Mother Earth Living

The Good Life

All things Mother Earth Living

Add to My MSN

Does Buying Green Make Us Better People?

4/14/2010 12:00:00 AM


In my favorite “South Park” episode, the town of South Park is threatened by a huge cloud of “smug,” generated by self-righteous, hybrid-driving citizens. As more and more people get behind the wheels of their fuel-efficient cars, the “smug” cloud grows larger and tempers grow shorter, with hybrid drivers heckling the hybrid-less.

The “South Park” creators brilliantly depict a shadow side of the environmental movement. We may not go around flaunting it, but most of us think that, to some extent, our sustainable lifestyles makes us better people. We conserve water, try to reduce our carbon emissions and buy fair-trade and green-certified products. We deserve a pat on the back, right?

Our lifestyle choices do say a lot about us, but no choice is made in a vacuum—and a choice to buy green products might make us think we can be less conscious in other areas of our life, according to a recent study. The study, “Do Green Products Make Us Better People?”, suggested that consumers who buy green products act less altruistically—and are more likely to cheat and steal—than consumers who purchase conventional products.

Why? The study’s authors assume that everyday living is filled with conflicted decisions, always bound together. People who feel guilty about a previous action are more likely to act in an ethical way (as a means of making up for bad behavior), whereas people who have recently done good deeds are less likely to scrutinize their behavior. Buying green products—a good deed—makes people feel better about themselves, meaning they are more likely to indulge in self-interested behavior.

I, for one, plan to keep buying green (and feeling smug about it). And I’m trying not to think about what “bad” things I might be able to do in return…

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.

(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here