Your green shopping bag is making you eat crap

Good morning, friends. Here’s an eco-conundrum to ponder. A study published last month in the Journal of Marketing found shoppers who brought their own bags to the supermarket tended to buy more chips, cookies and other treats than those who didn’t.

Toting my veggies home from a Saturday farmer's market trip
Toting my veggies home from a Saturday farmer’s market trip

How the goodness does this work?

The researchers found that the shoppers’ self-perceived righteousness ‘‘licensed’’ their self-indulgence.

Ha! I see this in action all the time. Possibly the worst case is the person who drinks bottled water (to avoid chemicals) then lights up a fag (seriously!).

Or health nuts who binge drink.

Prius drivers who no longer walk to the shops.

It all feeds into contemporary psychology theories that tell us that we have a “self-discipline muscle” that can get worn out if overworked.

So what is the gentle salve here? The mindset that can see us push through a little more consistently? I’d suggest it’s to stop being righteous about doing the virtuous, “green” thing and, well, just doing it. We put the work into creating the habit that sees us keep the bloody green bags in the car and sees us turn back on our bikes if we forget the bloody green bags on our way to the shops. We pull our fingers out. And we do so over and over again so that taking a bloody green bag is Just What We Do and not a righteous act that requires a pat on the back. Then we can focus our self-discipline muscle on skipping the junk food aisles.

Ditto taking a bloody drink bottle with you. Ditto jumping on a bloody bike to go pick up the kids from school.

The green movement can’t afford hypocrisy right now, don’t you think?

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