Using Social Influence for Positive Change

There’s a fascinating paradox among green consumers: they often put their wallets and convenience before sustainability. In a study by Harvard Business Review, 65% said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, yet only about 26% actually do so. So how can we use social influence and the power of the collective to create positive change? The answer might be simpler than imaged.



We have all adapted to social norms in one way or another. After all, the desire to fit in is human nature. Have you ever felt that tinge of guilt when you forgot your fabric shopping bag or reusable water bottle? Would you have felt this way 20 years ago? Probably not as much – society norms change, and all it takes is one person to start a trend. The more you make your eco-friendly behavior public, the more those around you will take notice, and hopefully, join the movement.

What can you do as an eco-friendly neighbor? The options are seemingly limitless. You could install solar panels, collect organic waste for compost, or make your next trip to the store with a bike instead of the car. You can even take it to the next level and start a local campaign – when people hear their next door or close-by neighbors are participating, they’re more likely to join in.



Brands listen to their consumers, so make your voice just as powerful as your pocketbook. Whether through global activism or individuals posting on social media, consumer pressure has sent numerous brands searching for more sustainable practices. We can’t wait for policy to shapeshift the system, but our collective voices can mobilize a movement towards a circular economy.

For example, do love a brand but not the packaging? Would you like to see your favorite product made with recycled content? Have ideas to make a product or service more sustainable? Write them on social media or email the company. Let brands know you love their product but would like to lessen its impact on the environment.



It may seem odd at first, but talking trash can be positive for the environment. Waste is a taboo topic in social circles but plays a pivotal role in the circular economy. Most consumers don’t know what happens to their rubbish after it’s collected. Recycling can also be a complicated subject because it varies greatly depending on where you live. Get in touch with your local council to learn how household waste is collected, managed and recycled.

You can also encourage stores in your area to establish recycling collection points for products. The UK’s largest pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer Boots recently launched a trial recycling scheme for your empty products that can’t be recycled in household waste. Social enterprises such as Terracycle® also collect empty product packaging to ensure your waste doesn’t go wasted.