This post was originally published by MAD Challenges. We think it’s pretty great.
#my_handprint is a series by MAD Challenges, talking about all the things we can do to help the environment, not stopping at despairing over all the ways our carbon footprint harms it. In this episode, meet Robbie Sutherland. He raised 107 carbon reducing pledges from 37 sponsors, earning the title of Doer of the Month for June. Read on for his thoughts on his challenge, the Mad Seat, and sustainability:
“I found collecting Do Nation sponsorship to be far more enjoyable and less intrusive than asking people to part with actual cash. I suppose that comes from my own reluctance to request money for doing something that I would take part in for fun anyway, but I definitely found it easier to approach people without that intent. In pledging to change an action, a behaviour or a habit, the sponsor is themselves taking on a challenge, therefore are far more connected to the event itself than handing over some coins and forgetting about the reason why they did it.
I somehow managed to scrape together 107 pledges from a total of 37 pledgers, taking the top spot so far for MAD Seat’s 2018 campaign! I’m amazed I got such a response but honestly believe it’s because the issues raised are something that we are all directly responsible for, and cannot deny or ignore. By showing people via the pledging format that real options to their current actions and habits exist, and which are easy to implement and maintain (on paper, at least!), then they are forced to question their own behaviours and that of our society in general.
I haven’t been in contact with all my sponsors (I didn’t even know them all! -hint- for future pledge-raising, making any social media posts “public” so friends’ of friends’ can share your campaign; it’s a winner!) but those I have are really getting in to it! Not only are they sticking-to (as best as they can) their pledges, but they are far more aware of how their other actions also impact our sustainability. Many of the pledges were health-based, and as my sponsors have turned these pledges in to actions, their health and well being has noticeably improved, which I’ve been told has brought about further questioning and conversation surrounding other areas in their lives which could also benefit from subtle changes. For example, a pledge to walk to the shop rather than take the car, has resulted in feeling healthier, more energetic, which in turn has caused a change in diet; eating less sweets, snacks and processed foods. All from simply thinking and talking about sustainability. It’s really inspiring!
I wish more people knew that in our throw-away society, there is no such place as “away”. Everything has to go somewhere, whether that’s recycled in to something else, or dumped in the ocean. Recycling of course, is great, as materials are re-used, but this comes at a cost in terms of energy and other resources. We don’t just need to step away from the use of non-recyclable materials, but ALL single-use items, such as plastic films, bags and polystyrene packaging.
I believe the only way to achieve this, and other positive changes, is through continual discussion and education, showing people that their individual behaviours and choices have an often negative reaction, not always apparent at the time. In a sense, we are disconnected from our environment, but by being more technologically connected than ever before, we can easily raise awareness of the issues affecting our sustainability, and hopefully bring about large scale change before it’s too late.”