Addressing people's motivation to participate in mass environmental action while reinvigorating local businesses and building community.
The Eco-taskers concept addresses the question of how to get people motivated to participate in mass environmental action. Our solution focuses on transforming cities into places for collaboration, sustainable living, and impactful change for achieving environmental progress. It is particularly relevant in a post-COVID-19 world, speaking to the moment and utilising momentum to address the ongoing, deep-rooted, and overlooked ecological issues.
The ideas are based on extensive secondary research into human behaviour, incentivisation and gamification, and movement building, as well as local primary research concerning local habits and opinions on taking action. The concept is at a stage where it can be ready for prototyping and testing.
The concept consists of 4 key parts: a network, an online task hub, an audience, and a campaign. Initially this would be implemented in Munich, our home city, however it could be expanded to any other city globally.
The network is made up of eco businesses, organisations, and initiatives, including environmental organisations, zero waste shops, bio supermarkets, second-hand clothing shops, vegan restaurants, relevant meetup groups, eco hair salons, and more. The businesses and organisations have to be committed to positive environmental action and practices.
An Online Task Hub
The Task Hub is a digital space for eco network members to post environmental tasks and challenges which will be undertaken by the public. Each task has a category, level of commitment, and skills required to complete it. Categories include art and design, writing, translation, social media, volunteering, and more. Commitment relates to time required and effort needed (i.e. can be done from home, requirement to be at a specific location in the city). As for skills, tasks can be family-friendly, highly-skilled, or community efforts (requiring many people to come together). Examples of tasks could be designing a poster for an event at an eco store, writing copy for social media posts, volunteering time to help with urban gardening, and much more. These tasks therefore appeal to the public's diverse skills and interests. Completing tasks also results in winning points which can then be redeemed as vouchers or discounts at participating eco businesses.
The audience, who take part in completing tasks and winning points, can be any members of the public. Tasks will appeal to all people and backgrounds therefore making it inclusive and engaging.
The aim of the campaign is to raise public awareness of the task hub and show people in a fun and inclusive way how they can get involved and make a difference. The campaign is an annual, temporary event lasting for a month in the spring or summer months. The way it works is this:
- Participating businesses with a shop front hide a small object in their window that does not relate to their core business. It has to be visible to the public from the street.
- The business also puts a branded sticker in their window to show that they are participating in the campaign. A QR code and a web address on this sticker lead to the Task Hub.
- The businesses promote the campaign on their social media platforms.
- Members of the public take part by searching for the hidden objects in the shop windows. It’s a fun and inclusive activity for families or those who are new to the city. Having found objects, people log them online on the website.
- At the end of the campaign, a winner is announced and a prize, which is sponsored by one or more of the businesses, is given. This prize could be anything from a family meal at a vegan restaurant to vouchers for an eco supermarket or even a weekend hiking trip. The main criteria would be that it is appealing enough to incentivise people.
The Eco-taskers concept aims to build a bridge between eco businesses and organisations and the public, creating momentum for action and interest. There are many incentives for all stakeholders to take part.
For eco businesses and organisations, they receive promotion and gain new audiences, connect to like-minded initiatives, strengthen their branding messaging, and get tasks completed by the public.
For the public, they are initially hooked by the campaign, a fun and inclusive game with the opportunity to win a prize, the chance to explore the city and get to know new businesses that share their green values. In the longer term, completing tasks is a rewarding way to do their bit for the environment in a way that appeals to their skills and interests, and is rewarded with small prizes.
In addition to the stakeholder incentives, the Eco-taskers concept also serves the goal of fulfilling a number of environmental benefits, including:
- Environmentally-friendly businesses and organisations gain support and promotion
- Building a positive eco reputation that encourages other businesses to follow
- Completion of worthwhile tasks that help hub members to thrive
- Collaboration opportunities that bring bigger audiences to existing activities
- A space to begin new initiatives and receive expert guidance
The Eco-taskers concept is particularly applicable in a post-COVID-19 situation in that it invigorates local businesses and appeals to the public's desire to get outdoors and involved in the community after such a long period of distancing and feeling cut off. The pandemic has shown us the power of coming together to fight a global crisis and that energy can and should be harnessed for the benefit of the environment.
Who will take these actions?
To implement the project our Eco-taskers team will carry out the initial set-up. This includes forming the network between businesses and organisations, developing the task hub website, and running the campaign.
Once functioning, the network relies on voluntary work from the environmental organisations to keep the platform going. Efforts would be worthwhile as the organisations benefit from performative tasks and increased reach.
There is the opportunity to apply this concept (a network, task hub, audience, and campaign) in different contexts such as universities, with the end-result of students maintaining the program and platform in exchange for experience and certifications.
What are the projected costs?
Due to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, this project will be kept as the grassroots level with minimum funding to start. The planned expenses for this project includes the following:
- Funding for the implementation of the project, via stipends for our team: approximately €7,200 total (as compared to a student job for 4 people over 6 months)
- Web development: approximately €1,000
- Optional: Marketing approximately €800
After hitting the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) of a functioning network, task hub and campaign to get people involved, additional funding or efforts could be pursued to amplify the experience and results.
In terms of implementation we would start with an initial goal of forming a network with 10 businesses and 5 organisations, targeting those with substantial influence and presence. We expect this MVP would take 3 months to establish the initial platform, though it would continue to grow throughout its existence.
Design and development of the task hub website would need approximately 3 months. In total, we expect that this program could be functional within half a year.
Once established, the Eco-taskers concept would run year-round, offering support and help to the businesses and organisations making positive environmental change to city-living. The campaign would be set for the duration of around 1 month, and would be offered annually as a hook to gain more interest and involvement from the public.
About the author(s)
We are 4 Masters student studying Design Management at Macromedia of Applied Sciences in Munich, Germany. Coming from different countries around the world and having different expertise, we aim to combine our different areas of knowledge to provide solutions to current issues.
Our team consists of:
Charlotte Britton from the UK, who has a background in Fine Art and Art History, with 3 plus years of experience in product management and service design.
Dana Johnston from California, USA, who has a background in Environmental Studies along with experience in the environmental field and design.
Mareeya Mitmana from Thailand, who has a background in Liberal Arts and has experience in the aviation field alongside customer service.
Audrey Leung from British Columbia, Canada, who has a background in communication design and has experience as a visual artist and designer.