While prior research indicates that most consumers are mindful of and averse to waste, resources are wasted in everyday life. The present research proposes that the establishment of pro-environmental credentials causes rather than reduces subsequent wasteful consumption. Two studies manipulating pro-environmental credentials and involving actual consumption behaviors support the hypothesis. Specifically, participants who had easily recalled their past environmentally-friendly actions (study 1) or who had made a recent purchase of green (vs. regular) products (study 2) were more prone to wasteful consumption of resources (e.g., paper, food). This research advances our understanding of consumer resource usage behavior by proposing a novel explanation as to why wasteful consumption occurs and highlights the importance of addressing the component of resource use when promoting sustainability.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol.49, 106-111