A feasibility study of tailored feedback on habitual environmental behavior

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Problem Statement: Environmental feedback interventions show demonstrated success in reduction of household energy use. Few studies have been conducted, however, to encourage sustainable behaviors in consumer environments. Purpose Statement: This paper describes the use of an intervention approach to target environmental behaviors in a consumer environment. Methods: A brief environmental behavior intervention was tested against a brief intervention to reduce alcohol consumption using a randomized controlled design. A sample of 152 men was recruited over 13 weeks at a gay bar because the primary intervention was to test the reduction in alcohol use. Those randomly assigned to the environmental behavioral intervention had their carbon footprint assessed prior to entering the bar. The calculated carbon footprint was used to assign participants to three environmental feedback categories: low carbon footprint, average carbon footprint, and high carbon footprint. Several environmentally sustainable behaviors were discussed prior to bar attendance. The majority of these behaviors required changes in activities of daily living; however, the discussion also included advice to reduce the number of paper towels used inside the bar. The primary research question from this study was whether the environmental behavior intervention resulted in a reduction in paper towel use among those who were randomly assigned the environmental intervention. Participants were asked to complete a brief survey at exit from the bar in order to ascertain if paper towel use and alcohol use were changed by the feedback interventions. Findings: Participants receiving the brief environmental feedback intervention used significantly fewer paper towels while inside the bar (mean = 1.51, SD = 1.97) compared with those who received a brief alcohol feedback intervention (mean = 2.91, SD = 3.89). Even after clustering by date of data collection, individuals receiving the brief carbon footprint feedback used significantly fewer paper towels than did those who received feedback on alcohol use (F = 7.54, p ≤ 0.01). Conclusion: This intervention was appropriate for reducing use of disposable materials inside a bar. This feasibility trial supports utility of recruiting participants for environmental behavior change from consumer environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Sustainability
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Environmental Behavior
  • Feedback
  • Intervention


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