If information about each of our environmental footprints was made public, concern for maintaining a good reputation could impact behaviour. Would you want your neighbours, friends, or colleagues to think of you as a free rider, harming the environment while benefiting from the restraint of others?

The power of reputation is already being harnessed to protect the environment. Hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius have recognisable designs, advertising their driver’s commitment to cleaner energy for all to see. Some energy companies give green flags to customers who choose to pay extra for energy from a more environmentally friendly source, allowing people to openly display their green credentials. Similarly, individuals who volunteer in environmental clean-up days receive T-shirts advertising their participation.