Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We are Each Others Business


~Gwendolyn Brooks

Of Note: We might think that the secret to turning consumers green is money or information. Both have been tried with limited success. A few people bite but not enough to make a real difference. What have psychologists found that does change behavior? Guilt. Guilt associated with peer pressure works. For example, when Washington DC imposed a 5 cent surcharge on bags, the proponents of the measure hoped that bag use would decline. They further hedged their bet by making consumers ask for bags in front of other customers. The result? Bag usage declined from 68 million bags a quarter to 11 million. On Potomac River Watershed Cleanup Day, volunteers pulled 66% fewer bags out of the river than last year. One city councilman concluded that "it is more important to get into their heads than into their pocketbooks." Thus, while two-thirds of Americans say they are sympathetic with environmental causes, this attitude does little to translate into concrete action. Next time you are in a hotel, read the little sign that asks you to reuse your towels. It probably says "Join Your Fellow Guests in Helping Save the Environment--75 % of Guests Do" rather than "Show Your Respect for Nature." That is because the first sign moves guests to action, the second does not. One of the social psychologists conducting these influence studies concluded: "People don't recognize how powerful the pull of the crowd is on them. It is a fundamental cue as to what we should be doing."

Today's Weather Report: What a strange weather day. After over two weeks of warmish fall temperatures, today it started off cloudy and quite cool with rain pending. Then it lightly rained. Then the sun came out. After that, quite suddenly, black clouds rolled in with a twenty degree drop in temperature, and it poured. This was all before 3 PM. At this point, I took a nap. This was enough confusion for one day. Tomorrow the forecasters predict another nice day. Just for the fun of it, when I got into my car today, for no apparent reason, the car horn sounded, over and over and over. After that, the car did not want to run. Never having been through something like this before, I turned the car off and then on. At this point, the car kept running, but the blasted horn was still tooting and the lights were flashing. So, I did what any girl would do and drove down my road hoping it would stop--and it did. I realize now that I must have hit the PANIC button accidentally. This would be quite embarrassing in a parking lot.