How do we go about changing attitudes and encouraging people to make change?

11.05.11 B&Q Blog from N.Y

At yesterday's One Planet Homes and One Planet Food side event, for me, Sarala Gopalan from the World Farmers Organisation’s gave a fabulous example of quasi-One Planet Programmes and development in action. She set out how simple interventions like examining local diets in India and re-introducing people to the concepts of boiling drinking water and growing vegetables for their own consumption (rather than sale) effectively addressed the major nutritional challenges of diarrhoea and anaemia. But the difficulty the programme is experiencing is in finding a way to share its learnings with everyone who could benefit from them. And this perfectly illustrated the challenge we face in achieving one planet living – it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive and it should be desirable – but the messages need to get out to an enormous range of people, and attitudes and habits need to shift.

Several people asked me about how we go about changing attitudes and encouraging people to make change. At B&Q we are focusing on making One Planet Homes desirable, and on making the better choice easier.  The more we work on this the more we find that this approach works.  Sometimes we find that selling ALL the benefits like the fact that energy efficient homes are warmer, cheaper to run and more comfortable is most effective. Or it may be showcasing beautiful, effective products that meet sustainability objectives and people’s aspirational aims simultaneously. 

Sometimes it’s about identifying and finding ways to overcome the barriers to change – like addressing the price or skills barriers as we are doing in our Pay As You Save (PAYS) home retrofit trials in Sutton or our new DIY classes which have had great take-up and a brilliant reaction.  Whilst in other situations we have found that making the sustainable choice the easiest is by editing out the alternatives – like we have done with our sustainable timber programme where we only sell responsibly sourced timber products, is the best way forward.  Whichever approach we adopt, in the end we consistently find that the most powerful opportunity is when people share their own experiences with their friends, colleagues and contacts.

Rachel Bradley, B&Q

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