!
People do “green” things b/c of “Save the Earth” propaganda.
Not that recycling one plastic bag or 10 billion plastic bags would make one iota of difference to the planet and climate.

July 24, 2016 1:35 am

I avoid buying products that are labelled natural, or sustainable or green in some way. I view these labels as warnings, they warn the consumer that these products are overpriced and are sub-par performers relative to their normal non-green competitors. So I avoid them.
Same with electric car and solar panel subsidies. When the government has to pay you to buy something, it’s a clear warning that these products are going to suck.

Reply to  Klem
July 24, 2016 11:19 am

Like my stock response to infomercials: “If this new product is as good as you claim, why do you need to butter it up with 2-for-1 deals and extra “free” gifts? A genuinely useful product can sell itself.”

Reply to  drednicolson
July 24, 2016 1:22 pm

The two for one deals are to get mucho extra dollars on the shipping and handling. The deals are always two for one “just pay separate shipping and handling”. If you look on the net for complaints about these deals it’s mainly people complaining about the outrageous shipping and handling charges.

Coach Springer
July 24, 2016 4:29 am

So, feeling good is a matter of perception and using a symbol is a good way of manipulating perception. Keen sense of the obvious there.

David Cage
July 25, 2016 6:04 am

Hybrid vehicles are ideal for taxi services and similar travel patterns of short journeys in start stop conditions provided you rarely use the vehicle for long runs. It ceases to be a benefit when the vehicle is used fifty fifty mileage for short and long runs from a study I found on the web done by one of the battery manufacturers but annoyingly it seems to have disappeared now.

James at 48
July 26, 2016 9:46 am

$0.25 per bag at the store … please hang your towels if you would like to reuse … put your CRVed containers into the trash company’s bin instead of cashing them in … what do all of these have in common. Your money into someone else’s pocket (and / or, less service for the same amount of money).

August 1, 2016 3:17 pm

When my county started doing different bin collections they introduced two separate recycling containers. One for cardboard and one for tins, plastic, and glass. One week later someone filmed the operatives putting it all in the refuse hopper for landfill. That annoyed me.
I personally think that if a company is trying too hard to be ‘green’ I often suspect ulterior motives.

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