Changing behavior and the domino effect

November 15, 2019

Each New Year’s ritual of resolutions, online self-help, and Twitter voices confirm that it’s difficult to change behavior, even when this means simply changing-up our daily routines for healthier habits and doing the best for the planet.

 

One small shift in habit or routine often leads to more positive change in consumer behavior in a domino effect. For instance, justifying the higher cost of organic food is a common obstacle even though most people know a diverse diet of healthy vegetables and fruit strengthens the immune system and lowers healthcare costs. 

 

If the Dirty Dozen [1] motivates a person to start buying just one or two organic vegetables or fruit each shopping trip, this opens the door to overcoming misperception. It doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing’ scenario.

 

This was my first year to try a CSA allotment (community supported agriculture). I’ve been a farm market shopper and organic food advocate for many years and understand the many benefits of supporting CSA’s. It’s a win-win for farmers and consumers. So why did it take me so long to try it?

 

It may seem we are hard-wired to stick-with certain behavioral programming. And this proves itself time and time again even with the most self-disciplined people.

 

It is natural to resist change.

 

Environmental change relies on motivating people to change behavior and stick-with those changes. It takes self-discipline to change routines—we are busy, life is complicated, and we'll usually take the path of least resistance unless our minds are opened to new possibilities.

 

I participated in a recent brainstorming session on the ‘true cost of food’ with a goal of making locally-grown food accessible to everyone. 

 

There are barriers to overcome, like transportation (how easy is public transportation) and time (farm market hours are limited and sometimes inconvenient), education (why should I pay more for organic food?) and perception (will I feel like I fit-in and be comfortable shopping at a farm market or health food store?). Humans have a strong emotional need to feel accepted. 

 

Momentum, and comfort, begins with those first small steps.

 

Sources:

 

[1] Dirty Dozen. EWG’s 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Environmental Working Group.  https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php 

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