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4.2 Stimulating Pro-Environmental Behaviors: Persuasion and Social Influence Theories

More current research explores the link between values and pro-environmental behaviors than seeks to identify the antecedents of environmental values. Pro-environmental behavior is behavior that consciously seeks to minimize the negative impact of one's actions on the natural and built world (e.g., minimize resource and energy consumption, reduce waste production) (Kollmuss and Agyeman 2010). Citizens engage in four distinct types of environmentally significant behavior (Stern 2000): environmental activism, nonactivist behaviors, private-sphere environmentalism, and other environmentally significant behaviors. Environmental activism often involves participation in social movements. Nonactivist behaviors in the public sphere can include active environmental citizenship (e.g., contributing to environmental organizations) as well as support for or acceptance of public policies (e.g., approval of environmental regulations). The outcome of public policy change can be significant since policies change the behaviors of many people and organizations simultaneously. Private-sphere environmentalism includes the purchase, use, and disposal of personal and household products having an environmental impact. The environmental impact of such behaviors is significant only in the aggregate. In terms of other environmentally significant behaviors, individuals can influence the actions of the organizations to which they belong. Such behaviors “can have great environmental impact because organizational actions are the largest direct source of many environmental problems” (p. 410).

Although Stern's typology was focused on citizens, some organizations seek to

mobilize their customers (e.g., Aspen Ski Company), others in their business community (e.g., Kelly Company), and members of their industry (e.g., Portland Trail Blazers) to become active. In terms of public policy, we read about how more than 500 businesses signed a Climate Declaration in 2013 urging US policy makers to capture economic opportunities associated with addressing climate change. Finally, the company that cleans Assurity Life's LEED-certified company headquarters can only use green organic, cleaning solutions, and all paper products (e.g., paper towels, tissue) are Green Seal certified, meaning that they are 100 % recycled and have no chlorine, bleach, harmful chemicals, or pigment dye. So the literature focusing on citizen's behavior has implications for our discussion of sustainability initiatives within and between organizations.

 
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