Could Your Reusable Shopping Bag Affect The Way You Shop?

If you’re the proud owner of an environmentally friendly reusable bag, give yourself a pat on the back. By using your bag to do the grocery shopping, you’re doing the environment a huge favour by reducing the amount of plastics sent to landfill.

Thus, you’ve got a right to be proud of yourself – and according to a new Harvard Business School (HBS) study of United States shoppers, us reusable bag owners are rewarding ourselves while we’re shopping the aisles with that very bag!

The study was published in January, and was conducted by researchers Uma R. Karmarkar, assistant professor of business administration at HBS, and Bryan Bollinger, assistant professor of marketing at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business of New York University. It examined the shopping choices of consumers who use reusable bags through empirical and experimental methods.

According to the study, shopping with a reusable bag could actually alter shopping behaviour – specifically, what sort of items are purchased.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that shoppers who used their own green bag were more likely to purchase organic or “environmentally responsible products”. Seeing as purchasers of reusable bags generally do so because they wish to support the environment, this outcome potentially goes ‘hand-in-hand’.

The authors theorised that this behaviour may also be provoked by the visual presence of environmentally friendly bags while shopping, thus encouraging shoppers to continue such eco friendly behaviour.

However, there was another interesting behaviour noted during the study. If you find yourself tempted by that bar of gourmet, expensive chocolate or bottle of champagne, don’t worry – perhaps it’s your reusable bag doing the shopping for you!

That’s right – according to the study, shoppers using reusable bags were also more likely to treat themselves or purchase “indulgent” items. The authors suggest that this may be because shoppers are more likely to indulge or ‘treat’ if they feel as if they have taken a “virtuous behaviour” – that is, by being environmentally and socially conscious through their use of a reusable bag.

If you’re taking eco friendly actions by using environmentally friendly bags, indulge all you like, we say – you deserve it!