Behaviour Change

Eco Drama’s Carbon Innovations

This post comes from Creative Carbon Scotland

185286-greener-together-community-awards-eco-drama-pr-pic-stripeEco Drama is a touring children’s theatre company based in Glasgow.  They deliver theatre productions, drama workshops, teacher training and creative learning experiences to schools, community venues, theatres and festivals throughout Scotland.

The company are dedicated to creating meaningful experiences which engage and inspire children, young people and the wider community in the values of caring and being responsible for the natural world. Through the creative experience, the company aims to reduce carbon emissions by inspiring positive behaviour change.

Eco Drama has a green ethos at its heart and tour in the eye-catching Magic Van, run on 100% recycled vegetable oil, which helps reduce touring carbon emissions by 85%. The following case studies illustrate some of the company’s latest work and highlight the real benefits that the project is bringing to young people and communities.

The Forgotten Orchard

The Forgotten Orchard is a production written by Eco Drama for ages 8+.  The show draws inspiration from Scottish apples and our lost orchard heritage, and aims to spark imaginations and re-connect young people emotionally and intellectually with their food and where it comes from.

The show is currently being delivered to primary schools across Scotland, as well as being performed at Apple Days, festivals, community venues and theatres.  During 2012-15, Eco Drama, in collaboration with ‘The Appletreeman’ Andrew Lear, will help plant 34 school orchards across Glasgow City, as well as a community orchard at the new Townhead Village Hall in Glasgow city centre. Teachers are provided with Orchard Training and 3 Scottish apple trees to get started, made possible with support from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund.

The Worm; An Underground Adventure

Eco Drama’s new performance for 3-7 year olds, ‘The Worm’ is an immersive, musical tale celebrating the wonder of life beneath our feet. Post-performance the audience get to see some real worms and learn about the importance of ‘worm poo’ in helping us recycle food waste and its importance in contributing to healthy nutritious soil. Nurseries and schools booking this performance receive a wormery and kitchen caddy to start them on their composting journey.

Process Drama & Creative Learning

Eco Drama have also been delivering creative learning workshops ‘Recycling Heroes’, ‘Eco Gadgets’ and ‘The Oil of Life’, all of which enable learners to explore environmental topics in greater depth through the medium of drama and inspire that we can all make a positive difference to our natural world.

The Carbon Calculator, Qualitative Evaluation & Research

Eco Drama is committed to evaluating the social and environmental impact of theatre and drama education on behaviour change, carbon emissions and on young people’s personal development. In recent years the company have developed an online Carbon Calculator, which enables both Eco Drama and schools to monitor the amount of carbon output each class of students produce both before and after the experience.  So far the carbon reductions from positive behaviour change have been significant.

Between April 2011 and March 2012, following a range of workshops and productions in West Dunbartonshire schools, the company were successful in making a CO2 reduction of 548.72 tonnes across the schools in the areas of waste minimisation, reductions in energy usage and sustainable travel.  By touring in a van run on bio diesel instead of conventional diesel fuel, a saving of 2.1 tonnes of CO2 was made to Eco Drama’s own carbon footprint during the lifespan of the tour.

To calculate the reductions made within schools, results from the ‘before’ questionnaires were inputted into the carbon calculator, which gave baseline data for current behaviours and current carbon output in relation to the three target areas – waste minimisation, reductions in energy usage and sustainable travel. Then, several months after the experience and subsequent classroom activities, a second questionnaire was carried out, and the ‘after’ results inputted into the calculator.  The results were then measured using carbon data obtained from the Scottish Governments Low Carbon Route Maps for Travel & Energy, from and the TSCB Programme Support Plan Template – Number 7 ‘Tonnage/Carbon Impact Detail’. This enabled us to calculate what carbon reductions had been made from positive behaviour change in these areas.

Going forward, Eco Drama has new projects and productions that tie in with the new Zero Waste Regulations passed by the Scottish Parliament.  Carbon reductions will be calculated in the area of food waste minimisation by carrying out food waste audits in the schools we work with, again both before and several months after the experience.  The company are on track to achieving similar, if not substantially better carbon reduction results for 2012/13 and beyond.

Image courtesy of STV News

The post Blog: Eco Drama’s Carbon Innovations appeared first on Creative Carbon Scotland.

Creative Carbon Scotland is a partnership of arts organisations working to put culture at the heart of a sustainable Scotland. We believe cultural and creative organisations have a significant influencing power to help shape a sustainable Scotland for the 21st century.

In 2011 we worked with partners Festivals Edinburgh, the Federation of Scottish Threatre and Scottish Contemporary Art Network to support over thirty arts organisations to operate more sustainably.

We are now building on these achievements and working with over 70 cultural organisations across Scotland in various key areas including carbon management, behavioural change and advocacy for sustainable practice in the arts.

Our work with cultural organisations is the first step towards a wider change. Cultural organisations can influence public behaviour and attitudes about climate change through:

Changing their own behaviour;
Communicating with their audiences;
Engaging the public’s emotions, values and ideas.

Go to Creative Carbon Scotland

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Spirited discussions pt. 4 (by Ben Twist, Director of Creative Carbon Scotland)

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Dave Young, Carbon Catcher, and Sam Clark, artist and contributor to Spirited discussion 4, in the Meadows. Photo CO2 Edenburgh.

Dave Young, Carbon Catcher, and Sam Clark, artist and contributor to Spirited discussion 4, in the Meadows. Photo CO2 Edenburgh.

The last of our Spirited Discussions asking, ‘Can Art Change the Climate? was entitled:

Going Beyond the Material: Environment and Invisible Forces in the Literary, Performing and Visual Arts.

This, in some ways, reminded me of Wallace Heim’s reference in Spirited Discussion part 2 to Alan Badiou’s idea that the four critical kinds of event which change people are love, science, art and politics.

In the performing arts particularly there is arguably no ‘thing’ that is the work of art: there is the event that is found in the ether between the player and the audience; there is the growth of digital publishing which has emphasised that the same is true of the written work.  With the written word the format is sometimes less important than the content and the work of art is an event taking place in the reader’s head, brought about by the words in whatever form they are reproduced (consider audiobooks). This aesthetic view could of course be equally true of visual artworks; the event takes place when we view the work, but in an empty gallery or an unoccupied installation all that exists is some colour on a surface or a collection of items.

Lucy Miu, Business Manager of the Bedlam Theatre and driving force behind this year and next’s Dramatic Impacts, is also an Environmental Sciences student, effectively straddling the line between the arts and the sciences. She argued that for people to be informed by information they need to be engaged with it. This is backed up by plenty of behaviour change research which shows that plain information has almost no effect on the recipient’s behaviour.  Kate Foster concurred: her experience with biology students saw them overwhelmed by the sheer level of information they were being asked to take in. Her artistic practice allowed them to make sense of it, focus their new knowledge and understand it, rather than just know it. Lucy felt that the arts, which engage us emotionally, can help, and that perhaps they also help where the original experience is not available to all, (murdering the King of Scotland, experiencing the bombing of Guernica), and the artist can bring that experience to a wider audience.

For me, what is particularly important here is that an artist may, perhaps must if they are to be described as an artist rather than a mere reporter, have special insight into the experience that they transmit to the audience along with the basic information: information + insight is what gets the event lodged in the audience’s understanding. Information + insight creates the sort of event we are interested in.

Lucy also made the point that all performing arts events are group activities.  At the very least there is an audience as well as a performer, whilst engaging with visual arts is, or can be, a more solitary business. In her view this made the performing arts more engaging but Tim Collins argued that different forms do different things. (The similarities and differences between the visual and performing arts were questions that arose regularly and usefully during CO2 Edenburgh: Spirit in the Air.) The question of whether feeling is enough arose again, just as it had been raised by Chris Speed in Discussion 1, and it clearly isn’t enough: pornography, a well-made horror film or Love Story make us feel, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to change people or their behaviour as Badiou seems to be getting at.

Here Sam Clark made her first intervention noting that, to the writer Rebecca Solnit, the difference for the writer between discarding an article and having it published is minimal, but history starts when events happen. The event may happen almost accidentally, or is at least subject to chance, and is not solely in the artist’s gift. How does this square with Wallace Heim’s view that the artists’ practices create the conditions where [Badiou’s] change can happen (remember love, science, art and politics)? The answer is surely that art is a fairly slippery thing with fuzzy boundaries. Questions of intention, insight, engagement and emotion swirl around this subject, which is perhaps what makes the question of whether art can change the climate so difficult to disentangle, let alone answer.

Sam Clark chose to address the title Going Beyond the Material more directly in her short and very beautiful talk, speaking about scientists working on matter. Only 4.7% of reality is material, according to a physicist she knows; 75% is dark matter whose existence is only deduced from its interaction with matter and gravity. Even less concrete is dark energy, only imagined because the universe is expanding and accelerating, not shrinking or slowing down. These scientists are working on a relationship between the visible and the invisible, or in artistic terms the knowable and the ineffable (strikingly similar in my mind to Andrew Patrizio’s conjunction of the mercantile and the religious in fifteenth century Florence – see Discussion 3). The scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern use non-detection as a means of detection; 95% of the universe is only knowable through the instrument of the mind. Here we surely get into the realm of philosophy and for me insight comes to the fore again. What we want from artists – why societies from the year dot have supported, encouraged and valued them – is access to the knowledge of the things that are unknowable just through experience, knowledge that requires use of the instrument of the mind. Sam made the same point – insight and experience of things we don’t understand or things we hate, creating a space of wonder, are the things we want from artists. And as Harry Giles made clear in the first of the Spirited Discussions, actually artists and scientists do many of the same things. But maybe Sam’s last suggestion is what artists do but scientists try to avoid: making the familiar strange.

The session came to a close with a short discussion about empathy, a subject that Reiko Goto Collins had touched upon in her introduction. Sympathy is when you simply feel for another; empathy is when you place yourself in their shoes, which takes more than just emotion. Lucy suggested that maybe if art can change the climate, it is because it can help connect the brain and the heart. If we have done that, just a bit, with CO2 Edenburgh: Spirit in the Air, it will have been well worth it.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.
It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

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Tradable Energy Quotas: a solution for peak oil and climate change?

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Beth Stratford edited the recent report on Tradable Energy Quotas for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil Peak Oil on Wikipedia).  She is Energy and Finance Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, and an MSc student in Ecological Economics.

If information campaigns are inadequate for motivating behaviour change, and carbon price rises are regressive, is there another approach?

This lunchtime seminar will critically consider the role that Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs) could play in shifting social norms, engaging ordinary people with the task of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, and guaranteeing fairer access to energy when the going gets tough.  It will also explore barriers to implementation – including issues of public perception and policy space – and try to identify useful areas for future research.

Lunchtime presentation and discussion

1:30 – 2:30pm  9th March 2011

Lecture Theatre D, Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh (Peter Wilson Building, Kings Building campus, EH9 3JG)

For thoughts about Peak Oil please also look at PLATFORM London’s blog.

Beth Stratford edited the recent report on TEQs
<> for the All Party Parliamentary Group on
Peak Oil: <>.  She is
Energy and Finance Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, and an
MSc student in Ecological Economics.Beth Stratford edited the recent report on TEQs <> for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Peak Oil: <>. She is Energy and Finance Campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, and an MSc student in Ecological Economics.

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.
Go to EcoArtScotland

The Ecology of Innovation

Our approach has been to teach these principles to local residents and help them apply them to the behaviours that underlie local environmental problems. We think that giving community activists the knowledge and support to “nudge” their neighbours could be a better way of encouraging behaviour change. National attempts to apply these principles could leave people feeling preached at, or alienate people by taking covert approaches.

Instead, we think that training community activists with the knowledge they need to nudge their neighbours can harness their local knowledge, their “one-of-us” status, and their existing trusted relationships with their community.

Towards the end of last year we tested this approach in a two-day workshop. Twenty-five enthusiastic residents learned about the effects of personal, social and infrastructural factors on human behaviour, then worked together to apply this knowledge to Peterborough specific problems. After a pitch to a panel of judges, two ideas were selected for seed-funding and non-financial support to allow them to become pilot projects.

One of the pilots will encourage a wider segment of the community to manage local plots of unused land. The group behind this project plan to map unused land in their neighbourhood and throughout Peterborough, then run small interventions to encourage local people to take an active role in stewarding the land.

The other pilot will encourage residents living near an area of ancient woodland to take an active forest management role. Currently neglected and the scene of anti-social behaviour, the community decided to create a woodland walk to make walking through the forest a normal activity for local residents.

Part of this approach to local nudging was informed by a paper – The Ecology of Innovation – that we published just before Christmas. It presents a few simple principles that could be used to encourage and support local people in getting projects off the ground. These principles include ensuring that local community organisations are able to participate in contributing their ideas, and supporting their ideas with financial and non-financial support so that they can be tested. You can read the paper online or download it here.

In 2011, we’re looking forward to getting these ideas off the ground, and also holding more workshops to encourage and support more ideas that could make Peterborough into an even greener place to live!

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Bloggerscircle: why we need a plastic bag tax

bloggers-circleRob Greenland at The Social Business blog wrote, a couple of days ago:

It’s in the news today that supermarkets just missed their target of 50% reduction in plastic bag use (they got to 48%).  I’m not a big fan of supermarkets but I think on this one they need to be congratulated.  Remember the reaction against proposals to tax plastic bags, and how, many believed, people would never change their habits.

Far too many bags are still used but a 48% reduction is a massive improvement.  If businesses and the public can get their act together on this issue, what other seemingly impossible environmental problems might we solve?  It may also suggest that it’s better tonudge people into doing the right thing (like the clever question the checkout assistant was trained to ask), rather than taxing them into behavioural change.

50% sounds great, doesn’t it?

But in Ireland the introduction of a plastic bag tax in 2002 cut the use of plastic bags immediately by 90%, and created millions of Euros in government revenues which were pledged for use in environmental projects. Cutting ours by 50% is nothing to be proud of in comparison to that figure, especially as much of that 50% is people like Rob, me, and you, dear reader. The remaining 50% are inevitably going to be much harder to reach. Even with Tesco offering the carrot of Nectar card points for every bag reused, this is still too slow. It’s time to get out the sticks.

Like it or not, taxation is the most effective behaviour change lever government has. As Anthony Giddens suggests is in The Politics of Climate Change these are levers we’re going to have to use, and not be afraid of using. But the revenue used from these taxes must be used creatively and positively if we’re going to trust the system. Denmark’s carbon taxes, introduced in the 90s, have created an absolute fall in Co2 emissions from that country not only because they disincentivise carbon use, but because the revenue created by the fed directly back into subsidising energy-saving measures.

This post is part of a collaborative  initiative at

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology