fun CAN save the planet!

Launching today, a report into the findings of a ground-breaking research study that has proved we really can play our way to a more sustainable future. Our ‘eco gamers’ have already saved half a tonne of carbon emissions each with another half tonne of savings planned.

Dr Paula Owen, a GLA/ London Sustainable Development Commission London Leader 2012/13, has today launched her findings from a year’s worth of research into a novel, fun approach to getting people engaged in environmental actions.

Throughout the year Paula and her team have been running ‘eco fun & games’ events for hundreds of people in venues as varied as the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, the WI, Age UK care homes, schools, universities, the London Fire Brigade and at festivals, to test out the theory that we can persuade people to living more sustainably through fun.

The results are very encouraging. Over half, 51% of all participants stated they were going to adopt new actions as a result of attending the event and the typical number of new actions pledged was three. Over 90% of all attendees enjoyed the events and the games they played. Two thirds learnt something new and useful about environmental actions they could adopt that they would take back to their homes and offices. In the follow-up surveys, undertaken some months after the events, all respondents reported they had already taken action and that the average number had increased to four, with another two in the planning.

On average, each respondent had saved around half a tonne of carbon emissions through the actions they had already taken. If they went on to complete their extra planned actions, the average saving by each attendee would be over one tonne of carbon dioxide each year.  If every household in the land became ‘eco gamers’ the collective saving could top 65 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

Paula said “We have to move away from the ‘doom & gloom’, misery messaging communication style that has dogged the environmental movement in the past.  We have patently failed to engage and win the hearts and minds of the general population.

If we are to have any chance to stop some of the worst excesses of climatic change over this century we need everyone to play their part, however small that part may be. Our new approach to communication and engagement, using the medium of social games and fun instead of finger-wagging and guilt-tripping, is proving itself to be a powerful tool in the armoury of environmental educators.”

LSDC Commission Ed Gillespie said the Fun and Games to Save the Planet research was a fun way of engaging people in serious issues such as climate change.

He said: “Games don’t just make learning fun; they are often very effective ways of subtly changing attitudes and behaviours.

Play is, has and always will be part of human nature. If London is to retain its position as one of the greenest capital cities in the world what better way to do it than by enjoying ourselves at the same time.”