‘Do the Green Thing’ is an experiment in changing social behaviour through the use of social media. The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions by doing ‘green things’, and then sharing and displaying your green activity to encourage your peers to follow suit. Headshift built the vertical social network for ‘the Green Thing’ based on the core idea that behavioural change must come from the bottom up. So go on… make a difference – do the green thing!
Building a community that helps people help the environment
To make people change their behaviour from the top down is hard work. Yet many would be willing to change if the right impulse came along and gave them a push to do something they deep down think is worthwhile.
The Green Thing aims at becoming exactly such a friendly impulse by letting groups of people influence each other to take action. When the monthly ‘green actions’ are performed they are immediately displayed to the closest peers, but also to the wider community. This ‘peer pressure engine’ is designed to be as fun, playful and personal as possible. Doing the Green Thing should be associated with a feeling of having done something good, both for oneself and for a wider group. Beyond doing the actual green thing this can be done as a comic gesture by uploading an entertaining photo, a piece of audio, or a video, or through a more substantial piece of information posted in these formats, or on the blog and wiki.
Getting involved by sharing stories, insights and real life actions
A large part of the Green Thing is dedicated to aggregating information about the ways in which one can reduce CO2 emissions. These take the shape of aggregated links, tags, blog-posts, audio-clips, videos and photos, as well as longer and more technical pieces of writing or statistical table on the wiki.
The Green Thing site also works as an information and organisational hub for social events and public ‘Green actions’. These are then often documented and fed back into the community as stories, photos and videos.
Social media sustains social initiative
The social media tools incorporated into The Green Thing all serve the purpose of creating and supporting active and vibrant social initiatives. Headshift built a platform that includes nearly all the social tools available at the time of launch, ranging from the backbone wiki, to the public group blog, to aggregated meta-data, and all the aggregated audio-visual materials.
The tools are there to be used for a purpose, and ultimately sustain a wider important social agenda.
The Green Thing has shown that the right type of peer pressure, or encouragement, really gets important things done.