What unsustainable behavior needs to change:
For decades, consumption has been celebrated as a sign of wealth, with little regard for the consequences. Western societies have especially become throwaway cultures, ignoring the pollution, hazardous working conditions, or CO2 emissions resulting from increasing consumption. For many years we didn’t consider the impact that our choices have on the environment and other people, such as buying fashion, cars, or meat.
But research from the Economist Intelligence Unit indicates that consumers actively seek information about the climate impact of the products they buy: since 2016, the number of Google searches for sustainable goods has risen by 71% worldwide.
Unfortunately, they often lack information about a products‘ sustainability, such as its carbon footprint. This information gap can hinder consumers‘ ability to make informed choices and support sustainable practices.
Grocery shopping can be especially challenging, with numerous products to evaluate and little time to do so. It is impractical for consumers to i.e. assess the carbon footprint of each product and its alternatives all on the shelf.
The Green Nudge:
To address this challenge, the Norwegian online supermarket, Oda, introduced an innovative solution to simplify climate-friendly shopping. They created a “climate receipt” that displays the price of purchased food items as well as their CO2 emissions.
In order to better show customers how much or how little is, say, 2.7 kg of CO2 per kilogram, they grouped all products into four different emissions categories: low, medium, high and very high – illustrated with the colours green, yellow, orange and red. Oda’s emissions data was sourced from Cicero (Centre for International Climate Research), a Norwegian centre for climate research that calculates emissions over the whole lifecycle of a product. Customers can thus see the impact of their product choices on the planet, and given that Oda gives this information for all purchases, they can also monitor how their own behaviour is changing.
The “climate receipt” allows consumers to make different choices: since they launched the climate receipt, meat sales have dropped – whereas sales of meat alternatives have grown by 80%, with customers buying 50% more fruit and vegetables. This demonstrates once again that customers will adopt more climate-friendly behaviours if you make their environmental impact more salient.