Bags for Life: The Embedding of Ethical Consumerism
- 2.5k Downloads
The aim of this paper is to understand why some ethical behaviours fail to embed, and importantly what can be done about it. We address this by looking at an example where ethical behaviour has not become the norm, i.e. the widespread, habitual, use of ‘bags for life’. This is an interesting case because whilst a consistent message of ‘saving the environment’ has been the basis of the promotion of ‘bags for life’ in the United Kingdom for many years, their uptake has only recently become more widespread and still remains at low levels. Through an exploratory study, we unpack some of the contextual barriers which may influence ethical consumerism. We do this by examining the attitudes which influenced people to start using ‘bags for life’, and how people persuade others to use ‘bags for life’. We use a case study analysis to try and understand why ethical behaviour change has stalled and not become sustained. We find that both individuals and institutions play a significant interaction role in encouraging a sustained behavioural change towards ethical consumerism.
KeywordsAttitude–intention–behaviour gap Embedding behaviour change Environment plastic bags Ethical consumerism
British Broadcasting Corporation
British Retail Consortium, a leading trade association in the United Kingdom (UK) representing all forms of retailers
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, a UK government department responsible for policy and regulations on the environment, food and rural affairs
WRAP is funded by all four governments across the UK and the EU and run programmes in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help people recycle more and waste less, both at home and at work
- Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Andrew Irving Associates. (2005). Carrier bag usage and attitudes: Benchmark and target market survey. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/CarrierBagUsage.pdf.
- BBC News. (2008). Plastic bag bans around the world. 28th February, http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/world/7268960.stm. Accessed 3 October 2012.
- Biernacki, P., & Waldorf, D. (1981). Snowball sampling: Problems and techniques of chain referral sampling. Sociological Methods and Research, 10, 141–163.Google Scholar
- British Retail Consortium. (2010). http://www.brc.org.uk/. Accessed 17 June 2010.
- Carrington, M. J., Neville, B. A., & Whitwell, G. J. (2010). Why ethical consumers don’t walk their talk: Towards a framework for understanding the gap between the ethical purchase intentions and actual buying behaviour of ethically minded consumers. Journal of Business Ethics, 97, 139–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Cooper-Martin, E., & Holbrook, M. E. (1993). Ethical consumption experiences and ethical space. Advances in Consumer Research, 20(1), 113–118.Google Scholar
- Cowe, R., & Williams, S. (2000). Who are the ethical consumers?. London: The Cooperative Bank.Google Scholar
- Greenwood, R., & Hinings, C. R. (2006). Radical organizational change. In S.R. Clegg, C. Hardy, T. B. Lawrence, & W.R. Nord (Eds.), The Sage handbook of organization studies (2nd Ed., pp. 814–842). Sage: London.Google Scholar
- Haddock-Fraser, J. (2010). The link between corporate brands and eco-management: The role of the news media. Kent Business School Working Paper Series, no. 224.Google Scholar
- Hayabuchi, Y., Enomoto, Y., Yamasue, E., Okumura, H., & Ishihara, K. N. (2005). The role of environmental education and social system on the plastic bag problem. In Proceedings of 3rd conference on the public sector, Ljubljana, Slovenia.Google Scholar
- James, K., & Grant, T. (2003). LCA of degradable plastic bags. www.cfd.rmit.edu.au/content/download/232/1787/.../James_and_grant.pdf.
- Katz, E., & Lazarsfeld, P. F. (1955). Personal Influence: The part played by people in the flow of mass communications. New York, NY: The Free Press.Google Scholar
- Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Lewis, H., Verghese, K., & Fitzpatrick, L. (2010). Evaluating the sustainability impacts of packaging: The plastic carry bag dilemma. Packaging Technology and Science, 23, 145–160.Google Scholar
- Miles, M., & Huberman, M. A. (1994). Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Roach, J. (2008). Plastic bag ban gaining momentum around the world. National Geographic News, 4th April.Google Scholar
- Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations. New York, NY: Norton.Google Scholar
- The Co-operative Bank. (2009). Ten years of ethical consumerism: 1999–2008. http://www.co-operativebank.co.uk/corp/pdf/Ethical_Consumerism_Report.pdf. Accessed 13 July 2011.
- The Co-operative Group. (2012). Ethical Consumerism Report 2011. http://www.co-operative.coop/PageFiles/416561607/Ethical-Consumerism-Report-2011.pdf. Accessed 3 October 2012.
- WRAP. (2010). Waste and resources action programme. http://www.wrap.org.uk/retail/carrier_bags/carrier_bags_50.html. Accessed 26th August 2010.
- WRAP. (2012). New figures on carrier bags use released by WRAP. http://www.wrap.org.uk/content/new-figures-carrier-bages-use-released-wrap. Accessed 3rd October 2012.