Planning your green campaign – first steps for green champions

Behavioural change is often the starting point for new Green Champions. Zero (or very low) cost changes that engage staff and volunteers to reduce energy consumption, waste and water usage can have a massive impact.

At the last Green Knowledge Cafe, Zoe Hanks, Sustainable Business Manager at M4C, revealed that behavioural change can reduce energy consumption by up to 30-40%. However, encouraging people to change their habits and contribute to your efforts isn’t always easy! Nonetheless, the team at M4C are sustainability communications specialists and Zoe had plenty of suggestions for how to begin.

Changing people’s attitudes is very difficult to achieve quickly. Zoe suggested that instead we should focus on their behaviour. New actions can be gradually normalised over time by taking small steps that condition people to act in a certain way. There are 4 steps to changing behaviour:

  1. Tell people what to do! This sounds obvious but is often forgotten. People won’t know to make changes unless you tell them to. The Green Museums will shortly receive posters (opposite) to help with this.
  2. Make the green option the easy option. This can be very simple: move waste paper baskets so they are further away than the recycling bin, place the compost bin next to the kettle, label light switches so it is obvious where they light and which bulbs can be turned off.
  3. Make it normal. In general people want to fit in by behaving in the same way as everyone else. They want to belong as part of something and are influenced by expectations. Demonstrate that everyone else is doing it and more people will join in – for example, spread the word that 90% of people in the office turn off their computer at night or that 7 out of 10 radiators are never set above 18oC.
  4. Take small steps. Ensure that what you are asking people to do is achievable. Start with a few quick wins to inspire buy in for the big changes.

As you work through these steps think about the following tips:

  • Set clear goals and know where you want to be. How will you know when you have succeeded? The Greener Museums group has committed to a target of 20% reduction in energy bills by March 2015. You might also want to focus on energy consumption, carbon footprint, water, recycling etc. Include these measurable targets in your environmental action plan.
  • Feedback should not be undervalued. Create a sense of competition by comparing your reduction to what similar organisations have achieved. Discuss the case studies presented at the Green Knowledge Cafes. Feedback needs to be immediate, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as a sad or smiley face. Some organisations colour code their monitoring statistics; green shows they are doing well whereas red means they are using too much energy. Think of ways to reward people who support your campaign, for example a raffle ticket for turning your computer off at night.
  • Use a range of techniques and tools to ensure your message appeals to different people. These can range from posters and stickers with clear imagery and simple instructions to emails and social media. Don’t re-invent the wheel; where possible use tools that are already available such as team briefings, notice boards or e-updates. Give people the opportunity to suggest their own ideas for improvements. Try and make it fun!

Still stuck for inspiration? Here are a few ideas that might work for you…

Birmingham Museums Trust

A Green Champions team has recently been formed across Birmingham Museums Trust’s 9 sites. Nominations were requested from each site (1 person to represent a smaller museum, 2 at a larger site). The Facilities Manager is also involved. To give a sense of the requirements in addition to their normal duties, each Green Champion has a role description approved by management. The Green Champions have been recruited from across the organisation and include Front of House staff, gallery enablers and curators at different levels of the Trust.

Green Angels

Whereas Green Champions are normally engaged in their role for the longer term, a Green Angel performs a shorter task. Generally it is a role that rotates around an organisation with different teams or individuals acting as Green Angels every 3 months. The rolling programme means that there are constantly fresh ideas and each new angel is keen to improve on what has gone before.


The Victoria & Albert Museum has a Green Champions programme with top level buy-in; the museum’s directors all have a sustainability objective as part of their role. The museum achieved a 20% reduction in its carbon footprint over 4 years (2005-2009), achieved by allowing its green champions (recruited from across the organisation) a set amount of time each year to work towards the reduction.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s