Changing people’s purchase behaviours is important in mitigating negative environmental impacts because their consumption habits contribute directly and indirectly to environmental degradation (Schrader and Thøgersen 2011). However, consumers who want to purchase environmentally friendly goods cannot normally identify them because the environmental profile of a product (for example, the environmental impact of pesticides sprayed in an apple orchard) is a credence attribute; that is, consumers cannot assess them even after purchase (Darby and Karni 1973; Teisl and Roe 1998). Even though this information is known to producers, they may find it difficult to market these environmentally better products as it is difficult to build consumer trust with credence attributes (Bonroy and Constantatos 2013) because, without a robust eco-labelling and certification programme, some firms will have an incentive to ‘greenwash’ (for example, see Greenpeace’s Greenwash campaign) or misrepresent the environmental attributes of their product (Cason and Gangadharan 2002; Hussain 2000). Many sellers are therefore willing to pay for eco-certification, and to be supportive of eco-label monitoring to ensure environmental claims are trusted and ‘greenwashers’ are unable to take advantage of unearned price premiums (Cason and Gangadharan 2002; Kirchhoff 1998).
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