Since its launch in late 2017 Spark Sustainability has enabled a whopping 40 000 climate actions and over 30 000 people have tried our website calculator or the calculator in the Carbon Donut app in order to find out their lifestyle emissions. And the story is just beginning.
During the past four years we’ve enabled over 40 000 personal climate actions. This means over 750 000 kg CO2 emissions saved — which corresponds to close to 5 million km by car or 8000 hours of flying!
Needless to say, we are very proud of this achievement.
Motivating people to act or change their habits is no easy task. When Spark Sustainability was first launched in 2017, the company was all about informing and educating individuals about the positive impact they can make by taking personal climate action. At the time it seemed like there was little or no information available about the huge amount of emissions caused by our everyday choices — at least not in an easy-to-understand or accessible form. We set out to change that with inspiring science-based content and data visualisations on our Instagram and blog.
Since then, climate-smart habits such as reducing meat consumption or driving less have started to establish themselves as common knowledge. There’s tons of information available and the media regularly talks about what individuals can do to reduce emissions.
Today, the problem is not the amount of information available. It’s getting that information translated into Action.
Spark’s mission from the very start has been to highlight the many benefits that climate-smart lifestyles can bring. Instead of pushing people to give up on habits that cause emissions, we’ve talked about the things we all can gain by taking climate action.
Making climate-smart choices can mean discovering new favourite and healthier foods; more time spent with family and friends by focusing on experiencing things together rather than buying things we don’t really need; improved fitness from new commuting habits and more money saved. In other words, taking climate action can easily lead to a better quality of life.
Instead of talking about a climate crisis (as many do to highlight the urgency, and rightfully so) we’ve continued to use the term climate change. According to psychologist Per Espen Stoknes, what framing climate change as a disaster may lead to is people starting to avoid the topic altogether. To get people engaged in solving climate change instead, we need communication that doesn’t scare everyone off.
Drawing from Stoknes’ concept of the five engaging S’s, we’ve focused on building new social norms by lifting different sustainable habits that are both easy and fun; being supportive by highlighting the benefits of climate change mitigation; presenting simple and concrete ways to reduce emissions such as switching to a green electricity contract; communicating signals that visualise progress with our infographics and the Carbon Donut app as well as sharing stories of real people making change happen in their everyday lives.
What’s become clear for us during these past years of working with climate action is that people want to discuss climate change and climate action and share their experiences with others. We’ve seen a real need for interaction and peer support - people want to know what taking climate action feels like for others. They want to know which actions give joy or make life easier, what is the best vegan ice cream, do others feel bad about their love for cheese and how do you cope with not being able to reduce your driving. And what about family and friends - has anyone found a way to successfully explain to their doubtful relatives why these things are important?
In other words, simply listing ways to reduce emissions is not enough. To change a habit, the new one has to be proven better than the old one, and peer support is of pivotal importance.
Other things we’ve learned on the way that seem to motivate and inspire people to try new habits are knowing one’s personal lifestyle emissions; seeing how personal action connects to systemic change; seeing the impact of different climate actions and noticing how climate-smart habits can actually save you money.
Over 30 000 people have tried our website calculator or the calculator in the Carbon Donut app, in order to find out their yearly lifestyle emissions. This suggests people have a need for personal data: what does my lifestyle look like in terms of emissions and how can I reduce my climate impact? To answer this, we aim to give people concrete tips on climate action that are not only impactful but actually fit the person’s lifestyle and are easy to take on.
Our company mission is to enable 1 billion climate actions by 2025. This will result in a reduction of more than 100 billion kg of CO2, or roughly twice the annual emissions of Finland. To reach this goal we’ve started to offer digital tools for companies to help their employees and customers make climate-smart choices. During spring, we’ve met with thirty companies and municipalities to find out how we could best develop our tools and leverage our knowledge to help the organisations reach their climate goals.
If your company is looking for ways to engage employees in its climate work or support them in adopting climate-smart habits, our climate app for employees might be the solution you’re looking for. Or if you’re looking for ways to highlight the emission-reducing potential of your offerings to your customers instead, take a look at our digital carbon handprint tools. Let’s make the most of your climate work together!
Want to know how you can become part of the solution to climate change? Download our app Carbon Donut to discover emission-reducing solutions, get personalised tips on how to reduce them and track your progress! Find it in the App Store and on Google Play.
Psst! Don’t forget to send us your feedback. Let’s build an app that will make climate action the new mega trend!
Linda holds a Master’s in Media and Communication and is passionate about science communication, dogs and vegan food.
Lapinlahdenkatu 16, 00180 Helsinki