Who CARES

February 21, 2019

Say I wanted to get you to use less plastic.

   

The problem is I don’t know you. I don’t know what you do currently or how you feel about plastic pollution.

   

I also don’t know your deeper motivations around the issue. Where’s a Need Map when you need one?

   

Maybe I can build one up. I’ll picture you coming into contact with what others are doing.

   

Let’s start at the heart of the matter. I could imagine you watching Blue Planet II. You’d explore all the wonders of the oceans, from the trenches to the coasts, the coral reefs, the deserts, forests and prairies, and the array of life that inhabits it all.  

 

Then I’d hit you with the final episode. Albatross parents unwittingly feeding their chicks plastic, a whale with a bucket caught in its mouth. 

 

At the end, there’d be Sir David Attenborough talking directly to camera. “The future of all life now depends on us”. The emotional works. The need to feel you care.

 

But we all know the barriers. According to a recent study by Toluna, the majority of us (60.4%) will only take the sustainable route with a product if it’s just as easy to buy and the price is the same. How do I get you to care enough that those barriers can be overcome? 

 

Try another area. What about plastic bags? It’s not really about the 5p anymore, is it? Arriving at a supermarket with your own bags used to look cranky. Now leaving a supermarket with a trolley full of Bags For Life screams “I don’t care”. Who wants to be that person? Affiliation.

 

I could get you to go ‘Naked’. Lush have recently opened its first UK-based store in Manchester with no plastic packaging anywhere to be seen. M&S are trialling ‘Naked’ greetings cards. It’s a small step but a start. Make it a conscious choice. Independence.

 

What would be opposite Independence on the Map? Helping others to care? Like educating your children about plastic toys. When you’re done with them, they go to the charity shop so other children can play with them. Nurturance.

 

What about something that’s familiar to you, something from the past? A return to the glass milk bottle? A feeling that you’re doing the right thing because that’s what you used to do. Reassurance.

 

Or reinvent it. Like LOOP, the new waste-free shopping system. It’s a partnership between Carrefour, UPS, resources management company SUEZ and TerraCycle, a leader in recycling. Unilever are trialling it with nine of their brands. It’s the idea that no business can create a circular economy in isolation. Clever. Discernment. 

 

Or reusable coffee cups. You proudly hand over your biodegradable Ecoffee Cup at Starbucks made of bamboo fibre and smile smugly to yourself about the 25p discount. Status. 

 

Product, product, product. What about something more purposeful? 

 

Like the Schools Strike 4 Climate. How did you feel about that? A spokesperson from Downing Street pointed out that “while it was important for young people to engage with issues like climate change, the disruption to planned lesson time was damaging for pupils”. I disagree. I was cheering them on. Empowerment.

 

Or what about having a bit of harmless fun? That’s the problem with the end of the world, it’s too damn serious. So why not call the NERC polar research ship ‘Boaty McBoatface’? Every child in the World would remember that their whole lives. Freedom.

 

Central need, eight need expressions, diagonals work. Tick, tick, tick.

 

And if I can work out where you are on the Map in a given plastic situation, I stand a better chance of changing your behaviour. I know, as long as I make it easy for you.

 

So about those 13 billion plastic bottles sold each year in the UK...

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