‘We’re…trying to untangle all the information out there. But people need measures that are meaningful.” There is no greater lesson than something we’ve lived, not just read about. By engaging all the senses and getting attendees to smell, or feel, or see their impact induces the mind to have strong emotional feelings about something, otherwise it has little reality for us. There’s a tendency to preach environmental goodness, or cite catastrophic disaster but the trick is to use more interactive methods of learning. Take the Learning Pyramid over there. Designing opportunities to educate event attendees using the bottom portions of the pyramid are going to have a better chance of producing ongoing, perhaps life-affirming change.
From an event mangers perspective, education can result in cost savings. Imagine you get the message across to one attendee that using the green bins results in composting and less methane emissions, meaning less greenhouse gases and therefore less chance of bushfires. The remainder of the current event and next year’s event now has one less persons waste to separate, resulting in reduced landfill costs and reduced staffing costs. That one attendee may pass on the knowledge to the rest of his/her campsite or friends. By the ‘social contract’ reasoning, that’s potentially another 5 people who use the green bins. It pays to educate!
Micheal Polonsky, chair of marketing at Deakin University say’s our attraction to simple solutions is proving challanging for those of us that want to publicise eco-principals to enact real change. The overwhleming nature of the problem can make it easy for people to stick their heads in the sand. Psychological responses include putting up barriers such as: numbness, apathy, guilt; the belief we’re too small to make a difference; mistrust (of science and government); and the general releuctance to change our habits.
Therefore, for maximum impact without being overwhelming initiatives should:
Focus on local images and issues. A hole in the ozone layer ‘somewhere up there’ has less impact that skin cancer rates in Melbourne
Be personal. How does leaving a lounge in a campsite affect your ticket price next year?
Spark debate or discussion
Provide information that attendees can make sense of eg Did you know that last year’s event produced 46 tonnes of landfill? That’s the same as 46 baby elephants of rubbish that went into the ground.
Engage as many senses as possible
Create social norms through peer pressure
Show instant results
If it is an initiative that is being put in place to make people behave then you either need to make things costless (free cigarette butt containers), too expensive not to behave (mandatory deposit on drinks containers) or have some obvious benefit or ‘carrot'(access to VIP reward room for public transport users)
People are far more likely to embrace new ideas outside of their usual comfort zone. That’s why we believe that events and festivals provide a perfect forum for the uptake of sustainable practices. By combining peer pressure with education we can interact with event attendees in a manner that can instigate change.