June 3, 2015

A More Effective Earth Day

This past Wednesday was Earth Day, an event which gets more and more attention every year. This year, Fox News claimed “The Earth is just fine, thank you.” International Business Times had a slightly different view: Environmental Destruction Continues Despite 45 Years of Earth Day Celebrations.

Without taking any sides, let’s assume for the sake of this newsletter that the goal is to reduce our impact. What’s the best way to get people to do it? The answer may surprise you. In this experiment, residents of San Marcos, CA were encouraged to use a fan instead of air conditioning. Public service messages were hung on their doorknobs with varying messages. Which one do you think would be most effective?

  1. “Save $54/month on your utility bill”
  2. “Prevent the release of 262 pounds of greenhouse gas per month”
  3. “Using a fan is more socially responsible!”
  4. “77% of your neighbors already use a fan”

According to the study, “Meter readings found that those presented with the “everyone’s doing it” argument reduced their energy consumption by 10% compared with a control group. No other group reduced energy use by more than 3% compared with the control group. All four of the non-control groups slipped in the long run, conserving less as time went on, but those exposed to peer pressure continued to record the lowest average daily energy use.”


Questions? Comments? Let's hear 'em.