Building a Do Nation

nick donationI’m a couple of weeks into my new role at Do Nation and this seems like a good opportunity to reflect on the challenges we face in the next few years and to think about how we might go about achieving our aims. Beyond our business objectives, what is it we actually want to achieve as an organisation?

Put simply, we want to reach and engage with as many people as we can to get them to try some new sustainable, healthy activities for two months. Whether that is dropping meat for a few meals a week, changing their electricity supplier to one with a focus on renewables or cycling to work or any of the 42 Do Actions on our site.

We’re on a mission to demonstrate that making small changes and trying new things can help us take the first steps on a journey to more sustainable lives. We’ve set out a whole series of small things that all of us can and should try that will create a measurable and significant impact on our personal carbon footprint.

For me personally I’m incredibly excited to have the chance to work on a project which has the potential to reach people far beyond the usual suspects who are already taking action. It is only by reaching out to and engaging new people that we’ll actually get the momentum we need to speed up our transition to a greener society and give us a chance to avoid catastrophic damage to our environment.

It was thinking like this that drove me to try giving up meat for a week in the middle of 2008 (Farming for meat being a key driver of emissions – check out our Veg Out Do Action) and I haven’t looked back. Now approaching seven years of Vegging out and I’m still looking for more things to try to make my life more sustainable and to practice what I preach! I’m hopeful that i’ll be able to experience as many of our Do Actions as I can this year so I’ll be able to join the journey of pledgers on our site.

The thinking behind our programme is that we believe it isn’t just question of educating people on what to do to become more sustainable. By this point most people know what they should be doing to be more environmentally friendly. Instead it is about nudging them and putting them in a situation where it is easy for them to try something sustainable through our Do Actions.

Making it a competition in the work environment also helps add extra incentives. Firstly never underestimate the competitive aspect of putting people into teams and giving them the chance to push on and make a few extra pledges to win the office bragging rights. Secondly because your pledge is publicly visible to your colleagues they will be able to see if you are keeping up with your pledge. We’ve also noticed that people often are more open to trying new things together. That could be doing exercise together, shopping for sustainable fruit and veg together or taking the stairs instead of the lift together.

The bit I like best about what we do isn’t necessarily that it saves loads of Carbon (although this is great), it’s an opportunity to reach thousands of people and get them to join us on our journey, challenging ourselves to act in line with what we believe. One of the big things we want to do this year is share what we as a team are doing to make ourselves live more sustainable lives so watch out for the first in our series of blogs on our personal challenges coming up soon. We want to show them that actually a lot of the things we ask people try might will be rewarding beyond their carbon savings; perhaps saving a bit of cash, being healthier or even discovering the delights of vegetarian cooking.

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