Conscious Consumption

No More Plastic Bags: Overcoming Consumer Resistance to Sustainability Regulation

Alison M. Joubert, Claudia Gonzalez-Arcos, Daiane Scaraboto, Jorgen Sandberg, and Rodrigo Guesalaga



Keywords: Consumer Resistance, Sustainability Intervention, Social Change, Regulation

Facilitating more sustainable consumer behavior through regulation is often more complex than expected. One way to significantly reduce consumer resistance to sustainability interventions is shifting the focus from changing individual behavior to changing the required social practices. While some consumers find new sense more easily and change their habits without much effort, others get distracted, discouraged and delay acceptance and the reconfiguration of the practice. If, like in our case, plastic bags are removed, consumers expect that retailers provide alternative materials for carrying the purchased goods. At the point of sale, advice for accommodating the change can reduce anger and frustration directed at the new situation and help consumers feel a sense of pride and satisfaction. If the bags are also used for garbage disposal, alternative solutions should be pointed out, and consumers should be informed which concrete contribution the measure can achieve.

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Alison M. Joubert, Assistant Professor, a.joubert@ business.uq.edu.au, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Claudia Gonzalez-Arcos, Assistant Professor, cgonzalez@business.uq.edu.au, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Daiane Scaraboto, Associate Professor, dscaraboto@unimelb.edu.au, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Jorgen Sandberg, Professor, j.sandberg@business.uq.edu.au, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and University of Warwick, England  

Rodrigo Guesalaga, Professor, rguesalaga@uft.cl, Universidad Finis Terrae, Santiago, Chile