In my husbands stocking, I included a reusable (and very stylish in my opinion) coffee cup. He takes it to work every day and uses it to get a coffee from the company canteen. When he first started using the cup he was a bit miffed as before, if you saved six of the coffee cup lids, you were given a free coffee. But as he was using his reusable cup, he couldn’t collect the lids so did not qualify for the free coffee.

Coffee cup

This was different from myself who got an extra stamp on my coffee loyalty card when I used my reusable cup or a ten percent discount at another one of the coffee shops I often go to.

However, recently the company where my husband works changed their promotion. Now you get a free coffee if you use your own reusable cup six time (they have a card which they stamp). I am not sure if the canteen have done this to save money (less cups to buy), or for environmental reasons – or maybe a little bit of both. But really, it does not matter as the end result is positive.

When I am trying to get people to change their behaviour, I rarely talk about the benefits for the environment. Instead I focus on what the target audience cares about, and what benefits they will gain from the behaviour change (we call this the ‘exchange’).

I also try to focus on immediate benefits, as we value immediate/short-term benefits greater than longer term ones (economists call this the ‘discount factor’).

For my husband, saving the planet is his motivation for using the reusable coffee cup. For others it might be the promise of a free coffee. However, it does not matter as long as we can show people that there are clear benefits (for them) of giving up plastic or reducing their plastic usage. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ message and we are not homogeneous and are motivated by different things.  So, to change people’s behaviour, we need to find out what motivates them and talk to them about that.

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