NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Social Marketing > Strategies > Commitment

Social scientists say that by giving a commitment to something it changes the way that person perceives themselves. This can be utilized in a positive way to encourage people to engage in the desired behavior. Human nature also desires consistency, so once a person commits to something they are more likely to follow through.

It is good to actively involve the person in an activity because then they have a vested interest and will more likely follow through on their commitment. Like the “I voted” sticker, an example of commitment would be to have folks wear a sticker, button or temporary tattoo that says “I compost” or “I recycle.”

To influence people to continue practicing a behavior, have them commit to the behavior. Verbal or written, a commitment is a powerful thing.

Owen Recycles

Agreeing to a small commitment often leads to agreement of a bigger commitment.
- Consider, when giving a presentation, asking if everyone there will recycle later that night, the next week, month or even year. You can simply have people raise their hands – everyone will want to feel they’re a part of it.
Written commitments are more effective than verbal commitments.
- You can also have people sign a “Promise to Recycle” pledge which they can take with them to remember their commitment.
Commitment made by a group can also be effective.
- College resident assistants can have their dorms commit to recycling as a group. The entire dorm or campus can become involved in a competition to see which group can recycle the most.
- A block leader can encourage recycling by obtaining verbal commitments from the neighbors. This has been shown to be an effective method at increasing recycling rates.

Help people see themselves as environmentally friendly in their commitment. They will feel good about what they are doing, and it will help encourage other environmentally friendly behaviors.



Muriel, from Orange County, N.C., talks about publicly recognizing businessses that recycle. The businesses that do recycle are listed in the newspaper.

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Pollution Prevention
North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance
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