What happened when Asda challenged its employees to go green?

This is a guest post by Sarah Belmont, Corporate Sustainability Manager at Asda.

Inspired by Asda’s involvement in the Green Living Consortium, and in particular by the ethnographic research in Bringing it Home, this spring Asda devised a Sustainability Challenge, which has just come to an end.

Four colleagues from across Asda (Stores, Depots and Asda House) took part over four weeks with the aim of lowering their household carbon footprints. They did this by reducing their waste, energy, car and water use, and by using more environmentally-preferable products. They video blogged as they went along on the Asda Green Room – you can see some highlights in the compilation video above.

The challenge has closed and we’d just like to say a massive ‘well done’ to Louise, David, Edwina and Lynne as, in just one month, they reduced their families’ carbon footprints significantly – the lowest was 14% and the largest reduction was a massive 37%. A special congratulation goes to Louise for making the biggest reductions and also for winning the overall challenge.

What was really exciting about the Challenge is that our colleagues became so enthusiastic that they in turn engaged other colleagues around them on what they were doing. They really showed that being green brings tangible benefits – saving money, eating better and reducing chemicals – and should absolutely not be the preserve of a few ‘tree huggers’ but something everyone can benefit from. In some cases the message was spread even wider to local schools and community groups.

We hoped that the challenge would be a success but what has really taken us by surprise is the passion that our colleagues gained through taking part or even by knowing someone taking part. Those of you who read Julian’s AisleSpy blog regularly know that we’re passionate about helping people lead better lives and saving money whilst reducing their impact on the environment. This challenge showed how important – and critically how achievable – this is.

Through this snapshot of ‘green living’, it’s possible to draw some wider implications on behaviour change in the arena of environment and sustainability. For example, it’s important to make green living visible and make it normal. This supports the work done by the Green Living theme in year 1 – Hot Air to Happy Endings, and also by Futerra’s Sell the Sizzle.

It’s also been crucial to add a competitive element to the proceedings – by calling it a Challenge, and by having personal incentives. Another learning has been to choose your messenger wisely – by blogging about their experiences our colleagues have engaged other colleagues, as being green is seen to be normal and to fit into everyday life. Much better than too much face-time from the Corporate Sustainability Team…

Don’t take it from me though; take it from the colleagues themselves:

The Challenge has ‘really changed our family’s approach to sustainability’ Louise

I was surprised how actually easy it was to do some of the things that made a difference’ Edwina

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