I started becoming “a green mom” in 2006. In an often told story about my son’s food allergies, I began reading labels and realizing how much junk was in food, from various dyes to chemicals. Then he got lead poisoning from construction next door and I needed to understand indoor air quality. Then we bought a home and decided to do a “green renovation,” following brand new LEED for Homes guidelines.
My journey to Live Good
As I embarked on this journey to change our daily choices, habits and home, I wasn’t particularly motivated then by a seemingly far off, scary, and hard to conceptualize global phenomenon called climate change [author’s note: that’s highly motivating now!]. Instead, I was motivated because Thomas the Tank Engine was a source of lead, flame retardants were ubiquitous in kids' jammies and bedding and seemingly toxic, and the red dye and sodium benzoate in his yogurt was linked to hyperactivity. So, I went back to grad school in sustainable design because it was the closest degree to sustainable living. Plus, it would help with the house project. I also started a blog, called Practically Green: a Guide for Going Green without Going Bezerk, because I was getting many emails from friends asking for advice.
Early pioneers were Green Moms
Much of what I learned at that time was from amazing other “green moms” writing about related topics, like Zem Joaquin from EcoFabulous, Robyn O’Brien who wrote about food and allergies, Beth Terry who documented trying to live plastic free, Diane McEachern who focused on the financial savings of eco-living, and Laurie David who produced incredible documentaries and wrote books encouraging family dinners and vegetarian meals. Eventually, it led me to start WeSpire, which initially focused on helping people change their everyday life through a consumer app. It was like WeightWatchers for green living.
Since then, I have learned that my values vis-a-vis sustainable living are relatively common and fit a characteristic profile, not surprisingly called “Pioneers”. One of six values-based archetypes and the primary one that the vast majority of environmental marketing appeals to. You can take this super quick, fun quiz to find out yours.
If you look back over the last 20 years of environmental marketing and programs, as brands and change agents, we’ve sorely neglected to appeal to all profiles. We often use one-size-fits-all tactics, including overwhelming lists like “100 ways to save the environment”, doom and gloom language, or pictures of turtles with plastic in their nostrils, sad polar bears or pictures of clearcutting. That works for some, but it doesn’t galvanize most. Practically Green used targeting to recommend actions based on where people were in their journey, from barely green to wicked green. But we never adjusted our language or actions for a person’s values.
Introducing Live Good
That’s why I’m really excited about a new program that debuted last week called Live Good. Live Good was developed by Futerra, a global communications agency that specializes in sustainable behavior change, Brands for Good (a consortium that includes P&G, Target, Mastercard, PepsiCo, Johnson & Johnson, and 10 other large brands) and WeSpire. Not only does it help you find out what values connect you to sustainable choices, it then enables you to join a community of people just like you to take action as well. Over time, the program hopes to help you transform the way you are living to be more sustainable, but at your own pace and in a personalized, adaptable, inclusive and positive way.
An important aspect of the program is that it focuses on 9 behaviors that matter most across three categories: climate, resources and resilient societies. But the content is written and designed specifically to appeal to each values-based cohort in a unique way. So if you are a realist, the focus is on ease, tangible benefits, and self-reliance. If you are an energizer, the actions use hipper language and offer opportunities for trying new things and peer recognition.
The program is in early beta and we will learn a lot over the next six months. But if all the research around the importance of leveraging existing values to drive culture change holds up, this program could be an incredible way for brands and companies to reach everyone in an accessible, relevant, motivating and impactful way.