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How can we get people to want to do things that are right for the environment without having to offer a monetary incentive?

When it comes to anything from recycling to conservation people want to know what benefit they will gain if they participate. Why do we need to gain something to care? Should we not care because it is the right thing to do?

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    Nov 23 2013: I agree Skylar...people would like to know what benefit they gain with participation. Education is always a good place to start with information, and I do not necessarily mean formal education, but rather awareness.

    I feel grateful to have learned as a child that the environment sustains us....it is where we grow our food....where we live every day of our lives. Would people continue to trash wetlands if they knew that the wetlands clean the water that eventually goes into our drinking water sources? Would they continue to clear cut many acres of land if they were aware of the value of growing trees for the air we breathe, and to prevent erosion of the soil which we need to grow food?

    These are just a couple examples of awareness or lack of awareness. It helps to have information which may contribute to finding balance in our world. Taking care of our environment supports us as human beings in this life adventure.....isn't that enough incentive?

    Welcome to TED conversations Skylar:>)
  • Nov 23 2013: People really care when their reputation is at stake. When others are watching our behaviour is at its finest.
    People could gain reward points which are displayable on social media and outgoing email displaying their positive environmental credentials.

    Its my view that when social businesses /environmental NPOs introduce visible reputation systems for their supporters/customers they can tap into the powerful emotion of peer pressure.

    Something like ted cred for ethical consumers - reputations being displayable on social media and on outgoing email. Ethical consumers will be enabled to build their online ethical reputations. Other consumers not wanting to be left behind or be seen as irresponsible will join in the scheme.

    Consumers could gain reward points for weekly recycling, reducing energy consumption, purchasing from social businesses, fairtrade etc, and for charitable donations.

    In Martin Nowaks' (Harvard mathematics) book Supercooperators he demonstrates that it is mathematically true that cooperators prevail over non cooperators. Cooperators win over free riders. It is mathematically shown that the success of the cooperation greatly improves when reputations of the individuals are visible to one another. Free riders are exposed and start to cooperate otherwise they are shunned by the cooperators. Can ethical behaviour go viral?

    Maybe we can arrive at a tipping point whereby best practice ethical behaviour changes the world... see my essay on this subject www.goviralbaby.com (essay on the loftily titled page 'world peace anyone?)
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    Nov 18 2013: well, something is usually the right thing to do because you do benefit by it
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    Nov 18 2013: Really just let the free market work. Sustainability also translates to lower cost in the long run. Market dynamics will show that. The only thing we need to do is ensure that the market is working and that the population is thinking.
    • Nov 23 2013: Free markets are possibly as illusive as the Free-thinking individuals making up the population......
  • Nov 18 2013: Create consciousness about the fragility of nature. Make the path of least resistance the "right thing to do".