Reap the rewards of green lifestyle choices

Sensemaking / Reap the rewards of green lifestyle choices

30 Jun 2011

Loyalty schemes incentivise sustainable choices

Move over, cuddly polar bear. Traditional ‘save the planet’ approaches to incentivising low-impact living may have met their match in the rise of loyalty schemes that reward green consumer and lifestyle choices.

In South Korea, the Government has recently announced plans to introduce a nationwide green credit card programme, where credits awarded for sustainable consumption choices are converted into rebates on utility bills, or directly into cash. Credits are earned by using public transport, collecting used batteries, or opting for a low-carbon detergent. For Hong Sung-pyo, Head of the Korean Green Purchasing Network, it’s “a chance to change the current mantra that living green is tough to achieve”.

Policy innovations on this scale will be key to reconciling national sustainability goals with mass behavioural change, says Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor of GreenBiz Group. But, he adds, “every society has a different relationship with its government: they will each have to experiment to find the right policy mix.” Greenie points

Solitaire Townsend, co-founder of communications agency Futerra, welcomes the financial incentive for low-carbon choices. “There’s a collective benefit in making greener living choices”, she says. “Now, individuals can be motivated by those choices too.”

In the private sector, similar plans are afoot. Eurostar and Green & Black’s are among a network of retailers setting up the green loyalty scheme, Ice. Each £2 spent on products identified as sustainable by the Soil Association, the Forestry Stewardship Council and the Energy Saving Trust earns the consumer 15 points, worth between 15-30p depending on how they are spent. Flexibility is key: points can be traded immediately, and mixed with other payment forms (cash, card).

Jude Thorne, Ice CEO, sees a need for green loyalty incentives across the full spectrum of consumer behaviour, from everyday activities to ‘once in a lifetime’ buys. “In every aspect of life”, she argues, “there needs to be a sustainable alternative”.

- Nick Chan

Photo: David_Ahn/istock

What might the implications of this be? What related articles have you seen?

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