It's been tagged the 'kitchen table conversation' approach. And if a recent trial is anything to go by it works. "Participants ... cut power use by 37 per cent and their carbon footprint by 27 per cent," says Paul Graham, one of the projects proponents. Now the search is on to find 500 folk who'll act as convenors of these kitchen conversations with family, friends, neighbours or workmates on the topics of energy, climate change, water and waste.
It is well known that we humans are herd animals and much of our changes in behaviour result from observing our peers. The Energymark program seems to know how effective this can be. Something that Environmental Psychologist, Doug McKenzie-Mohr, Ph.D. with his work on Fostering Sustainable Behavior through Community Based Social Marketing, has long known.Energymark is an initiative of Australia's premier scientific research institute, CSIRO, in particular, their Energy Transformed Flagship, which "aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions by providing sustainable, efficient, cost effective energy solutions for electricity supply and transport." The program has the support of the environment departments in the states of New South Wales and Queensland.
CSIRO's lead researcher, Paul Graham, says of the 500 prospective convenors: "They don't need to know a lot about energy or climate change to participate - they just need enthusiasm and some organisational skills." The CSIRO encourage the convenors to gather up 10 other folk for eight conversations on the likes of energy and water and they, CSIRO, will furnish the convenor with discussion notes, and a free copy of The CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook.
Doug McKenzie-Mohr's free PDF book on Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) explains why this method of peer related communication is more effective than bombarding the populace with posters, information leaflets, TV commercials and the like. Behavioural change occurs more often when we commit to that change in the company of our contemporaries.
For those of our readers not in those particular Australian states mentioned above, other possibilities are available. You could grab a copy of The CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook, or alternatively work through this PDF checklist of it's salient points to effectively lower your power needs and greenhouse gas emissions. Or, for the really dedicated, you could follow up on the many links and references provided in the book.