Doing one’s grocery shopping with a reusable shopping bag may be good for the environment, but it might not be so good for a person’s health, because according to recent research using an eco-friendly tote bag makes shoppers more likely to buy indulgent snacks.
According to The Telegraph, new research from the Harvard School of Business indicates that shoppers who bring their own bags to the store are more likely to buy organic foods, but they are also more likely to buy junk food. The organic part is not surprising, but the idea that a person carrying a reusable bag is more likely to buy ice cream raised some eyebrows.
The study looked at millions of transactions in California and found that people with reusable bags were .25 percent more likely to buy organic produce, but 1.24 percent more likely to buy treats like ice cream, cookies, potato chips, and more.
Professor Uma Karmarkar says customers are likely rewarding themselves for bringing the bag by buying tasty treats..
“In consumer psychology the word 'licensing' is the key,” she explained. “ If I behave well in one situation, I give myself license to misbehave in another, unrelated situation. Similar research has also been done on health decisions. I get a Diet Coke; I treat myself to a hamburger. In this case bringing a bag makes you think you’re environmentally friendly, so you get some ice cream. You feel you’ve earned it.”