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Creating Change: The Fostering Sustainable Behavior Workshop

| Monday October 12th, 2009 | 1 Comment

FosteringSustainableBehaviorBy Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact

We all know that a key to creating a greener future is to foster more sustainable behavior at work and in our lives.  Be it a green team working to increase recycling rates or reduce paper waste or a corporate sustainability officer working to reduce a carbon footprint, a key challenge is how to encourage changes in our decisions and actions. But we also know that change is not always easy to foster.

To date, most programs to achieve green changes have relied upon disseminating information. Research demonstrates, however, that simply providing information has little or no effect on what individuals or businesses do. But if not ads, brochures or booklets, then what?

Over the last two decades a new approach, community-based social marketing, has emerged as an effective alternative for promoting sustainable behavior.

Years ago I took a workshop with Canadian environmental psychologist Doug McKenzie-Mohr, the guru of community based social marketing and author of Fostering Sustainable Behavior (now available as a free on-line book). It was a very practical workshop full of case studies and tips for how to create a campaign that will truly foster changes in behavior.

While his book was published years ago, many of the concepts are still applicable today.

The book explains, “Community-based social marketing draws heavily on research in social psychology which indicates that initiatives to promote behavior change are often most effective when they are carried out at the community level and involve direct contact with people.”

And while many of the case studies are in the public sector, the principles (commitment, prompts, norms, communication, incentives and making it easy) are very applicable to corporate sustainability programs and green teams.

McKenzi-Mohr will be delivering his two-day introductory Fostering Sustainable Behavior workshop in Portland November 2-3 and in San Francisco November 4-5.  Here is the link for registration information.

To a get a better sense of his work, you can check out his web site that includes articles, case studies and strategies.

According to the flier for the workshop, “This two-day workshop provides a comprehensive introduction to community-based social marketing and how it is being applied throughout the world to foster sustainable behavior. Those who attend the workshop will learn the five steps of community-based social marketing (selecting behaviors, identifying barriers, developing strategies, conducting pilots, and broad scale implementation) and be exposed to numerous case studies illustrating its use.”

Who Should Attend?

If you design or fund programs to encourage individuals or businesses to engage in environmentally beneficial behaviors — such as those involved in waste reduction, water and energy efficiency, watershed and habitat protection, pollution prevention or transportation changes — you will find these workshops invaluable. The workshops will also be useful for environmental education professionals who work in settings such as zoos, aquariums and parks. Public health professionals who work to foster sustainable lifestyle changes, such as being more active, will also benefit from attending.


Deborah Fleischer is founder and president of Green Impact, a strategic environmental consulting practice that helps companies strengthen their relationships with stakeholders, develop profitable green initiatives and communicate their successes and challenges. She is a LEED AP with a Master in Environmental Studies from Yale University and over 20-years of direct experience working on sustainability-related challenges in both the public and private sectors. She brings deep expertise in sustainability strategy, stakeholder engagement, program development and written communications. In addition to her own blog Shades of Green, she writes for some of the top green business web sites, including www.greenbiz.com, www.triplepundit.com and www.matternetwork.com.

You can follow her occasional tweet @GreenImpact or contact her directly at Deborah@greenimpact.com.

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