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15 January 2018

If people don't get Sustainability, it's not their fault

I recently attended a meeting where a representative of a local authority blamed the general public for falling recycling rates. This made me quite angry because if recycling rates have been higher in the recent past then it is clear the public is willing to do their bit. I know for a fact that a number of blunders, including giving out contradictory information, have confused the residents of that particular area.

This is just one example of many I've witnessed where people in the Sustainability profession blame others for the lack of behaviour change. 'Bless their little cotton socks' one practitioner told me, as if their employees were slow-witted children. But this is a dangerous attitude – the equivalent of a supermarket manager blaming their customers for deserting them for the better stocked rival down the street – it will do nothing to reverse decline.

I often say that the only difficult part of my Green Jujitsu approach to Sustainability Engagement is having the humility to see the world from your target audience's point of view. Everything you know about Sustainability is useless unless you can translate it into a form which means something to that audience. Completely useless.

 

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4 January 2018

Kick snobbery out of Sustainability in 2018!

OK, it was the slow news season with column inches to fill, but Lucy Siegel's attack on the eco-awareness generated by the BBC's excellent Blue Planet II in the Guardian got me really quite ticked off. Siegel's argument is that the right people knew this already ('woke' in modern parlance), but for the hoi polloi and Tory Government Ministers:

"for some reason we still wait for these rare, prime-time glimpses of the planet to give us permission to act on critical environmental issues."

This smacks of all the tin-eared, sanctimonious preaching of far too many green activists – ignoring the fact that Blue Planet has touched the many, many places where decades of campaigning haven't near (jealousy is probably why they feel they have to knock its success). They are the eco-equivalent of all those music fans who only like bands before they are famous and drop them with disdain when they hit the mainstream, muttering darkly about 'selling out'.

But the mainstream is where true Sustainability lies – real behavioural change by multitudes of real people. Personally, I'm no fan of the Tory party, but I rejoice when a Blue Planet-quoting Tory Minister announces action on single-use plastic packaging because that is real progress, both on a practical and a political level.

Another Guardian article caught my attention this week – Patrick Barkham describing some research on Sustainability and gender – apparently men are put off green behaviour as much of it, such as carrying a reusable shopping bag, is seen as feminine. Now, I think that is pretty daft, but, if this is the reality, then we have to deal with that reality. And Barkham quotes a great example of the approach to take:

One experiment found men more likely to donate to Wilderness Rangers – a fictional charity with a black and blue howling wolf logo – than Friends of Nature, with a twee font and tree symbol.

This is classic Green Jujitsu – reframing Sustainability to match the worldview of your audience. If they are macho, then make Sustainability macho. If they are engineers, translate it into engineering. If they are accountants, express it in £, $, €. If they are patriots, express it in terms of national pride.

But the first step in this is having the humility to realise that your audience's worldview is more important than your own. So, please don't be tempted into the high priesthood of Sustainability with their secret handshakes and codewords. Get out there and listen to people instead.

For more on Green Jujitsu, check out our online training course.

 

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13 December 2017

Sustainability Leadership on the Rise, despite Trump

There hasn't been much coverage of President Macron's One Planet Summit on Tuesday, probably because nothing went wrong. The event was to mark the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change and was marked by quite a number of big pledges from the EU, Governments national and local, corporates and investor groups. Divestment from fossil fuels was a strong theme.

PM Theresa May and Climate Change Secretary Claire Perry flew the flag for the UK.  As I've previously said, it makes complete sense for the PM to take ownership of Sustainability as this is one of the few (the only?) areas where the current Government has a good story to tell, plus it resonates with younger voters, a demographic where the Tories' polling is dire.

But it also raises the bar, with other UK political parties taking to the media to explain how they would do more than the Government. This kind of green one-upmanship is a wonderful thing and long may it continue.

Ms Perry has brought some real pragmatic ambition to the table with the recent Clean Growth Strategy and did a bit of (presumably inadvertent) Green Jujitsu at the Summit by telling the BBC's Daily Politics "Tackling climate change will bring jobs and growth, I thought that's what Donald Trump wanted."

Speaking of the President, Arnold Schwarzenegger made the best statement about the US and climate change I've heard in a long time:

“It doesn’t matter that Donald Trump backed out of the Paris agreement, because the private sector didn’t drop out, the public sector didn’t drop out, the universities didn’t drop out, the scientists didn’t drop out, the engineers didn’t drop out. No one else dropped out.

Donald Trump pulled Donald Trump out of the Paris agreement, so don’t worry about that. We at a subnational level are going to pick up the slack and continue on. We will fight and we will create the kind of future for our children and grandchildren because that is our responsibility and no one will stop us.”

Despite the Donald, I really feel that we are at a tipping point on Sustainability in general and climate action in particular. This level of leadership, visual and practical, is an inspiration to all of us on the ground. And, if you are finding a leadership vacuum in your organisation, remember Arnie's words and take up the slack.

 

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9 October 2017

The gluten delusion, dodgy quotes and climate science

cakeI love my local hipster-ish coffee shop, but it annoys me that all the cakes are proudly marked 'gluten-free'. A couple of times, I've joshed that I'd like mine with gluten only for the joke to fall flat in the face of incomprehension. It's long been understood that only those with coeliac disease need to avoid gluten; (in the words of Jay Rayner) if you feel bloated after eating bread it's because you're eating too much bread.

However was only this morning I saw in the paper that avoiding gluten can actually lead to health risks, not benefits (here's one of the scientific studies). In other words, people are damaging their health in the cause of their health – and not for the first time.

As a man who loves his food (especially cake), I can never understand how many people fall for every eating fad going, enriching various snake oil salesmen along the way. Every time one falls apart, qualified nutritionists tell us we should just eat a reasonable amount of a balanced diet and get a reasonable amount of exercise, but a couple of months later everybody is cutting something else out of their diet at the whim of the latest flogger of a better lifestyle.

This madness comes about because we make decisions by feel rather than evidence. Most people who are sceptical about climate science simply feel it is wrong. You rarely if ever see a climate scientist decide that the evidence doesn't stack up and go climate sceptic, however many one-time sceptics make the journey the other way – although it is often an irrational experience that persuades them to check the facts.

The big shame of modern life is the internet gives us unparalleled rapid fact-checking capabilities; yet we're more likely to pick up some dubious meme on Twitter than check who really did say:

"A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."

[it wasn't Mark Twain or Winston Churchill but it seems to have evolved from a Jonathan Swift quote].

The lesson for those of us trying to change the world is that facts generally don't resonate – you will never out-debate a climate denier as blind faith will beat a balanced argument nine times out of ten. Instead we've got to get inside people's heads, work out what makes them tick and tap into those feelings. Green Jujitsu in other words.

 

Check out our fab new Green Jujitsu: Smart Engagement for Sustainability course here.

 

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4 October 2017

When it comes to Sustainability, personal experience trumps facts

sunrise

Interesting story this week of columnist Peter Oborne, bone-dry right-of-centre journalist, has had a Damascene conversion to the cause of tackling climate change. “The press has failed” he said, going on to a mea culpa “I think I was rather too impressed by climate skeptics, to begin with."

So what triggered this awakening? Was it a graph of global temperature trends? Was it pictures of devastated communities in the wake of Hurricane Irma? Or was it thousands marching the streets demanding change?

Nope, none of those things.

It was cricket.

"Here we are at the end of September, and the cricket county championship is still being decided. 25 years ago, it never went on this long."

Of course this is as scientifically illiterate as all those "the Romans had vineyards in England" zombie myths that populate parts of the interweb. There are many valid measures of climate change he could have picked, but the cricket season is not one of them.

But on another level, it illustrates a very important point on engaging people in Sustainability. We rarely if ever change tack because of facts and figures. But we often do it because of experience.

I was an armchair environmentalist until I witnessed the devastated taiga downwind of a nickel smelter in arctic Russia – only then did I decided that tackling these problems would become my life's work. Standing there I could see (and taste) the plume of acidic emissions from the plant – a lump of engineering which made me feel a little ashamed to be an engineer.

This is why my Green Jujitsu approach tailors engagement to the audience. If cricket works for Oborne, then let's talk cricket. For me, it's engineering. For my NHS clients, it's healthcare. By making Sustainability relevant to people, you'll find it much easier to get them on board.

 

By the way, if you haven't checked out our new Green Jujitsu training course, check it out here.

 

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19 September 2017

Why #ClimateOptimist makes me want to cry


Yesterday afternoon, my Twitter feed suddenly filled with garish 80's-home-computer style graphics urging me to "Opt-in to be a #ClimateOptimist!".

"'Ello?" I asked myself and did some clicking. More hi-viz colours, more flashing slogans, some nice T-shirts, not much else. My heart sank.

Not because I'm a pessimist, no, quite the opposite. I'm a committed, if quietly pragmatic, optimist.

My problem is the answer to the fundamental question "Who is this for?", which appears to be "People like me (but maybe a bit more tolerant of childish text fonts)." But I already get it. I don't matter.

What does it say to the consumer on the high street on a Saturday afternoon? What does it say to the product designer choosing materials for the product those consumers are buying? What does it say to the policy maker deciding on transport investment, building standards or energy subsidies?

Not a lot. Nothing, in fact.

This is vitally important, because it is these people we need to speak to – the people who we must persuade to make different decisions to the ones they normally make. And to do that we need to translate Sustainability into a form that means something to them. Rattling slogans around the Sustainability echo-chamber is just a waste of time and effort.

Rant over.

 

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18 September 2017

Moving the Sustainability Conversation on...

Sustainability Engagement

An old friend and colleague dropped by for a cup of tea yesterday. While our respective kids decanted all the toys in the house onto the floor, we tried to put the world to rights. He was a bit frustrated as he had recently organised a high-brow discussion event on climate change, but despite all the intellectual firepower in the room, the conversation got stuck on one topic: domestic recycling.

We discussed this – agreeing that as recycling is the most obvious change in our home lives in the last decade or two that nods towards Sustainability, so that's why people default to it. We then mulled on how to move the conversation on.

My view is that if you want, say, people to choose more sustainable forms of transport, then trying to persuade them that their current choice is unsustainable is the wrong way to go (I referenced the newspaper column I ridiculed the other week). If you want to get people walking or cycling, then personal health is often the best button to press (I speak as someone who has lost 6kg since Christmas without reducing my cake intake) – along with providing the necessary infrastructure to make those choices more pleasant than driving. Likewise the Tesla approach of EV-as-status-symbol makes electric vehicles aspirational, not hair-shirt shroud-waving.

This is, of course, a form of Green Jujitsu, as we are often better not talking climate change, but the language which appeals to the audience. Cycling is good for you and the planet; it doesn't matter why people do it, just that they do.

 

[As an aside, the conversation getting stuck on recycling at the event may be due to the format and human nature. If you simply open the debate to the floor, then the first topic raised will often dominate the conversation – it's a simple psychological phenomenon. That's why for my engagement, I prefer to use a workshop format and large discussion templates – the format of the template is designed to make sure the participants cover every part of the exam question and not just the first thing that springs to mind. For more on this, check out our Workshop Facilitation Masterclass.]

 

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6 September 2017

The biggest truth in Sustainability...

Framing Sustainability

On Monday I spent a total of 7 hours going to and from Birmingham by train for a project close presentation to a client. This always gives some time for thought, background reading and poking around social media – all soundtracked by the Rolling Stones live in Brussels '73 or some other classic live album of the 1970s.

One tweet from another sustainability practitioner caught my eye; roughly speaking it went:

We have #Brexit and the #McStrike and all people can talk about is the #RoyalBaby 😡.

Now let's deconstruct this a little. The Brexit jalopy has been spluttering along for 15 months since the referendum without a dun-dun-DAAAAAH moment. I'm politically active, campaigned for Remain, would love a second referendum, and yet I am bored stupid by Brexit – I now skim read the newspaper stories and I guess most do the same.

I am not surprised that MacDonald's employees are striking given their poor wages and insecure contracts, BUT, let's put it into perspective: there were 2 restaurants striking out of 1249 in the UK – hardly Hold the Front Page stuff no matter how much you or I might support the cause.

Lastly, the royal baby has all the ingredients of public appeal – celebrity, gossip, glamour, happiness, impending cuteness etc, etc. It hasn't captured much of my attention, or that of the tweeter above, but it is not surprising it has caught the public mood.

Because here's the rub. Not everybody thinks like me, the tweeter, or you. Or should do. Just because I'm not that into the royal baby news, it doesn't mean that millions of people aren't - or shouldn't be.

My biggest realisation is Sustainability was that to engage people for whom Sustainability is an alien concept, we've got to stop talking about Sustainability from a practitioner's point of view. If they haven't 'got it' already, they won't 'get it' by being preached at. Instead we've got to put ourselves in the audience's shoes, see the world from their perspective, and reframe Sustainability to resonate with that worldview. I call this Green Jujitsu.

If you haven't checked out our new Green Jujitsu Employee Engagement training yet, then click here for details.

 

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4 September 2017

Sustainability Bites Ep1: Harvey & Climate Change

Here's the pilot episode of a new series of short, sharp, lo-fi Sustainability snippets I've decided to launch. I've called it Sustainability Bites as a. the episodes are bite-sized, and b. it's all about how Sustainability is starting to bite – we've gone way beyond chin-stroking and are now making different decisions to make things happen.

This edition is about whether natural disasters are the right time to raise climate change.

At present, these will appear as and when I feel like it rather than on a regular basis, although it may find it's own niche naturally. The best way to keep up is head over to my Facebook page and send me a friend request!

 

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14 August 2017

Ignore Lawson et al, get on with the job in hand

Opening eyes

You can't have missed the furore. Al Gore was touring the British media last week promoting his new climate change movie, An Inconvenient Sequel. After his interview on Radio 4's Today programme, the BBC (disclosure, a Terra Infirma client) let climate sceptic Lord Lawson spout a few climate/clean energy zombie myths by way of 'balance'.

Twitter went into meltdown. Scientists, environmentalists and environmental scientists tore into the BBC for 'false balance' (presenting a minority view with equal weight to the consensus). Carbon Brief did their usual methodical debunking of Lawson's claims which forced Lawson's Global Warming Policy Forum to withdraw his erroneous claim that global temperatures were flatlining. Everybody else, huffed and puffed as if it was the end of the world.

Now I agree with the frustration, but I think the sound and fury is misplaced. Why?

  1. You ain't gonna stop Lawson. He's invested too much personally in this bunkum to back down, he is/was a significant political figure, and we have free speech in this country, which means hearing what you don't like as well as what you do. He will get on the media whether we like it or not.
  2. When was the last time you changed your mind on a subject because you heard a politician say something? The listeners probably came away with the view that Lawson didn't agree with Gore rather than believing Gore was wrong. I would be very surprised if anyone changed their minds.
  3. If people are susceptible to Lawson's message, then we're not going to bring them back on board by screaming at either Lawson or the BBC. It just creates more noise and plays into the sceptics' claims that environmentalism is a religion rather than based on sound scientific evidence. We need cleverer ways to sell sustainability to those people (I would of course recommend Green Jujitsu).
  4. Lawson, along with Monckton, Ridley, Lomborg et al, have been spectacularly unsuccessful at slowing the shift to a low carbon economy (see graph of the UK's renewables growth as an example). Yes, it could always go faster, but I would suspect that institutional inertia, the planning system, the immaturity of supply chains, and short termism are all more potent brakes than a few smart arses writing newspaper columns, tweeting or getting a few seconds on the wireless. UK_renewables_generated
  5. We each have limited time, energy and cash. We can choose to spend those resources moving our society to a more sustainable footing, or we can jump up and down in rage. I responded to Donald Trump's election by making a modest investment in renewable energy as it was the only thing I could think of which would make me feel better at that moment. It did, and it will have a much more positive effect on the planet, and my sanity, than spending the same time raging ineffectually on social media.

When I made this point on social media, a colleague responded that we had to "remove ALL barriers to climate action". This is not the case: perfectionism is the enemy of success. Some barriers are insignificant and should be ignored as they are a waste of energy. We need to focus on the significant barriers, remove those that can be removed, and work around those that can't.

Let's do it!

 

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3 August 2017

This makes me wanna scream...

screamEven as a committed carnivore, I found this article in the Observer on the increasing number of elite athletes turning to veganism really interesting at first. Then came the backlash in the second half – the sanctimonious hardcore vegans saying things like:

"However, there are many high-profile vegan athletes who never mention anything but their personal, selfish benefits from avoiding animal products and eating more plants."

Or

"I’m always sceptical when I hear that a sportsperson or celebrity has become ‘plant-based’ for health reasons. It dilutes veganism into being just a diet when in fact veganism is an ethos, a lifestyle of non-violence and compassion towards all living creatures."

[My emphases]

This really makes me mad... do they want people to give up animal products or not? The message is "never mind what you do, unless you believe everything I believe then you are morally inferior" – how arrogant is that? It is the epitome of the self-appointed moral priesthood which crosses from veganism into the deep-green end of the environmental movement – raising the bar to entry rather than lowering it.

That lowering of the bar to Sustainability is my life's ambition – getting more and more people on board, enjoying a more sustainable lifestyle, imperfections and all. That is why I formulated the idea of Green Jujitsu – to reach out, rather than push away. Because that is the only way we will do what we need to do. And you'd better believe it!

 

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1 August 2017

Happy 11th Birthday Terra Infirma!

Terra Infirma is 4 years old!So, it is 11 years to the day that I jumped off the cruise ship of salaried employment and onto the windsurfing board of solo consultancy – just before the tsunami of the 2007/08 financial crisis gave me a rather brutal lesson in business survival. Looking back over the last year, as I always do on this date, the uncertainty created by Brexit has certainly caused similar choppy waters as many people who would like our help are either unable to invest, or afraid to.

This has led to a year of ups and downs. A good illustration is that, while our North of England-based Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group is going from strength to strength, hitting the maximum membership limit this year for the very first time, I was unable to get a critical mass together to launch a Southern chapter. Brexit was quoted by several otherwise very interested contacts as a reason they couldn't commit. The great irony of course is that during the financial crisis companies with a strong commitment to Sustainability weathered the storm better than those who didn't.

But that grumble aside, here are some more highlights of the last 12 months:

  • Continuing to work with our wonderful roster of existing clients including the BBC, NHS Blood & Transplant, Johnson Matthey, Newcastle NHS Hospitals Trust and Stanley Black & Decker;
  • Some great new clients including Durham University, Esh Construction, the Thirteen Group and Elopak;
  • The publication of our latest white paper Seven Steps to a Successful Sustainability Strategy;
  • Some fantastic questions for my regular Ask Gareth YouTube series (If you haven't subscribed to our YouTube channel, get over there straight away and do so);
  • Continuing success of our regular Green Academy training programme;
  • And, more recently, the launch of our new online training course: Green Jujitsu: Smart Employee Engagement for Sustainability.

And things are looking pretty good for the six months ahead with an strong focus on helping clients to implement their Sustainability Strategy. The good ship Terra Infirma sails on!

 

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25 July 2017

New! Employee Engagement for Sustainability Training

I've been caught on the hop by my new Green Jujitsu: Employee Engagement for Sustainability online course getting approved by Udemy in super short time. I was working up the launch campaign when it suddenly went live. So I'm having to improvise...

You can see what the course is all about in the video above – basically the opportunity to revolutionise your Sustainability programme through one simple change in mindset – and a smorgasbord of ways to apply it!

If you use this link to register before 31 July 2017, you'll get a whopping 75% off the full price of £95 – already a bargain. I won't be offering this level of discount again, so make sure you grab it now! Don't delay...

 

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12 July 2017

Can you be too passionate about Sustainability?


This month's Ask Gareth considers an excellent question from Anna-Lisa Mills of True North Sustainability: is your passion for Sustainability a help or a hindrance? In response, I take a journey from Inca ruins in Ecuador to the dreaded 'panic zone' and explain how Green Jujitsu is the answer.

Ask Gareth depends on a steady stream of killer sustainability/CSR questions, so please tell me what's bugging you about sustainability (click here) and I'll do my best to help.

You can see all previous editions of Ask Gareth here.

 

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10 July 2017

Me, the Tour de France and Green Jujitsu

TDF_2016_étape_11

Stage 11, Tour de France 2016, © Sapin88, creative commons licence

It's the first rest day in this year's Tour de France and I'm missing the action already. As I'm writing this, I'm listening to the analysis of yesterday's dramatic stage from The Cycling Podcast and I'll catch up on a couple more podcasts during the day. I've decided to do some filming video today as I can't watch the race and do that at the same time, and leave the grunt work I have to do in front of the TV tomorrow. You could say I'm addicted.

Yet rewind 5 years and the Tour de France, or any cycle racing, wasn't on my radar at all. I was a keen cyclist in terms of it being a pastime – a ride to a pub for a burger and a pint on a sunny day – but racing never caught my attention. Various earnest people had tried to explain its attractions over the years, but my entire interaction was the occasional glimpse of a snake of lurid lycra on a friend's telly and doping scandal headlines in the papers.

So what changed? Very simple. On 5 July 2014, the Tour's Grand Depart took the peloton through Wensleydale in Yorkshire. We had spent a couple of fantastic holidays in Askrigg in Wensleydale and were heading back that August. I knew those roads and those villages, so I wanted to see how they looked on the TV. That's it.

And I was instantly hooked – I've hardly missed a TdF stage since and my interest has spread to the other grand tours and the one day classics. So what changed?

Simple. That half hour or so of racing through Wensleydale and up over Buttertubs pass was where my world and the Tour overlapped – so I paid attention.

This is exactly what I do when I use Green Jujitsu for employee engagement for Sustainability – I find the overlap between the attention of the audience and Sustainability because that's where you get Sustainability through their filters and make it interesting and relevant to them. And it works!

Green Jujitsu Venn

 

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30 June 2017

Perfect Green Jujitsu

Green Jujitsu Venn

On Wednesday I was delivering a workshop upskilling green champions at one of my healthcare clients. Just before we got into the meat of the session, learning about green jujitsu (see above) in order to engage effectively with their colleagues, the director with responsibility for Sustainability (amongst a much wider portfolio of responsibility) arrived to talk to the champions.

I'm always a little nervous at times like these as I have to keep my fingers crossed that what 'The Boss' says is aligned to what I am trying to communicate. While I have done a boardroom session where I used green jujitsu to get the board to make the links between the health and sustainability agendas, I haven't explicitly coached them in the technique.

I needn't have worried, the director told the champions clearly that, as their mission was to save and improve lives, then Sustainability was very much part of that mission, whether in terms of air quality, reduction of toxic materials or climate change. That is the perfect green jujitsu, when you can link Sustainability to the core purpose of the organisation.

I then explained the principles of green jujitsu to the champions. We all filter out all the stuff that doesn't interest us and pay attention only to what we want to – like flicking through the magazines in the dentist's waiting room until an article or picture catches our attention. So to get people's attention in Sustainability, you have to find the elements of Sustainability which get through their filters.

If your message is "Stop thinking about what you are passionate about and think about what I am passionate about", you start to sound like the pub bore. My client's employees are passionate about health, so health becomes the starting point every time.

 

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26 June 2017

Heinz need to ketchup on customer engagement

HZK_3D_38oz-Ketchup-smallLast week I was chatting with a local authority recycling officer, checking exactly what I could put in my recycling bin (and if I'm not 100% sure...). We got on to the Lucozade Sport problem, then he mentioned his bugbear was Heinz, who, he said, don't even label their plastic bottles with recycling codes.

So, in an idle moment I thought I'd try the power of social media and tweeted to Heinz UK to ask why not. They promptly and politely replied that the bottles do have recycling codes, but they're hidden under the cap. I checked and they were right.

But.

But, but, but.

What's the point of hiding away your code? Everybody else puts it on the bottom of the bottle, and those members of the public, like me, who know that code 1 or 2 on a bottle means it can be recycled, will look for it there. Recycling plant operatives will certainly look for it there. And if a guy with decades of experience in household recycling doesn't know where it is, what chance do the rest of us have?

One of my Green Jujitsu principles is that Sustainability information must be placed where people expect to find the information they need. I often quote the example of a client who labelled all the machines in their production lines which should be switched off when idle, but didn't include any guidance in the formal manufacturing instructions which are held as gospel by operatives and their line management. The labels got ignored because, even though they were in plain sight, the information wasn't in the right place.

I've asked Heinz why the stamp isn't on the bottom of the bottle, but they haven't got back to me yet.

 

 

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21 June 2017

Neutralising anti-green attacks

bike lane westminsterNewspaper-cutting-2-1024x993

 

 

 

 

 

Between the horrific series of recent terrorist attacks and the shocking disaster that was the Grenfell Tower fire, the UK has been hit with some pretty grim news recently. For me, these horrors are exacerbated by the distasteful use of such events by commentators to further their tangential ideological aims – from people across the political spectrum, I have to say.

A sizeable chunk of this jumping to convenient conclusions is aimed squarely at the Sustainability agenda. Cycle lanes have been blamed in the Westminster Bridge attack for no better reason than they were there (a kerb is a kerb, after all) and the Daily Mail has pointed the finger at 'green targets' for the deaths at Grenfell.

As Carbon Brief has pointed out, the main reason for the suspect external cladding on the tower block was to tackle fuel poverty, with carbon reductions a subsidiary factor. The main aim of the public inquiry must be whether the cladding was responsible for the deaths (as it first appears), whether the material and its installation was compliant with fire regulations, if not, who was blame, and, if so, how those regulations need to be changed. Read the rest of this entry »

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28 April 2017

Mind your Sustainability Language

world brainI first wrote about Green Jujitsu in the sense of choosing your language to suit the audience (I've since expanded that from everything from images to engagement activities) and I've been reminded of the importance of the words we use several times recently:

  • A client who is restructuring and the names of the new divisions reflect what the customer gets – this has had the effect of reinforcing that much of their market is helping others be more Sustainable;
  • A local cycling/walking infrastructure project based on the 'mini-Hollands' in London, but branded with the much more friendly (and descriptive) Streets for People – a move lauded by someone who'd taken a lot of flack when working on the former;
  • Someone who made the mistake of labelling an energy efficiency project as Sustainability rather than cost reduction and then found the project was cancelled to, ironically cut (less) cost.

The whole point of Green Jujitsu is to let go of Sustainability and let the organisation own it in whatever form works for the organisation, and the language you use is the easiest (and cheapest) way to make that happen.

 

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26 April 2017

Beware the HiPPO

2560px-Hippo_mouth_opening

At a meeting this morning, someone used an acronym which I don't think I'd heard before: 'HiPPO' – the Highest Paid Person's Opinion. But I know exactly what it means – I once lost a client because I disagreed with the HiPPO in the room. I was right (naturally), but it didn't matter, the HiPPO prevailed, everybody else fell into line, and the next phase of my involvement in the project never materialised.

It's kind of like that ancient Chinese engineer who suggested the Great Wall of China wasn't being built the best way. The engineer was right (naturally), they adopted his idea, but they lopped off his head anyway for daring to go up against the Emperor. This kind of macho, rutting stag culture annoys the hell out of me, but when it's there, it's there and you have to deal with it.

Of course, the Green Jujitsu approach would have been to persuade the HiPPO that he had realised that there was a much better way of approaching the problem, rather than me, an outsider, dismantling his logic. But you can't win 'em all.

 

Photo © Jon Connell used under creative commons licence

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