Are We Pre-Wired to be More Sustainable?

image: brain“Certain human behaviors today reflect hardwired traits that helped our ancestors and their kin over time. Such behaviors provide individual benefit, yet the collective impact of such actions can be detrimental to the environment…Confronting such behavior directly, such as asking individuals to make different choices because current ones are detrimental to the environment, has not proven very successful for marketers.”

Taking this concept into consideration, the GreenBiz explores alternatives to traditional direct methods.  Reviewing the post, Three Ancestral Traits that Drive Pro-environmental Behavior, our sustainability consulting finds interesting insight into human behavior and its affect on sustainable choices and resulting actions.  The article presents a more ‘pro-social’ approach to eco-motivation:

  • Social obligation – Human behavior suggests that we choose for our own interests.  By switching from a choice to a fait, research has shown that a better outcome aligned with the preferred eco-action delivers better results.
  • Social recognition - Another ancestral trait is that humans strive to achieve.  By aligning status with eco-choices, there is a human motivation to change.
  • Social influence – It is human nature to unconsciously emulate the behavior of others.  By promoting your own eco-actions and those of others, we are building a perpetual process of change.

In a perfect world, our world's energy is powered by renewable sources, business sustainability is the norm, and sustainable lifestyles abound.  While we're not quite there yet, as a sustainability consultant, I ask, "What will get us there?" 

Our sustainability consulting believes the positive impact on the environment continues to expand exponentially, as more and more individuals seek eco awareness in their personal lives and in their work.  Aligning this awareness with personal behavior motivations, we further believe there is no limit to sustainable change.

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