A Behavioral Economic Approach to Green Consumerism: Demand for Reusable Shopping Bags

Brent A Kaplan, Brett W Gelino, Derek D Reed


The success of behavioral economics is underscored by its emerging role in informing public policy. While applied behavioral economics has almost exclusively investigated pharmacological issues or the reinforcing efficacy of stimuli used in educational and clinical settings, we propose that this technology can be applied to the understanding and promotion of sustainable purchases in the American marketplace. Many communities have begun to adopt measures promoting such sustainable purchasing, but a conceptual understanding of proper pricing for these “green” products is lacking. An empirical foundation upon which to model prices can aid in generating revenue for distributors while simultaneously nudging sustainable decision-making on the part of the consumer. This report describes a study that successfully translates behavioral economic concepts to demand for sustainable products. A secondary contribution is the demonstration of relations between behavioral economic demand indices and scores on the New Ecological Paradigm Scale (i.e., construct validity), a renowned scale used by environmental psychologists and ecological economists.


behavioral economics, consumer behavior, demand, green consumerism, New Ecological Paradigm Scale, sustainability

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/bsi.v27i0.8003

Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility