Season 1 of our ‘Igniting Change’ podcast journey is now coming to an end! The entire catalyst for us starting this podcast, was that we really wanted to dive in and understand the disjoint between the sustainable intentions we all have vs. actually doing it. In our consumer research report we put out a few months ago, we saw there were three main reasons why the intention-action gap exists.
(To check out our research on the topic, download our report here)
Those reasons are:
Each and every episode Rich and I have learned so much and taken away great insights from our guests, so we wanted to wrap-up this season with some of our takeaways and highlights from the series.
For our very first podcast, we thought it only fitting to welcome Mark Maslin to the discussion. Not only is he a longtime friend of 3 Sided Cube, but Professor of Climatology at UCL, AND a published author with 10 popular books under his belt! His latest being “How to Save Our Planet: The Facts” and the one he referred to most on the Igniting Change podcast. Pick up your copy here.
Safe to say, Mark knows his stuff and we couldn’t wait to pick his brain (You can listen to the full episode here)
Why is there a disconnect between people’s intentions vs. their actions when it comes to sustainability?
Something that is often not taken into account when we pose this question, is that most people are very busy. Plain and simple! Most people out there are desperately trying to hold down a job or two, to get their kids to school on time, keep their families well fed and on top of all the other life admin.
The pace at which we keep in our day-to-day lives borders on frantic and all of that is just to get by, to survive.
So to turn around and say, “Look. I know you’ve got quite a bit on, but could you just stop and start to worry about the whole planet? C’mon, this is the greatest crisis facing humanity and all you’re worried about is whether or not your kid is eating all the peas on their plate?!?”
And that right there is what we really need to understand, how people think and live their lives in order to find a way of making their intentions so incredibly easy to achieve that the action happens without heaping on top of what everyone has going on. Of course, they want to do the right thing and have a greener lifestyle – so we need to facilitate that. Stop preaching and casting blame, but work out how we can support them to do the sustainable thing without even thinking about it?
For our second podcast, we were so excited to welcome Tolly Gregory to the discussion. She is a climate activist, artist and “trolling for good” enthusiast. We absolutely loved talking to her and were blown away by all she has accomplished in her 20 odd years. She is an absolute force of nature and I for one am excited to see what amazing things she is able to accomplish in 20 years more time!
Kind of like Batman she has her day job (as an artist) and goes as a climate justice activist by night, but instead of saving Gotham, she’s saving the world. Tolly has been an activist since the age of 11 and now uses her online presence to educate others. She gives the climate crisis her full attention by protesting, direct action and organising her community to action.
We jumped right in with the million dollar question (You can listen to the full episode here)
How can we work towards closing the intention-action gap?
It goes back to how we view “action”. We need to move away from this idea that it is solely consumer behaviour. We need action. We need to be more active in conversations, email our MP’s (AKA get out there and nag your MP’s!) and really bang your climate crisis drum in whatever makes the most sense for you!
An action Tolly can get behind is “trolling for good”. If we see fossil fuel companies on social media trying to greenwash their token efforts, then tear into it! Troll them. They are responsible for the mess we are in and doing that destroys their social license. If we all hate them, things will change. Don’t let the bastards win – gotta beat them at their own game.
These are all things that are easy enough to do, and they might seem a bit minor in the grand scheme of things, but shifting it away from being money-centric then it does open it up to more people. It is a lot more accessible and empowering to use your voice! Action doesn’t have to be this massive, time and money consuming thing, but all this adds up and squarely places the power with every individual.
For episode this episode, we were so excited to sit down and chat with Molly Webb! She has a heritage of climate action and lobbying and is the founder of Yoyu Tech.
Yoyu is an app for both iOS and Android that lets you log on and check the cleanest hours in the day to use energy, and also the “dirty” times to avoid using it. They have also JUST launched carbon tracking in the app so you can actually see how those actions of optimising your clean energy usage time add up in terms of how many grams of carbon are saved.
Whether it’s washing your dishes or doing your laundry, the app allows you to see the forecast of cleaner times in order to save carbon. This is a cool example of tech for good and giving people the tools and knowledge they need to make the most sustainable decisions.
We wanted to pick her brain about the entire reason for our ‘Igniting Change’ podcast so we jumped right in. (You can listen to the full episode here)
Why do the barriers exist in the intention-action gap?
The biggest learning from me was to realise that the good I want to create in the world in the long term, has to be coupled with something shorter term that also brings me benefit. Otherwise, it’s hard to make that long term choice and ignore that shorter-term discomfort. So to be able to give something people want and a carbon and energy literate outcome happen, as a result, is the perfect storm of alignment. Of course, it is REALLY hard to get right!
There is a behavioural barrier where it is just finding a way to have sustainable decisions happening at scale. The most likely way of that happening is by having it be automatic. No barriers or sticking points, everyone is in the same pot and are able to minimise the action gap by not having to take many actions at all – it’s just the norm.
For episode #4 we were so excited to sit down and chat with Marc Violo, Head of Marketing for Loop and tech and reuse enthusiast!
Loop is a global platform for reuse. We collaborate with brands and manufacturers to enable refillable versions of their conventional single-use products, and partner with leading retailers to embed these offerings into their online eCommerce and physical retail stores. We’re working with category-leading brands, retailers, restaurants, and more to activate a circular reuse ecosystem offering thousands of products – from your cup of coffee to your shampoo bottle – with an aim to make reuse as convenient and accessible as single-use.
Marc’s passion for a Circular Economy is clear, so we kicked-off the interview with our favourite million dollar question (You can listen to the full episode here)
How do we get consumers to change their behaviour to live more sustainably?
The key success factor to any reuse scheme is changing behaviours. It’s the hardest thing you can do, especially so when it’s behaviours that are so ingrained in all of us. We buy, use and bin it and since that is the norm, we don’t think beyond breaking that cycle.
We don’t have all the answers and feel as though we are learning all the time what our users want and the best way to engage with them. With the convenience that’s offered by using us, and the fact that the price is comparable to other products on the shelves, we are inherently changing that behaviour to make the more sustainable choice time and time again.
When talking about climate change, it’s intangible to expect consumers to be driven to make that change all day every day. From our morning coffee to lunchtime sandwiches, we’ve learned that it needs to come from a different place than this “good for the environment” but needs to be something that feels convenient, comfortable and cost-effective.
For episode #5 we were excited to be able to speak with Paul and as always, our minds were blown by the insights shared by our guest!
Paul is the Founder of Eumelia and they build technology for sustainable futures for hospitality and the food and beverage industry. Eumelia was started about a year ago, and they are currently teamed up with us to build an app that looks at the packaging within food and beverage and hospitality. In hospitality and food and beverage there is still loads to be done for sustainability and Eumelia is facing the challenge head-on.
Paul had a great answer for us on our quest to fully understand the intention-action gap (You can listen to the full episode here)
What are some of the barriers consumers face with the intention-action gap?
This is something that varies from industry to industry, but I’d say the most common thread across all of them would be convenience. People don’t want to change their day to day habits. They want something that is familiar and easy, so changing that core behaviour is tricky.
Something else that feeds off of convenience is motivation. We are all very data-driven. If we can see the facts or the direct effect of our actions, then we are more motivated to change our behaviour. If I could see the exact journey and what it took to produce that H&M shirt, would I buy it? Or if I could track the clothes I dropped off at a charity shop to see how much they earned that charity, wouldn’t I be more inclined to properly donate more because I’m more invested in that circular loop?
For episode #6 we were able to speak with Kate and we were keen to pick her brain all about the intention-action gap and the work she does for B CORP!
Kate oversees the community and their programmatic work with climate and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diverse and Inclusion). She joined B Lab 6 years ago and has always believed in business being a force for good. The idea of recognising our responsibility and our ability to help emerging markets and emerging countries and how we can use the power of business to influence that has been her modus operandi for her entire career.
She was the woman for the job to answer this question (You can listen to the full episode here)
What advice would you give to people that want to live more sustainably?
I don’t like the word ‘sustainability. It suggests a single department within a business but needs to be in every action you take. I prefer the word ‘responsibility. It is our responsibility to leave the planet in a better state than we found it. So as a business, it’s about being responsible for your decisions. Don’t be concerned by ‘perfect’ but do something and build upon it!
Focus on the things you do NOW and SMALL.
Question the ‘need’ to have meat once a day. Save the money you would have spent on buying meat every day and swap it to eat meat twice a week and buy local produce with a short supply chain.
In episode #7 we were able to speak with Tom Cheesewright. Tom is *the* Applied Futurist, so he helps people and organisations to see, share, and respond to a clearer vision of tomorrow. Which means he works with organisations, governments and charities to not only look into what the near and far term future looks like for them, but what they are going to do about it. The applied bit of his role is taking the learnings from what their future looks like and finding solutions to what they want to fix. Being a part of each client’s innovation and change is a challenge that he thoroughly enjoys sinking his teeth into.
Being an Applied Futurist, we asked Tom to look into his crystal ball to tell us what the future holds (You can listen to the full episode here)
What does the future hold?!
We are changing. Our diets are changing, people are aware of the climate and health benefits of a plant based diet. There are drivers for that change and those are, the desire to live more sustainably, healthfully and, as much as I hate to say this, the desire to live more trendy. More and more people are adopting a plant based diet across the country and that in large part, is due to the fact that living sustainably has become a trendy zeitgeist.
This trend is something I wholeheartedly support!
The fact that there are several benefits is the greatest motivator, so when people can see their actions are good for the planet, good for their health and places them squarely in the mix of the group think, those numbers will only grow.It’s all about those win-win’s.
If it’s good for you AND the planet, that’s wonderful!
Going the vegetarian or vegan option is now cool. Climate change has been a topic of conversation very a very long time, and now we are seeing collective agreement on the urgency of the crisis and a common goal of taking responsibility for our lifestyle to be a part of driving that change.
It’s cool to care.
For our last official episode we were excited to have the opportunity to speak with Jo Chidley, founder of Beauty Kitchen all about how reuse really does matter. One of her main drivers for operating is changing the way the beauty industry faces sustainability and she has done that through their reusable packaging system, Re. This system will not only change the way the beauty industry interacts with packaging, but also change the way consumers interact with packaging as well.
Jo and her team have been working hard to solve the challenge of setting up the infrastructure for reuse and reducing those barriers to entry. Because she is a champion for reuse we couldn’t wait to hear her answer for this question (You can listen to the full episode here)
What role do you think technology has in helping to save the planet?
It’s about everyone taking a certain amount of responsibility to understand what technology means. Because a lot of times the majority isn’t really aware of and doesn’t engage with it because they don’t understand what it’s capable of. Easy and simple technology that can be used by the masses is really powerful. Technology that is created for the circular economy needs to have the ability to go across different industries and be digestible by the users.
It has been a joy to be a part of Season 1 and have the opportunity to pick the most brilliant sustainably minded minds! Rich and I each learned loads and are that much closer to really understanding the intention-action gap and how technology can help close it! Thank you so much for listening and coming on this journey with us. If you are keen to be a part of Season 2 of our ‘Igniting Change’ podcast, please do shout us a holla.
You can listen to the episode in its entirety here: