Want to save the planet? Green choices can’t compensate for unsustainable choices… All consumption causes permanent environmental harm

In reality, green options are at best less harmful rather than restorative.The best thing for the environment would of course be for us to consume less overall.
–We should give consumers immediate feedback on how much ‘eco-labeled’ and other products add to the environmental impact of what they are buying. For example, self-scanning systems in supermarkets could provide customers with an accumulated carbon footprint estimate of their shopping basket.

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Sörqvist et al. Why People Harm the Environment Although They Try to Treat It Well: An Evolutionary-Cognitive Perspective on Climate CompensationFrontiers in Psychology, 2019; 10 DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00348

A new theory suggests that we think of our relationship with the environment like a social exchange, leading to the belief that ‘environmentally friendly’ behavior can compensate for ‘harmful’ behavior.

But unlike a social misstep, our environmental footprint cannot be smoothed over. Research reveals how advertisers, politicians and economic systems play on the psychology of ‘climate compensation’ — and encourages a more rational approach to environmental responsibility.

…”Reciprocity and balance in social relations have been fundamental to social cooperation, and thus to survival, so the human brain has become specialized through natural selection to compute and seek this balance,” says lead author Patrik Sörqvist, Professor of Environmental Psychology at the University of Gävle, Sweden. “But when applied to climate change, this social give-and-take thinking leads to the misconception that ‘green’ choices can compensate for unsustainable ones.”…. The best thing for the environment would of course be for us to consume less overall...