Behavior change

How VWR has built a successful employee engagement program

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

Sustainability manager Megan Maltenfort at the pharmaceutical supply company VWR knew her sustainability engagement programs were taking a turn for the better when a senior vice president in the company came running up to her, waving his arms.

“I got 100 percent!… I got 100 percent!,” the executive shouted. He had just completed a short assessment in an interactive online learning program about how sustainability impacts VWR’s business and how employees can help shape future initiatives at the company.

Earlier, Maltenfort and her colleagues had used a variety of methods to reach out and encourage greater participation and support for sustainability initiatives, but found they were facing an uphill battle. Now the tide had turned, and employees, managers and executives across the organization were coming to them.

Lessons from history: why what we say about sustainability matters

Read the full story in The Guardian.

The genius of the progressive intellectuals in late-nineteenth century America was that they didn’t invent new labels. Instead, they sought to subtly shift the definition of keywords that already resonated with the public. In their hands, individualism went from being shorthand for an absolute adherence to the doctrine of laissez faire government to being an argument for an activist state in certain areas. They managed this trick by arguing that the over-concentration of power and wealth was holding individuals back from fulfilling their full potential. Surely, they said, an individualistic society is one in which self-fulfilment is attainable for all…

Today’s battle for the heart and soul of business will be won not by inventing new and unfamiliar labels, but by changing the ideological content of the corporate world’s core vocabulary. Rightly or wrongly, the terms ‘sustainability’, ‘social responsibility’ and ‘corporate citizenship’ have a negative connotation in the eyes of many businesspeople, just as socialism had for the American electorate in 1900. The progressives didn’t change people’s mind about socialism, but they did manage to convince them to swallow many aspects of a socialist agenda by making their case in language the public already understood.

Beyond the CFL: Winning Images for Energy Efficiency

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Which images work best to get people excited about energy efficiency? More importantly, what kind of images inspire people to take action to save energy and support policies that drive energy savings? Resource Media’s research into energy efficiency visuals suggests several strategies to make energy efficiency imagery more appealing, inspiring and engaging.

The research demonstrates that:

  • Visuals are a powerful way to motivate people to take action in support of energy efficiency—whether through improvements in their own home, or through support for policies.
  • The best images are those that show real people doing tangible things to save energy in their homes and businesses.

Climate change vs. global warming: How to talk sustainability risk

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

There is growing concern in sustainability circles that efforts to reverse or mitigate the effects of Earth’s changing climate are not gaining momentum fast enough to match mounting risk factors.

That’s despite over half the general US population saying that they worry “a great deal” to “a fair amount” about our climate, according to a Gallup poll.

One reason for the disconnect increasingly supported by research: the language we use to describe the problem, which has climate hawks speculating that perhaps the issue could use a name change to something that elicits greater emotion, —and thereby more effectively spurs action.

More important than money? Environmental health benefits inspire people to cut back on electricity

Read the full story from UCLA.

What would inspire you to cut your electricity use: Finding out how much money you could save, or knowing how much cancer-causing air pollution you could eliminate?

A multidisciplinary study conducted at UCLA showed that eliminating pollution is the more powerful motivator.

People who regularly heard how much money they could save made virtually no changes, while repeated messages focused on environmental benefits caused people to cut their energy use an average of 8 percent. The study also found that the environmental message was especially effective in changing the behavior of people with children living in the home — they reduced their electricity use a whopping 19 percent. The study was published today in the journal PNAS.