I’m always suspicious of companies who tout how environmentally friendly they are, when being green happens to coincide with cost savings for the firm. The best example is the ubiquitous message you see in hotel rooms asking the guest, in the spirit of the environment, not to have the sheets and towels washed during your visit. I have a hard time believing that if the situation were reversed – that the green answer was quite costly – the hotels would be such tree huggers. (For the record, I don’t care at all whether my sheets and towels get washed, so I cooperate.)
At a hotel in China, I finally found a “green” message that I found compelling:
Whoever designed this messaging understands behavioral economics. The specificity of the message is powerful and surprising – who would ever think not washing five towels could save enough to offset planting a tree? The reference to the United Nations gives it credibility. And then in the last sentence they evoke norms suggesting most guests reuse the towels, a trick that has been shown to be powerful in driving behavior.