energy consumption in the US

Putting Shame Messages To Work for the Environment


Organizations may use "shame" messages to get people to act.  Sometimes to give to a charity, for instance or other times to  change behaviors.

Whatever the case, they can be useful.

A few years back, researchers wanted to see if different types of shame messages might encourage residents to scale back on energy consumption.

An experiment was carried out in neighborhoods in the San Diego area.  Four different messages were left on doors, all asking that residents scale back on energy use.  

The different notes were the following:

1.    Please reduce energy to reduce the expenditure of resources on the planet

2.    Please reduce energy to save money at the end of the month on your own bill

3.    Please do this for future generations so that your children will have access to these resources

4.    The majority of your neighbors are regularly undertaking efforts to reduce energy in their homes. Please follow.

A month later, the researchers checked the electricity meters on the houses.  They discovered that the residents that received the first three messages made no changes, there were no reductions in energy consumption. 

However, the fourth one did produce results. Less energy was used in those homes.

"This is an example of 'prosocial' behavior," says Klaus Reichardt, CEO, and founder of Waterless Co., manufacturers of No-Water urinals. "This is when people band together to support each other and society as a whole."

In another experiment in Florida, 627 households were divided into two groups:

1.  Residents in group one were told to follow current water restrictions in place, i.e., only water their lawns on designated days

2.  Residents in group two were reminded (using street signs in their neighborhood), if the recent rainfall was meeting the watering needs of their lawn."

The researchers reported an “astonishing” 61 percent decrease in lawn watering in the second group. Further, many continued to not water their lawns after recent rains. **

"In this case, the shame message just had to appeal to common sense," says Reichardt. "There simply is no reason to water lawns after it rains."

For more information on the features and benefits of Waterless Urinals, contact a Waterless Co representative.