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Behavioral Science in Sustainability: How to Convince People to Do Something About Microfiber Pollution


Our synthetic clothes shed off tiny pieces of plastic called microfibers. In fact, around half a million metric tonnes of microfibers end up in oceans because of us doing laundry. There's a simple way to stop this pollution: use microfiber filters for washing machines.

However, no matter how simple the solution sounds, it represents a new behavior for people. And as we all know, people usually don't like changes.

So, how do you convince them to install microfiber filters on their washing machines? Claire de la Mothe Karoubi analyzed the PlanetCare approach and identified 4 reasons why, according to behavioral science, this approach has been so effective.


1. Fits into existing patterns of consumption

If you want to convince people to do something, make it as easy as possible for them to do it. That's especially true when you're trying to convince someone to recycle the trash or use a microfiber filter. If they don't have separate trash bins in their kitchen, it's not very likely that they are going to separate their trash. Similar is true for microfiber filters - even if washing machines had a microfiber filter installed, how often do you buy a new washer? Probably every 10 years. That's why PlanetCare filters seamlessly integrate with existing washing machines, no matter how old they are.

Left: A practical IKEA waste sorting solution for easier recycling. Right: Easy-to-install PlanetCare microfiber filter for washing machine.

2. Limited choice: “We’re more likely to make a choice when there are fewer options.”

Saving the world from pollution can be overwhelming. There are so many options and so many things one person can do. How do you even choose?

Whenever people decide to contribute to lower microfiber pollution, we don't want to complicate their lives with too many options. They can either make a single purchase of a Starter Pack or subscribe to the service to get new filters delivered automatically.

Whatever you choose as your way of contributing, go for it! Every action counts, no matter how small or big.


3. Sequencing: “We are more likely to take action when complex activities are broken down into smaller tasks.”

To explain the whole process, PlanetCare can summarize it in 4 easy-to-understand steps:


4. Contrast “When scanning new visual information, we are unconsciously drawn to things that stand out against their surroundings.”

What could be easier to understand than a straightforward comparison?




To explore the full case study written by Claire de la Mothe Karoubi, read her article on Medium.

Nasti Susnjara
Nasti Susnjara
In 2020 I found out about the fact that our laundry is polluting oceans, and it changed my life. Once you see it, you can't unsee it. I became an advocate for "microplastic-free laundry", especially since it's so easy to do it by adding a simple filter to our washing machines.

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