Interview with a Doer: Paul McLaughlin

Paul McLaughlin Futsal

Paul McLaughlin is Secretary at the Edinburgh University Futsal Club, and recently led a phenomenally successful campaign to encourage club members and friends to make pledges as part of the Do Edinburgh challenge – raising 525 pledges in one month!  Here he shares the story behind creating this whopping impact.

What were you raising pledges for?

We were raising pledges throughout February relating to the Do Edinburgh Sustainability campaign. The pledges all revolved around making changes to your everyday lifestyle to make the world more sustainable. These include using reusable coffee cups and committing to changing your energy supplier to help the environment in small ways.  

The Futsal club decided to take part in response to a presentation we observed discussing the campaign and the benefits of the pledges. The campaign involved participants pledging up to 4 different tasks to tailor their habits in a more sustainable way.

The enthusiasm of all the volunteers was a major factor on why we got on board with the concept to help the environment.

Futsal and Sustainability – not necessarily the most obvious combination. Have you got a history as a society of taking action for the environment?

Futsal 2nd & 3rd Team

The club was only established in 2015 but we are dedicated to giving back to the community and the wider world. We have a partnership with Bala Sport who create fair trade sports balls who give fair wages to workers who supply the Futsal balls to our 3 teams.

After making the most pledges, Futsal are now committed to making changes in our everyday operations to become a sustainable sport club at the University. We are actively searching to work with organisations and projects with a sustainable ethos and other goals which has admirable aims.

How did you encourage so many people to make pledges?

As a club with a passion for creating bridges with as many worthwhile individuals and organisations, we have a far outreach in various avenues. Although we are a club with under 30 members, many friends and family members of the club engaged with the campaign which allowed more word of mouth and social media reach.

With the ease of the pledging system and the lack of financial investment from participants, more and more became eager to help out both the Futsal Club and the overall campaign in general.

Did you make any pledges yourself – and if so, how are they going?

I am currently undertaking 4 pledges – all are going well but are not without some hiccups. I purchased a reusable coffee cup but there were times where I forgot to bring it to university and purchased a coffee.

The pledges give you more awareness on how your actions impact the overall environment.  My other pledges are going well with bringing a carrier bag to supermarkets, using a reusable water bottle and turning lights off at home.

What was the most surprising or exciting pledge someone made?

Some participants committed to change energy suppliers to ones who use green energy. Changing this can save roughly 258kg of CO2, so some people decided to change this to help the environment in a bigger way compared to smaller pledges such as reusable cups and bags.

Changing suppliers only took the members a few minutes and although the cost is the same as non green energy suppliers, the sustainable impact drove the individuals to make the change.

Have you noticed any wider outcomes from the campaign?

The community we have created through the campaign far exceeded our expectations prior to the start of the month. The reach we created to expose both our club and the vision of Do Edinburgh in their sustainability campaign was fantastic and seeing individuals from different sports and demographics allowed the month to be both interesting and enlightening.

Finally – any top tips you’d share with someone else raising support on Do Nation?

Social media is the most powerful tool for any campaigns and Do Nation is no different. Creating a pledge system which is simplistic and encouraging for the participants to take part in is key to create the most engaging system.

The experience of allowing individuals who did not have knowledge before the campaign to be more competent to create challenges is something that is the most rewarding.

Thanks Paul – we’re super impressed by your impact and are excited to see where the Men’s Futsal Club’s sustainability journey goes from here. 

You can create a campaign like Paul’s in minutes, just fill in this short form.

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