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Inspiring Green Consumer Choices

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Inspiring Green Consumer Choices

Leverage Neuroscience to Reshape Marketplace Behavior

Kogan Page,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Inspire consumers to make greener choices by better understanding the neuroscience behind their buying behaviors.

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Rampant consumerism could push society to ecological collapse. Corporations, governments and NGOs must collaborate to inspire more sustainable buying behaviors among consumers, says applied neuroscience expert Michael E. Smith. He offers explanations as to why even the most thoughtful consumers make unsustainable buying decisions and guidance on how to overcome barriers to green consumption. Slowing down the negative effects of human activity on Earth requires a shift to circular economic practices, explains Smith, who calls on readers to embrace new mind-sets and radically disrupt consumption norms.


Overcoming unsustainable consumerism requires shifting to a circular economy.

The unprecedented, rapid growth of the global middle class in recent years has ushered in an unsustainable rise in consumption, as people across the world increasingly tax the Earth’s limited resources. Americans spend more than $1.2 trillion per year on nonessential services and goods, with the average household holding roughly 300,000 material possessions. An average American household – comprising 2.6 people – discards over two tons of solid waste and roughly 100 gallons of wastewater in a single year. Global plastic production rose sharply between 1950 and 2016, from roughly two million to over 380 million tons, yet people have only recycled less than 10% of that quantity. Humanity must contend with the “Great Acceleration”: an era in which human activity rapidly affects the environment, altering the biosphere and climate in meaningful and unhealthy ways.

Scottish psychologist and philosopher Kenneth Craik coined the term “mental model” to describe how human minds build internal representations of the external world. Influencing...

About the Author

Applied neuroscientist expert Michael E. Smith is the principal scientist at the strategy consultancy, Adaptation Research.

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