The Psychology of “Going Green”

Eco psychology refers to the motivation people have for making environmentally friendly choices. Here are a few thoughts that may inspire you to start living a more green lifestyle.

by Don Laird, MS, NCC, LPC

Eco psychology refers to the motivation people have for making environmentally friendly or green choices. Going green isn’t just about using cloth bags instead of plastic ones or biking to work instead of driving. There is a psychology that links us to a green lifestyle. Here are a few thoughts that will hopefully inspire you to start living an environmentally friendly lifestyle.


In spite of efforts to promote awareness most people are going to follow their wallet over their conscience. If individuals see that they can save money by making environmentally friendly choices, they are more likely to be motivated to make such choices. Hybrid vehicles were not popular sellers when they first appeared on the market. However, their prices are now comparable with traditional cars and there are still tax advantages from purchasing a hybrid. They have become more affordable, but the environment still benefits, even though the environmental factor is secondary in this case.


Think puppies, kittens, love songs and romantic movies. We are emotional creatures and react to certain themes and symbols accordingly. An image of toddlers at play will illicit a certain emotional response while an image of a violent mob will spark a completely different emotion.  Accordingly, if going green is experienced or internalized as helping the planet, making it a better place, people will tend to be more receptive to environmentally friendly concepts. If we see the planet as “sick” or “hurting” we are more likely to empathize and thus more likely to help.


“With great power comes great responsibility,” so the saying goes. We all have an inherent need to be part of something larger than ourselves, contributing to something that will ripple to future generations. In short, we have an innate need to leave behind a legacy. Being responsible for living an environmentally friendly lifestyle is essential to future generations. By learning and teaching the use of green methods, it is possible to move society in a direction where we are all responsible for our actions. Fostering the concept of our being stewards of the earth promotes cooperation and a better understanding of our limited time to make a difference.


Forget politics for a moment, climate change is happening whether or not you chose to believe it is being accelerated by humans. The planet is warming at an alarming rate, air and water quality are diminishing rapidly. Disease and pestilence are rampant. Non-green practices will continue to exasperate these problems and maintaining our health will become more difficult. A green lifestyle is not the only solution to these issues, but they promote wellness and ultimately become part of a solution.


Living a lifestyle of apathy and indulgence is irresponsible and leads to non sustainability of the planet. A consumer-driven society that does consider the planet it is leaving behind for future generations is, at best, hopeless. So maybe your individual choice of cloth and paper bags over plastic may not save the world, but it won’t hurt it either. Going green doesn’t mean having to make drastic changes. It means making informed choices. As humans we embrace choice, we need it to survive. Going green promotes choice and helps provide a connection with our neighbors and the world at large.

What are some of your “green” practices?

Originally posted: http://pghpsychotherapy.com/2012/07/03/the-psychology-of-going-green/

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jane Taxpayer July 30, 2012 at 12:34 PM
The whole green movement is nothing but an annoying sham. Think about it. Our grandparents and some of our parents were "green" before it was even a term and they did it out of necessity and continued to do so. Where do you think the phrase "Waste not, want not." came from? Flash forward a generation and a half and kids were no longer drinking water from fountains, hoses, thermoses or canteens; they're parents were convinced that they needed to be drinking what? BOTTLED WATER in PLASTIC bottles! Once these greenies got enough people convinced that they needed to be drinking this fabulous bottled water, POOF! They've convinced the same people that we're filling the Atlantic ocean and landfills with plastic water bottles and we need to be recycling. It's the same story all over again with grocery bags. Please do not confuse the words "informed choice" with "media hype". Sit back and watch the world around you. Clean up after yourself. If you see somebody litter on the street, pick it up and throw it away. Truly it is common sense. The very subtle manipulation by the media and the higher-learning institutions is creating a society of lemmings instead of the brilliance that was once associated with higher education. Sadly it has also trickled down to public education as well. Quite honestly, I am shocked that the North Hills patch would even approve this particular blog for posting.


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