“When I came into sustainability and realized that it wasn’t just about trees and offset that there was a lot more and it was about behavior change, it really excited me because it’s possible.” – Richard Dickson, Co-Founder of Play it Green.
In this episode of EnvironMental with Dandelion, we spoke with Richard Dickson about how climate action starts with education, behavior change, and the changing landscape of business in the age of transparency.
Behavior Change for Climate Change
Every sustainability advocate will tell you how frustrating it is that the conversation around climate change falls on the individual to make changes. The idea that businesses and governments will continue to move at a snail’s pace because there isn’t enough sustainable demand from the majority is a lazy cop out. But it remains a pervasive message because there are aspects of truth in it.
The truth is, we do need widespread behavior change if we want to have real headway towards a more regenerative future. The lie is that it takes a majority to start that change. In reality, sustainability advocacy taken up by one brave person within a business can have a profound impact on the business and the community around it. Advocacy done right sparks curiosity, and leads curious people to learn. To educate themselves about their own impact, and the impact their companies have – businesses and governments should be at the forefront of sustainable change – not waiting for demand.
Using Our Evolution to Save the Planet
But we also can’t stop at education. Humans are very, very good at knowing stuff. We excel at understanding a problem, and then compartmentalizing the behavior that causes the problem. We evolved to think myopically, own everything, and create enemies out of other people/species that use the same resources that we do. These traits have gotten us far on our little blue planet. We’re at the top of the food chain, we have developed tools to achieve safety from animals bigger and stronger than us. We can fight off any predator, see in the dark hours, travel faster than a cheetah, fly with birds, and swim with fish. These are unsustainable and problematic now, of course, but each invention gave humans an advantage to keep our species alive.
Those evolutionary survival instincts don’t just go away when a problem is solved. The drive to survive better, to build bigger, and grow stronger lives inside of us. So when we talk about “behavior change for climate change” we are really asking people to recognize and turn away from the very basic survival instincts that got us to where we are today. That is a challenge – until you look at it as an opportunity.
In a very real sense, we are back to fighting for our survival. And what do we need to do? Well to put it into words from Richard and Play It Green: Reduce, Repair, Regive.
Behavior Change in Business
Businesses should be at the forefront of the transition. And not just because it’s good for business, but because businesses can have the largest impact. In an un-nuanced and very basic sense, industry is how we got here. The Earth doesn’t charge for her resources, so businesses with the means to exploit them, did. The rhetoric is that the “energy companies” knew decades ago that they were damaging our home beyond repair and they buried the information. They procrastinated and pushed the problem onto future generations. (The now)
But it wasn’t “the energy companies” was it? No. It was powerful individuals within those companies that called the shots.
And still, when it comes to sustainability initiatives in business those same CEOs and business owners ask, “what’s in it for me?”
We think Richard said it best: “Five years ago it would’ve been, ‘well just doing the right thing.’ Whereas now you can say, ‘well actually if you want to stay relevant as a brand, as a business, if you want to grow, you have to change your business process and be transparent. You’re going to have to embrace sustainability. And that doesn’t just mean your footprint, that means how you treat your staff.”
This isn’t a coincidence. It’s because there are brave individuals standing up and saying, “sustainability is important” in their place of business. They’re playing their role and changing the behavior of businesses by saying, “sustainability is our competitive edge.”
How Play It Green Changes Behavior Towards Sustainability
Mindset and behavior change is a huge part of Play It Green. Richard creates very consistent good news articles that teach about sustainability and helps people stay optimistic in these weird times. Every member of the Play It Green platform has access to an educational dashboard with modules of specific information about how people can take steps towards lowering their carbon footprint.
Play It Green isn’t just education (remember that’s only the first step) they also make action a priority! Their tangible difference comes through helping people and businesses reduce their overall carbon footprint, plant trees to balance the footprint, and give 10% of their revenue to a social impact business.
To learn more about Play It Green, check out their website: https://playitgreen.com/
And go connect with Richard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardiandickson/