There are a lot of websites attempting to make the world more “green” by changing individual behavior. These companies use a number of different methods to accomplish this, such as carbon footprint calculators (CarbonFund.org), simulation games (ClimateCulture.com) or mapping tools (LocalHarvest.org). They all have one thing in common: they require the user to keep using them, to keep coming back.
Making your life more eco-efficient is kind of like losing weight: you have to stay motivated until you start to see results. If you are not seeing results, you are likely to get discouraged and eat the next doughnut that comes along. When that happens, you need someone to remind you to get back on track. When it comes to sustainability, Going Green Today wants to be your personal sustainability coach.
The mission of Going Green Today is simple: get 35% of the U.S. population to make lifestyle changes: “Why 35%?: If 35% of the U.S. population participates in the GGT green coaching program, we can reduce our nation’s emissions to the levels the Kyoto protocols asked for without government and big business.”
But the company actually takes it one step further than that: 50% of the $29 enrollment fee is donated to organizations working to stop global warming. What do you get for $29? The company promises that, if you complete the coaching program, you will save at least $2000 dollars this year. Recipients of the donated funds currently include organizations like the Rocky Mountain Institute, Conservation International, The NRDC, Co-Op America and The Gifford Pinchot Task Force. Customers get to choose which organization their fees go to.
GGT’s philosophy is that you don’t need to change everything to make a difference in your environmental footprint. You only have to change a little bit. The company helps customers figure out what they need to change, and then guides them through the process.After creating an account, you are guided through an extensive lifestyle survey, with the now-familiar questions about driving distance, lightbulb density, etc. The result is your customized action plan, and you are asked whether you would like to complete your plan in 30, 60 or 90 days.
You can opt to receive daily emails that remind you to view your personal profile page, which allows you to view statistics on what you have accomplished so far, along with daily, weekly and full views of the plan.
The most important page is “Today’s Action,” where you will see one or two simple actions that you can complete that day, along with some background information on why you should do it, and how much you will save. As you complete each task, you check off appropriate box, and you will see your savings tally go up.
I signed up a few days ago, and my first task was titled “Neighborhood Knowing,” which encouraged me to go to WalkScore.com to get the Walk Score for my neighborhood as my first task (unfortunately for me, this only depressed me, because my walk score is 14 out of 100, which means that I can’t walk to anything, something I already knew). This week’s remaining tasks include “Hit the Co-Op,” “Bulk Up” (buying in bulk), “Seasonal Offerings,” “Coffee Without the Waste” and “In and Out” (using less water).
I think that Going Green’s approach will ultimately work, because it does not overwhelm you with too many things all at once. The reminders keep you involved with the process, and have you do a little bit each day. Like the Japanese philosophy of “kaizen” or constant improvement, small changes, consistently implemented, can add up to a lot.
Steve Puma is a sustainability and strategy consultant and technologist. He currently writes for 3p as well as on his personal blog, ThePumaBlog.com, about the intersection of sustainability, technology, innovation, and the future. Steve holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio School of Management and a BA in Computer Science from Rutgers University. You can contact Steve through email or LinkedIn, or follow him on twitter.