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Despite professing to care about the environment and supporting environmental causes, individuals behave in environmentally irresponsible ways like driving when they can take public transportation, littering, or disposing of toxic materials in unsound ways. This is the author's fourth exploration of how to encourage individuals to stop behaving irresponsibly about the environment they allege to care deeply about. The prior three articles all explored how the norm of environmental protection could be enlisted in this effort; this article applies those theoretical conclusions to the very practical task of getting people to switch the type of light bulb they use.

To accomplish this, the article synthesizes the previous articles into an assumption about the critical role of norms in changing personal behavior and tests that assumption by exploring how to make individuals more responsible consumers of electricity and adhere to the concrete norm of energy conservation by swapping out their incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent lights (“CFLs”). The agreed upon goal behind energy conservation is to reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuel-based energy production, thus reducing the emission of harmful airborne pollutants and greenhouse gases as well as the related environmental harms associated with coal production. One way to reduce residential energy consumption is to persuade individuals to switch to CFLs. Up to ninety percent of energy produced by incandescent bulbs is lost as heat; switching to CFLs is one way to prevent this energy loss.

Publication Citation

37 Hofstra L. Rev. 943-974 (2009)