It’s hard to be green -Why green design to be the default option and how to do it

The following outlines how complexity can hinder good environmental actions, and how you as an environmental planner or product manufacturer can overcome it. And yes, I am going somewhere with the coffee story.

 

Hi, my name is Mona and I’m a coffee addict.

Seeing as it’s one of my only vises in life, I don’t really mind it. But it does mean that I am not a functional human being without my morning Joe, and that is what prompted today’s post.

 

I’m currently staying with some friends who are very techy. Their house is filled with robots, drones, and really cool gadgets. As well, their coffee maker is really advanced, you know the kind that has an inbuilt alarm so it can have the coffee ready for you before you’re out of bed. It also has an inbuilt grinder so you can get fresh coffee. Amazing, right? Wrong!

The darn thing never works, and in its effort to be as simple as possible, it only has one on/off button and a nob that also works as a button. This morning I spend 15 minutes trying to get it to grind the beans. 15! I’m not gonna brand shame so I won’t tell you the name of the coffee machine.

There were just too few buttons and no matter what I pushed, or in which order, it didn’t work. In the end, I gave up. I sat defeated and ate my breakfast with a glass of water.

 

 

Why am I telling you this? Because green design matters.

 

Because a coffee maker that’s too complicated to operate is a spot-on example of how our world is way more complicated than it needs to be.

And the same goes for acting environmentally friendly.

If you live in a westernized country or the metropolises of high-tech South East Asia, you probably have some sort of waste management and recycling scheme.

Those schemes have rules, and those rules are often really complicated and with a large set of exceptions. This is because of technical requirements from the waste treatment facilities. It makes recycling confusing for us mortals who just want to know how to sort our waste in the right way.

 

Likewise, if you’re gonna purchase a new car, and you want to get one that is environmentally friendly, what do you get? One with good mileage? An electric? A used car? Which is better? The answer is the same, ‘Well it depends…’

But we don’t want to dig into why there are so many differences in regards to buying an environmentally friendly car, we just want the answer: What is the best car I can buy if I care about the environment?

 

Acting environmentally friendly can be hard and complicated because our world is unnecessarily complicated.

If you promoting a greener behavior, or selling a green product, it is your job to make it as easy as possible for your audience/consumer, to do the right thing.

 

How to make sustainable products or services

 

Seeing as I still haven’t had coffee yet, I’ll give you the bare minimum.

Test it! Then test it. And then test it again.

If you’re asking someone to act in a different way, you need to test if what you are asking them is sufficiently easy and understandable. Test your message or product over and over until you have made it as approachable as possible.

 

I call this the Grandma Test.

Green Design How To

Edit (06.08.18): I was actually meeting my grandma after writing this, so I took the opportunity to put a face to the concept. Here she is.

If I can explain something in a way that even my stubborn, 82-year-old grandma gets it, then I’m on to something.

My formal education is Technological Socio-Economical Planner.

 

That fails the grandma test massively. Therefore I and most of my old uni buddies boil it down to the essence: Environmental Planner. Or as grandma says, ‘Something with environment.’

 

This is where the discussion of dumbing down usually comes up. I will say this until I am in my grave:

It’s not about dumbing down, it’s about removing unnecessary complexity.

I’m not a stupid person, nor am I a tech illiterate, but I’ll remind you that I battled the coffee maker for 15 minutes, and lost!

That’s what happens when things get too fancy.

 

Maybe when I have had my coffee, I’ll write the post about why humans always make things more complicated and what it means for our environment, and society as a whole.

 

For now, I highly advise you that whatever change you want to make in the world, you make sure that your actions are easy to follow and that you keep your instructions clear.

And on that note, I’m gonna dig out the old school Italian espresso maker, because that never fails me.

Want more caffeinated advice on pro-environmental behavior? Add me on LinkedIn or go to Somethinggreen.org to get your dose.

Just the tip – How recycling and other low impact actions open big doors for important change

A few posts ago, I wrote about how I sometimes felt like a whore because of my work, but it seems only fair to share the good stories as well.

 

Today my body shivered with excitement, my mind raced, and my heart was pounding. I was getting that feeling that you get when you do something worth wild. That feeling that makes you want to scream, yes!

 

What caused this excitement? Hearing people talk about the plastic wrapping on a cucumber. Now, I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no, you dirty minded person, you.

 

The background story – why plastic wrapping on a cucumber is very exciting

I work with waste management, and it’s my job to get about 90.000 people to recycle their waste. Talk about pressure. As part of this job, my team and I have just done a test with 250 households, to try out the new recycling scheme we’re implementing for those 90.000 people in the time span of the next two years.

 

We did this to make the transition for the entire municipality as smooth as possible for everyone involved. It’s a big process and a lot of things can go wrong, so we wanted to prepare as much as possible before the actual BIG implementation of the new scheme.

 

Now the six-month-long test has been completed, and the past two nights have been spent on meetings with the involved citizens, gathering the final information, and talking about what will be happening over the next few years.

 

So imagine this: 250 households have been sorting their waste in a matter very different from what they are used to, and from what the rest of the municipality is doing. They’ve been doing this for six months, with only a handful of people in the municipality, to guide them through it.

 

Most of them have had to deal with the inconveniences of getting new waste bins, both inside and outside their house, as they had to sort glass, metal, paper, bio/green, and other. Metal and Bio are two completely new fractions of waste, and the citizens in the test have never done this before.

 

Hence these meetings, held in the late hours of busy people, where not only a place for feedback and questions about recycling but also served as a place to vent emotions. And there was a lot of venting. But there was also something profoundly beautiful.

 

No, recycling won’t save the planet, but it will get you thinking about it

 

The people at the meeting have now been sorting their waste for half a year. They have done a decent job a recycling, the short timespan taken into account. But the actual change is not in their litter bins – it’s in their minds.

 

At both meetings I overheard people debating, how much packaging came with their groceries, how much waste they produced in their everyday life, and how many recourses they used.

 

“Why is there even plastic wrapping around a cucumber? I mean, do we really need all that plastic?”

 

This is what makes me tick. It’s not about the recycling, it’s not about turning off the tab, or switching off the light bulb, cause in the big picture, that’s really not a lot of change. But if you do it right, these non-essential, non-effectful environmental actions open the door for a change in mindset.

 

If you do it with intent, you can start a much more important change, than just a change in their trash bin.

You can make the change from unaware to aware, and ready to take action.

 

Plant the seed and be ready to water it

If you plan for this you can have an alternative action ready at the right moment.

In the case of the added awareness about packaging and unnecessary waste, be ready to offer kind and helpful advice on how to cut down on packaging in general for instance by shopping at farmers markets and using reusable grocery bags. Or ask the person more about how much of their waste they think is possible to eliminate and how, as this will get them thinking about alternative actions within their own frame of reference and comfort.

If you plan for these moments of added awareness, you can have valuable tools ready for your audience, and help them make that change they so deeply want to make, but don’t yet know how to.

 

You don’t need to force your way through mindsets, you can start with, well… Just the tip.

You’re not paranoid if it’s actually happening – How a hand full of players are putting the world, and you, at risk

In the past few months, there have been 3 big stories, that will make your head spin.

They are not all directly related to climate change, but they change the world in similar ways and are symptoms of a disease-ridden system that we need to change if we want a chance at stopping a global climate crisis.

We really need a change in the way we monitor global industries and sectors, as a few big players are cashing in while putting the rest of the world in mortal danger –yes, mortal.

 

Don’t worry, I have easy steps for you at the end of the post.

 

So let just jump right in and look at the 3 culprits.

1) A fertilizer cartel sparked the 2008 food crisis, pushing 44million people into poverty.

2) Exxon mobile kept its data on the fossil fuel-climate change link secret for 30 years, lobbying against the academic research which supported the fact, that global climate change is a) real, and b) linked to fossil fuels.

3) The sugar industry lobbied against the research linking a high carbohydrate intake (a Mc-Diet, if you will) to diabetes, heart decided, cardiovascular decease and more.

 

This is why we can’t have nice things. We have a world full of people trying to do good and change the world for the better. And then we have a few corporations, and industries bring positive development to a halt.

They have investors and their sole purpose in the world is to make money. But you know what, you can make money without lying, without pushing millions into poverty, without covering up vital health information, and most importantly, without almost killing off all life on earth.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m a bit angry with these industries. While writing this, I thought to myself;

Damn, this can’t be true. Am I exaggerating?

Unfortunately no, this is not something I made up. This is actually happening. Like I said, you’re not paranoid if it’s actually happening. But it really does sound more like the plot of a movie, than real life.

 

So the world sucks, why does it matter?

Well, of course, we should prevent our industries from killing us, that goes without saying, but there’s more to it.

In a world where 44 million people can be pushed into poverty, and the world can suffer a global food crisis, because of a fertilizer cartel, many of the political, and financial incentives of making the world better doesn’t mean diddly-squat. Things like securing emission reduction and imposing anti-pollution legislation become wishful thinking.

We need to create a system of finance, and of governance, where the above is not possible. Where money does not trump human lives, and the future of our planet. This should not be wishful thinking.

 

It is not too much to ask, that the industries who power our homes, farm our soils, and produce our food, don’t kill us.

 

What can you do? Small, Medium, or Big step?

Taking action doesn’t need to be excruciating, and about saving the world all at once. Every action matters, and we all give what we can. Even if you can just take a small step, it’s still a step. It’s still something you did to change the situation. Well done, you!

Small step: Get educated – read the above articles

Medium step: Vote for a party, or candidate, that takes action on these issues (I Fucking Love Science agrees with me on this one)

Big step: Find an organization that actively works against the above mentioned, and get involved

 

Kickstarter-logo

Kickstarting the future – The role of crowdfunding in green tech

The following is a short post about the role of crowdfunding in sustainable innovation.

 

A few weeks back, I shared a post about this Kickstarter project, about the world’s first mass produced edible cutlery on Linked-in. Seeing it reach its goal makes my heart overflow with joy. Imagine eating your favorite fast food dish, and then just eating the spoon?!

If successful, this product will eliminate the need for plastic utensils. Click it, you know you want to.

A new driver for green innovation

Research funding is a term generally covering any funding for scientific research and technology.

Currently research and development, or R&D, is primarily conducted by corporations. This accounts for two thirds of tech- research, with an additional 20% of research carried out by Universities, and 10% by government.moon-landing

 

Don’t be fooled by the apparent insignificance of governmental funding. Remember, mankind went to space, and then to the moon. Both were government funded projects.

 

Historically, Denmark has been a country keen on making investments in green tech. Well, at least when the left wing parties have held office. This is of course the drawback of the democratic process. Certain technologies doesn’t always get funded when the political tides change. Denmark was leading in wave energy research back in the early millennia until a change in government meant, that all funding in that area got terminated.

 

But beside from that, the Danish government has a history of being a driver for green tech, with research for wind turbines and insulation being our most predominant success stories. In addition tax exemptions for certain green tech, and other instruments have been used to push forward the green agenda. (Note: this is a very simplified explanation. I recommend the book Ecological Modernity for those of you who wish to go deeper into the field).

 

Will crowdfunding replace governmental or University funded R & D?

No. It’s important to understand, that the amount of money needed to invent or rethink a technology, cannot be crow funded. That doesn’t mean government or academia is the only way to fund new technology. Just look at the history of Tesla Motors.

 

Governmental funding is also still a good indicator of what society as a whole wants to put effort into, and big governmental funding can generate momentum and credibility to emerging technologies. On the down side, if you’ve ever held a job on the public sector, you know the levels of bureaucracy that you need to work through, in order to get that funding – Which is totally fair, seeing as we’re talking about taxpayer money.

money_monajensen

So what can crowdfunding do for tech?

Crowdfunding is an effective way for smaller innovation to find their way into existence. Got a great idea about how to make the world better? Put together a good video, do some good campaigning on social media, and there you go. Sky is the limit.

 

Crowdfunding is filling a void. You can get your word out to almost any corner of the world. If you receive a 1$ donation from 100.000 people, you have $100.000. In many cases this might be insanely easier than getting 1 donation of $100.000.

 

There are many examples of great ideas on kickstarter which went viral and therefore went far beyond their pledged goal. Going back to our cutlery snack, they pledged $20.000. Today, with 5 days of the campaign remaining, they have currently collected $234,597 Yep, more than 10 times the amount they asked for. Do you think there’s a good chance we’ll be eating out fast-food cutlery within the next 5-10 years? I do.

So finally I want to ask you this:

How are you going to change the world, and is crowd funding a tool you can use?

Comment below, or write me. I would love to know more about your project.

 

Rotation is the new recycling

Look out recycling, there’s a new kid in town. One that’s more energy efficient, cheaper, and consumption lowering. Furthermore, if you live in a big city, chances are you can save a lot of money and time because of it.

 

In short, rotating your belongings means selling or gifting them. In recycling, you often downgrade the quality of the materials your working with, due to the treatment process, whereas you preserve the item exactly as it is when you rotate it.

For instance, when you recycle a plastic bottle, it is turned into another plastic product, but with a lower quality of plastic. If you rotate (sell or gift) a plastic box, it’s still going to be used as a plastic box, with the same quality of plastic.

The past 5 years have seen a widespread increase in sharing services. AirBNB, Über, and even Craigslist are among the many internet based platforms you can use to pay for services in a peer to peer regime.

You can sublet your apartment without the hassle of knowing someone, who knows someone. You can sign subscription on dresses, enabling you to wear a new stunning dress at every party. You can even have 2nd hand baby clothing mailed directly to you, washed and cleaned, in a leasing service.

The sharing economy is rising in every fiend of commerce

There are a growing number of services and facebook groups that offer 1:1 second hand sale, swap, or give away. You simple upload a picture of what ever you are selling or giving away, and then people respond, and come pick it up.Sharing economy

No more flea markets, no more trips to the recycling center. Someone else is picking up the tings you no longer need.

If you’re at the other end of the table, and are in need of one particular thing, then you can use these services to find people who just happen to be giving it away for free. The only thing you need to do is pick it up.

If you’ve ever moved to a new city, or a new country, you know how you often start your new life going: ‘Fuck, I need this thing!’ And then you need to spend a lot of time, and/or money getting it. Nowadays, all you need is an internet connection and some patience. If you aren’t extremely picky, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for, at a reasonable price, or free.

Why is it a good thing?

 

Environmentally, rotation is godsend. Whenever you help a product escape the gloomy faith of the trashcan, you are doing the environment a solid.

Table_rotation_monajensen

Take a table for instance. To make the table, you need wood.

Seeing as the wood may not have been grown under sustainable conditions, there’s a good chance of soil erosion and loss in biodiversity, being some of the costs of growing the tree that produced that wood.

 

The trees are cut down and transported using diesel driven machinery. Not good for the environment. Then shipping. Then maybe painting or the use of other chemicals to process the material.

Then packaging, usually cardboard, or bubble wrap. The manufacturing of both of these materials use a good dosage of chemicals and water.

Transportation_monajensenThen more shipment to stores and showrooms.

And then you buy it. You also need to take it home. More transportation.

If you then decide to discard you table, and not rotate or recycle it, it goes to either land field, adding to the production of atmospheric methane gas, or it get’s incinerated. The ladder is more environmentally friendly, as most modern incineration plants have quite good combustion and air filters, and use the excess heat for district heating.

Do the environment a solid – rotate your stuff

If you instead of discarding decide to sell, or gift that table, you are eliminating all the formerly mentioned steps and pollutants, with the small exception of the transportation between you and the receiver of the table.

 

Isn’t it bad for the economy?

money_monajensen

This is a valid question, and has often been the main point when arguing against recycling and peer to peer sales. Isn’t it bad for the economy if I stop buying tables? Not necessarily.

By not spending you money on furniture, or expensive hotels, you are freeing your money to be spent in other ways. You will now maybe buy one item of quality clothing, instead of 3 easily discarded items. Or you invest that money in investment pools, stocks, or bonds.

You could put that money into a college fund for you, or your children, now investing in both the educational system, and you country as a whole in the way, that you are adding to the amount of well educated citizens who, by the way, also make more money.

In short, the money saved by using these services does not end up in a mattress. They still end up in the economic system, but have usually been used to enhance the quality of your life.

A counter argument is often; well, if I don’t buy cheap clothing produced by child labor in India, the Children of Indian won’t have a job, ergo their quality of life will decrease. Though there is some legitimacy to this point, feeding the system of child labor through cheap clothing is treating the symptom, not the cause.

The argument is a mental loophole, used to justify your current purchasing habits. If it where to be true, you would not need to change your habits. This makes your brain happy, because habit changing is hard.

If you really want to do something to support children in 3rd world countries, there are plenty of programs you can donate money to. Or you can use your saved money to go to law school and become a human rights lawyer.

Getting back on track: Spend your money on happiness

Rotation, swapping, and battering are no longer reserved for students or low income families. It is, slowly but effectively, becoming a common practice.

 

Happy-life_sharing_economy_monajensenI highly encourage you to embrace it. And then spend the money you save on enhacing the quality of life for you, or your loved once.

Live out dreams, go travel, or just buy that really high quality food that you love so much, but never buy.

 

Rotate your stuff, do the environment a solid, and enhance the quality of life.

 

End note: A big thanks to Majken, who was the source of inspiration for this post!

 

 

 

Environmental Economics 101 – Mitigation or Climate Change Prevention?

I’ve been putting of writing about environmental economics for some time, simply because the subject is somewhat complicated, and I haven’t yet found a way to make it tangible. But last night, a friend of mine send my an article, that gave me an idea for a post about green-econ. Is so simple, even my dead dog could understand it.

It will only revolve around one question:

Which is cheaper, Mitigation or Climate Change Prevention?

Climate mitigation is in short, adapting to the consequences of climate change.

Examples of this include; storm drains, damns, water protection, drought prevention and so on.

Climate change prevention is in short, preventing climate change, either by cutting the use of fossil fuels, which is most commonly discussed, or by extracting CO2 and other green house gasses from the atmosphere. The lather is often regarded as unfit for large-scale project, and an unrealistic technology.

So, mitigation fights the consequences of climate change and climate change prevention fights the actual climate change, eliminating the need for mitigation.

 

The above seems like a no brainer. Fight the problem at the root, right?

 

Unfortunately, most policymakers don’t see it that way. The here and now cost of climate change prevention, is far greater than mitigation, and their budgets don’t stretch 20, 50, or 100 years into the future.

 

I could find an endless list of links of policy makers stating, that it would be far cheaper to spend money on mitigation, than prevention. Instead, I’m going to give you an example, of why they are wrong.

 

These days the municipality of Copenhagen are implementing the most ambitious climate mitigation plan, even seen in our nation. Massive storm drains and runoff patches are being build, green areas planted, and sewage pipes expanded to cope with the added pressure.

 

The plan is even so ambitious, the solutions are being sold to New York.

The above is no doubt impressive, but as we already established, you have to attack the problem at the root.

 

A 2 degree increase in global mean temperature will still result in massive flooding. In my home city of Copenhagen, this means 225.000 people will loose their homes – about half the current population of the City. ScienceNordic made this video about the effects of just a 2 degree temperature rise, will have in Denmark’s capital:

All the storm drains in the world, would not prevent a flooding of this magnitude. The price of relocating the 225.000 people alone exceeds the price of mitigation. Then you have to add lost businesses and income, the cost of social benefits to cover unemployment and decease, the need for new infrastructure…. The list goes on and on.

 

I am not going to find loads of spreadsheet, and examples and use them to convince you, that preventing climate change, is a better investment than climate mitigation. Many, many others have done that.

I am just going to remind you, why it is we have to act. COP21 is happening right this moment. You can still write you local politician, or send a tweet at them, urging them to find a binding agreement in Paris.

It will cost you only 5 minutes of your time, but it might prevent 627 million world citizens from loosing their homes.

 

 

Cards Against Humanity – Climate Change edition

I made my coffee WAY too potent one morning, resulting in a crazy idea I had to try out.

 

CARDS AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
-High five bro!

 

I thought it could be fun to make a Cards Against Humanity game, that you could bring to the climate march.

You can even play with people in other countries by sending them pictures.

 

It became a day-long project (before and after regular work hours), but the 1st version was done and up before I went to bed that night which, granted, was late due to the coffee.

 

Click the big, tasty button below, and get the 2nd version -now with even more cards, for added fun!

 

 

The cards are non-profit and are not a part of the original Cards Against Humanity series.

You can play it in combination with the original game, giving you such joyous results as:

 

‘In a surprising move, Bjørn Lomborg now advocates The Holocaust.’

 

Really, how can you not download them?

 

They sprung to life by the joint effort and creative minds, of me, and the amazing people I know. Thank you; Yan, Helle, Mikkel, Niels, Charlotte, Nicholas, Sievers, Carsten, Dion, and McFadden.

 

So print them, and bring them to a climate march, or another COP21 event, near you!

 

Remember, you can play it with people around the globe who are also attending a climate march, by tweeting a picture of your card with #CAH_ClimateChange.

 

If you have a suggestion for cards, put them in the comments, or shoot me an e-mail.

Action climate change _ SomethingGreen.org

What to do when facing the apocalyptic doom – Acting on Climate Change

In the previous blog post, I wrote about, why people still have a hard time grasping the reality of climate change. This post covers what you can do to take action, once you’ve accepted that climate change is a real thing.

 

First of all, consult your local Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, and Don’t panic. Panicking never helped anybody.

If your house is one big mess after a new years party, what do you do? You take an aspirin, breath, and you say to yourself: ‘Ok, it’s bad, but I can do it, I just need to decide where to start.’ And once you’ve decided, you start.

Action climate change - SomethingGreen.org

At some point doing this, you might feel like giving up. ‘Oh my, this is worse than I expected! And look, someone spilled wine on the walls, how did that happen??

 

You feel like giving up again, like the problem is only getting bigger the more you work at it. But it’s not really getting bigger, is it?

 

The problem is the same, you just gain more knowledge about it.

 

And even though you may now also need to gain knowledge about how to get wine of walls, you are handling the problem. You are acting; you are chipping away at the situation even though the problem seems excruciatingly large.

 

Actionables! –What can you do, right now?

So what can you do?

Facebook algorithms don’t reach far. You only see what your peers see, and the only people who are blessed with your updates, are people like you. This means that sharing things on Facebook, has a very limited reach, meaning a limited effect.

 

Power_in_number_monajensen

 

 

Instead, sign petitions, and join talks and demonstrations. Go to globalclimatemarch.org to find a climate march near you.

 

 

The most effective thing you can do is get political. If it means signing partitions, then do that. If it’s sending emails to your local politicians do that.

Oh, and Danes, the e-mail address for the Danish parliament is stm@stm.dk, should you feel like sending them an email or 10.000.

 

Attend social mixers about the subject. It’s a great way to meet new and interesting people.

I recommend you start by finding the people, who are already chipping away at the problem, and then team up with them. Hell, you can even make a game out of it. There’s power in numbers, and just like cleaning up after a new years party is easier if you 5 people instead of 1, taking on an environmental cause (or social cause for that matter), is easier if you’re a group.

These are simple things you can do to act on climate change, and environmental issues.

 

As I send you off into the world of environmental doom, remember this:

  • Don’t panic
  • Aim your firepower in the most effective direction by joining forces with others and/or getting political
  • You’ve got this

Please tell me in the comments, what you do to chip away at an environmental problem. I want to learn more about the many different creative ways people take action.

Dont_panic_monajensen

Sustainability, stupidity and socks.

The following is about some of the basic problems in changing lanes to a more sustainable future, and about sustainability cognition:

This post sprung out of something as simple as a journey from my bedroom to the bathroom. I went to go use the bathroom, but had to turn back to put on a hoodie and knitted socks because it was so freaking cold I couldn’t stand it.

Now, I far from live in a mansion. In fact, there’s only about 1,5 meters from my door to the bathroom. So why the desperate need for warmer clothing? Well, we’re on the top floor. Right above us, is the attic. This is what it looks like:

Attic_monajensen

Do you see it? The bare bricks, the total lack of insulation? (2016 Edit: Well, there is a layer of insulation beneath the attic floor, which is my ceiling. I have no idea how thick is is)

And this is the view from my window. The white stuff is snow (Sorry for the newb like window reflection, but there was no way in hell I was opening that window).

Sne og vindue

In other words, I live in a country that has a chance of snow from November to April, but has very low standard requirements for insulation, regarding buildings build before 1980. And that combination makes me a little bit angry. Cold and angry. And this is not a raggedy old building, this is a standard building in Copenhagen.
The following picture is from one of the cities in Denmark the closest to Copenhagen, in terms of size, culture and age of buildings. It’s taken with a 45 degree angle, so that it is possible to see the facades, as well as the roof tops. Lots of heat just getting lost. Lots of energy just wasting away.

37747_650_550_0_0_0_0

20% wasted energy

Studies show that more than 20% of Denmark’s total energy consumption can be eliminated, just by isolation our current, badly insulated buildings (in Danish). Some even argue it’s closer to 35%. I would love to say that Denmark is one of the worst sinners in the world when it comes to bad insulation, but we’re not. We’re like most other countries in the world. Actually we’re in the good end of the scale. A terrifying thought.

There have been different initiatives from the government to promote investment in housing insulation, where citizens could apply for financial help, in order to put in new and better (or any, in my building’s case) insulation. But this was only to stimulate the economy in the financial crisis, and now that the economy is finding a balance again, isolating your house just isn’t as attractive as buying that new car.

So why is it that, even though the insulation would still be a better investment than the car, we don’t see people rush to the insulation companies? I’ll tell you. The insulation has no bling. No status. How are you gonna show of your wealth and style? With a 2,5 inc fiber filling, or with a new Ford?

Now, I don’t wanna go as far as saying that human beings are stupid as a whole, just a little bit tied to our biological and social need of being accepted by the pack, in order to ensure our survival. We are a pack animal and we need to fit in to remain in the pack, and to show of power to excel within the pack. Hence the new Ford.

So now we seem to have an issue. We have nice cars, but will soon have no gas to put in them, and we have a big energy bill, that will only get bigger as prices of fossil fuel will rise. That seems to me kind of, ummh.. Stupid. But on the other hand, you can’t just rise against the pack, keep the old out-of-fashion-car, and use the money on insulation, can you?

What if it was all of a sudden in fashion to plan for the future and save money? What if all of the sudden you knew, that fossil fuel prices would only go up, and that you would have to cash out.

The economic crisis had a wonderful effect on the world’s sustainability cognition. All of the sudden it became popular to invest in renewable resources. Just like it did in the past oil crisis’. We saw the point, we saw the necessity. And most importantly, we saw ourselves. We saw, and we knew that keeping passive, will hit us hard. I have a motto:

The biggest lie in sustainable management is that we are doing this for our children and our children’s children.

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We’re not. We shouldn’t be. We should be doing it for ourselves. Non-renewable resource reserves such as crude oil and helium will have run out before I even retire. Old age is gonna suck if we don’t act now. Unfortunately, the only thing that reminds us of this, is a crisis. When the world has settled again, we go for the car. So what do we do? Launch the world into a global crisis every now and then, just to stay on our toes. Insert a sense of panic every so often? NO! (I’ll get back to that in a later post) Fear is not the answer.

Part of the wolf pack – It’s biology, baby

We have to change the way we interact and the themes for which we are accepted into the pack. What if your neighbours frowned at you for not insulation your house, for not buying energy efficient appliances, for not eating organic food, what would you do then? What would you do to fit in and be accepted? What if the community, if states, pushed its government to make decisions that were long lasting, economically beneficial, and would secure enough resources for its citizens? Where would it start?

I think it starts in the individual. In the stubbornness of one person, to do what he or she finds to be right. In standing up to the pack and not buying that car. Then it spreads. Friends, family, neighbours, facebook relations. At some point these norms reach the key people who have governance enough to make a substantial difference. It’s all about the first movers. Marketing science knows this. Communication science knows this.  It’s time for environmental science to know this. It’s time for environmental science to understand that if it wants to succeed, if we want to succeed, we need to draw upon knowledge from other scientific branches, such as communication, economics, social network science, behavioural science, learning theories and much more.

I believe it’s doable. I also think I will be posting a lot more about the dilemmas and promises of this approach. In the mean time, maybe I should learn how to knit, so I’ll have socks for my freezing home.

Social acceptance.

*end note from 2016: Looking back, I’m glad to see that I was on the right track, and that the environmental sciences are welcoming other fields of science. I am a bit sad that I took a 4 year break from blogging, though. I Wish I had been gutsier back then, and shared these posts more. Hopefully this is one of those moments where you learn from your mistakes.