UN Environment Programme had launched on 1st September 2020, an easy to use sustainable campus guide – ‘The Little Book of Green Nudges‘. The book defines nudges as positive and gentle persuasions that are meant to influence behaviour and decision-making. Such interventions include choice architecture, default setting, social influence and increased salience.
Developed by UNEP in collaboration with Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) and GRID-Arendal, it contains 40 ready-made nudges – simple measures that make it easier to make green choices – which university campuses can deploy to encourage students and staff to embrace more sustainable behaviours.
This book can be used a guide by anyone who wants to create positive change at their university, anywhere around the world, from provosts to campus sustainability coordinators to professors to student leaders.
Their Mantra? Go EAST!
To encourage behavioral changes in adoption of these nudges, they believe that the initiatives should be | Easy | Attractive | Social | Timely.
Examples of nudges recommended in the book include:
> At cafeterias, coffee shops and catered events on campus, let people know that they are expected to bring and use their own reusable cups and cutlery.
> For meetings, conferences and events on your campus, make remote dial-in the default option for attendees who do not live nearby.
> Require people wishing to drive to campus to register their cars or apply for a parking permit, even if doing so is free. Increase the friction further by having permits last only for a day or a week, so that people have to reapply.
> Place foods that are more sustainable at the front of fridges or counters, at eye level and near checkouts. Put recycling bins in front of rubbish bins.
For encouraging innovative ideas beyond the suggested 40 nudges, the book covers case studies of successful sustainable campus projects around the world.
“Recycling is eye-catching at Mahidol University, Thailand, where a “recyclable
waste bank” project has created recycling points that mimic banks’ transaction and
withdrawal systems. When people deposit recyclable items, they get a bank statement showing the value of those items, and they can withdraw this in cash or save it in their account.”
“University College Cork, Ireland, reduced the hassle of using reusable cups by installing cup washers on campus, then saw a 20 per cent increase in reusable cup use.”
“Five students at Aalto University, Finland, set up a food-sharing group that enables
distribution of leftovers on campus, such as from meetings and parties, for free. They have a growing membership of more than 1,000 people and so far, the group has prevented more than 7,000 kilograms of food from going to waste.”
“The University of St Andrews, UK, has removed trays and reduced the size of plates to cut food waste in student dining areas.”
“At Dalhousie University, Canada, students along with Office of Sustainability removed 4,500 individual rubbish bins, added more than 3,000 recycling and compost bins, and placed more than 4,000 signs and stickers. They used choice architecture to encourage sustainable transport, by installing more bike racks, bike pumps, bus shelters and electric vehicle infrastructure.”
Get involved and Join the Pilot Phase!
UNEP is collaborating with higher education institutions around the world to pilot nudging on campuses. Already 20 universities have joined the programme – including the University of Chile, the University of Nairobi, the University of Tsukuba in Japan and the University of California at Berkeley – many more are set to join up in the months ahead.
On their programme information page, UNEP suggests these steps for becoming a part of their list of pilot universities, which will then lead as case study examples for rest of the world.
STEP 1: Nominate your campus & choose your actions
STEP 2: Submit commitment & implementation plan
STEP 3: Invite other universities to join you
STEP 4: Implement and join our Green Campus calls
STEP 5: Monitor & share progress
STEP 6: Evaluate
STEP 7: Share results