Experts in public health have struggled with enabling behaviour change for years. The sustainability sector should learn what it can from their experiences.
Consumer behaviour change is the challenge of our time. As governments and brands are beginning to realise, upstream improvements are relatively easy to make compared with the herculean task of shifting consumer behaviours downstream. While the sustainability community is just beginning to get to grips with the gravity of this challenge, our colleagues in public health have been wrestling with it for decades. Great progress has been made, but hard lessons have been learned – costly, time-consuming lessons that we can all learn from.
Considered_ seeks to embed social change and sustainability issues into mainstream marketing and creative practice. This is social design operating at scale… this is social design for the other 90%.
Currently the vast majority of the world’s advertising, design and creative talent is siloed in mainstream practice—working on commercial briefs largely antithetical to social and environmental progress. Research shows that they are eager to use their skills to make a positive difference, but lack opportunities to do so.
Working with brands and their agencies on sustainability, I’ve come to realise that our biggest barrier to progress on sustainability isn’t consumer behaviour, political inertia or market structures. It’s something less complicated, more insidious and cruelly ironic. It’s the enemy within: CSR!
That loose collection of terminologies, concepts and examples that has created the illusion of a distinct discipline, detached from the cut-and-thrust of business and brand; that ominous acronym, in many circles synonymous with greenwash, which has facilitated a tick box mentality based on compliance and reputation management.