Want your energy efficiency program to succeed? Aim it at poor people

Read the full post at Grist.

So, say you are a government, and you want to persuade people to conserve electricity — because using less energy is one of the easiest ways out there to fight climate change. You could institute something like a carbon tax, but that’s not going to happen in the U.S. Instead, you come up with a plan that’s a total crowd pleaser: Everyone who manages to reduce their electrical bill by 20 percent compared to the previous year will get an additional 20 percent off from the savings they just earned by consuming less. Everyone is enrolled automatically: rich, poor, hippies, yuppies, people who compulsively unplug appliances when they are done using them, people who leave the porch light on all night because they’re scared of an unlit porch.

This program actually happened, in California, in 2005, although it was designed to help with the state’s energy crisis, rather than to cut carbon emissions. It was called the 20/20 program, and it was popular — both with people who got discount power that summer and with scientists, because it provided a really good data set.

Most recently, Koichiro Ito, a researcher working with the Energy Policy Institute in Chicago, looked at the data and turned it into a paper that was published this July in the journal Economic Policy. The title of the paper — “Asymmetric Incentives in Subsidies: Evidence from a Large-Scale Electricity Rebate Program” — is sort of a mouthful, so I will summarize this way: If you offer people money to inconvenience themselves on behalf of the environment, Ito writes, it’s the poor people who are really going to take you seriously.

Why Your Sustainability Strategy Can Be Pivotal to Employee Engagement

Read the full post at Triple Pundit.

The business case for implementing sustainable practices is clear, and regardless of what industry you’re in, the strain on natural resources is rising as a result of population growth and climate change.  Today, many companies are shifting to a sustainable business model to protect the ecosystem, realize associated cost-savings and support future business growth because a healthier, more vibrant society makes for a healthy economy. To achieve this vision, a business cannot only adopt purpose into its operations, opportunities, solutions and profit, but the notion of purpose must be embedded within its culture.

Webinar: Tribes Fostering Sustainable Behavior – Toolkit for Community Based Social Marketing

Thursday, September 3, 2015
11:00 am – 12:30 pm Central time
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4401787418327265538

Before you develop another brochure…
Before you distribute another flier…
Before you conduct your next environmental outreach initiative…

Use Community-Based Social Marketing strategies to foster sustainable behavior!

Community-based social marketing (CBSM) is an alternative approach to encouraging environmentally sustainable behaviors, by effectively combining marketing tools with community engagement techniques.

This webinar will discuss:

  • An overview of Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM).
  • A tribal demonstration of CBSM conducted by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Minnesota. By using the CBSM methodology, Fond du Lac successfully increased the recycling rate by 41% at its Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.
  • A draft Tribal Community-Based Social Marketing Toolkit, developed by Fond du Lac in collaboration with U.S. EPA Region 5 and Tetra Tech. We are seeking tribes’ and other stakeholder input on this draft CBSM toolkit; you are encouraged to provide feedback during the webinar.


  • Shannon Judd, Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • Stacey Durley, Project Manager, Tetra Tech

Ban on plastic bags no sure bet for environment

Read the full commentary by Adam Minter.

When the city council in Austin, Texas, passed a single-use plastic shopping bag ban in 2013, it assumed environmental benefits would follow. The calculation was reasonable enough: Fewer single-use bags in circulation would mean less waste at city landfills.

Two years later, an assessment commissioned by the city finds that the ban is having an unintended effect — people are now throwing away heavy-duty reusable plastic bags at an unprecedented rate. The city’s good intentions have proven all too vulnerable to the laws of supply and demand.

This Smartphone Game Exposes the Human Cost of Recycling E-Waste

Read the full post at Kill Screen.

Burn the Boards, which has just come out on iOS to complement an earlier Android release, is a game about what happens after you ditch your phone. The technical term for this sort of thing is e-waste. Various components in abandoned electronic goods can be salvaged, reused, or recycled. Harvesting these parts, however, often results in exposure to a variety of foul substances, which is to say nothing of large-scale pollution that is caused by the clumsy and negligent recycling of e-waste. As such, e-waste is less of a technical problem than it is a human one: The handling of these items exposes informal workers to considerable risks. Burn the Boards focuses on these human costs.

How Can We Make People Care About Climate Change?

Read the full story in Yale Environment360.

Norwegian psychologist Per Espen Stoknes has studied why so many people have remained unconcerned about climate change. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, he talks about the psychological barriers to public action on climate and how to overcome them.