“ You don’t use those words, though, do you?

You see them on packages” Focus group participant, Spring 2007

Words that sell
How the public talks about sustainability

Contents

Introduction

01 Introduction 02 What we learned 04 How to use this guide: Green Words Amber Words Red Words 05 Second Chance Waste and Smart Appliances ZERO WASTE LESS IS MORE SECOND CHANCE RUBBISH SMART versus GREEDY WATTAGE WASTAGE and CUT THE BUZZ SLIM BINS 09 Spurting and Savvy Driving FLIGHT ADDICT and HABITUAL FLYER SAVVY DRIVING NON-ESSENTIAL FLYING BINGE FLYING SPURTING THE MPG CHALLENGE (mpg = miles per gallon) STRESS-FREE MOTORING ECO-SAFE DRIVING 14 Sparks That Last IN-HOUSE GENERATION INDEPENDENT POWER FINITE ENERGY SOURCES SPARKS THAT LAST GREEN POWER POSTCODE POWER MICROGENERATION CONFLICT ENERGY 18 One Planet What? ONE PLANET LIVING GREEN and CONSCIOUS LIFESTYLES SQUARE DEAL GLOBALLY ALERT and CITIZEN CONSUMERS CARBON FOOTPRINT CLIMATE-FRIENDLY LIFE BLINKERED LIFESTYLE DEVELOPING / DEVELOPED WORLD POOR COUNTRIES / RICH COUNTRIES NORTH / SOUTH MY SLICE OF THE PIE 23 Overview: the findings

Contents

Words matter. They matter a great deal. Words bring ideas alive, make new concepts familiar, and can change the way we see the world. Marketers, journalists and those working in the media are acutely aware of the importance of words. There is a whole industry dedicated to perfecting copy. A PR company can spend days (or weeks, if the client is important enough) pondering a single line of text. In some cases, millions of pounds are spent on market testing one word. Yet those promoting sustainable development work with an inherited terminology cobbled together from science, economics and decades of policy making, pressure group campaigning and academic debate. Most people working in a sustainable development discipline know that their lexicon is often invisible to the majority of the public, and at worst alienating and off-putting to many non specialists. Understanding how the public responds to sustainability terminology isn’t simply a test of basic understanding of the words. Experts are careful to balance the ‘denotative’ meaning of words (the dictionary definition) with the ‘connotative’ associations, feelings and images a word conjures for the people who hear or use it. This short study by Futerra is designed to test the connotative meanings of both established and some newly coined sustainability terminology. We’ve picked up terms from government reports, NGO posters and business websites, and we’ve even made up a few original ones. The use of common words connects members of a community into a network with formidable collective powers. If sustainability is to become a persuasive vision, it needs a persuasive language. We hope this report is a first step in developing that language.

01 Futerra Words that sell

What we learned

Futerra commissioned focus group testing of the terminology used every day in the sustainable development community. Our team also coined some new sustainability words and phrases to see how they would be received by the public. While the responses to the specific terms themselves are fascinating, some clear conclusions emerged that can be applied across the whole sustainability lexicon; Common sense matters The most popular and effective terms we tested were familiar to people and sounded like ‘common sense’. Moral, obviously political or accusatory terms were strongly reacted against, but terms that ‘do exactly what it says on the tin’ were far more effective. Humour doesn’t hurt A few terms were seen to offer funny or tongue in cheek observations. These were often repeated by the participants, and people seemed overjoyed to be using an environmental terminology that wasn’t ‘aggressive’ or ‘fanatical’. The great British sense of irony and humour is an excellent starting point for developing terminology. The outright enthusiasm for these terms promise a real desire for a green language that is socially acceptable and fun. Guilt shuts us down ‘Psychological reactance’ is where people feel their freedoms are threatened and they therefore begin to defend them aggressively. This strong and sometimes outright angry response was generated by many of the terms we tested. This is deeply worrying for public acceptance of sustainability. Some of the pejorative terms (for unsustainable behaviour) we tested have the opposite effect of that intended, leading people to value and defend the behaviour associated with the unflattering term. Accusations of ‘being talked down to’, ‘manipulated’ or even of ‘propaganda’ are levelled at language that is associated with guilt. ‘We’ not ‘You’ Tapping into a sense of cooperation, community or shared interest appeared to resonate more with our focus groups than terms associated with individual or personal behaviours. We searched for sustainability terms that implied mass social action or generated ‘social proof’ to test, but found that most terms encourage atomised individual behaviour. Research consistently shows that we follow the behaviour we see around us rather than making isolated decisions. A terminology of sustainability ‘participation’ rather than ‘atomisation’ is urgently needed.

Words empathise and personify Too often, sustainability terms are used for their denotative/dictionary meaning but ignore their connotative associations. Terms that played on connotative meanings, for example by ‘personifying’ waste and implying it deserves a ‘second chance’ just as a person does, tested extremely well. Response to empathic and emotive words was enthusiastic. Smart and savvy rather than efficient People in our focus groups were quick to acknowledge various permutations of a win-win scenario. For example, ‘savvy driving’ can save money, save time, increase quality time with children and help the environment. This term allows people to associate themselves with the behaviour: smart people have savvy products. The term is preloaded to be positive and emotionally uplifting rather than terms such as ‘efficient’ that seemed good…but dull. Who wants to be an ‘environmentalist’? The hardest job was searching for positive, high-status sustainability terms that the public could use to label themselves. No-one in our groups referred to themselves an ‘environmentalist’, or even a ‘recycler’. The psychological research into ‘symbolic self-completion’ teaches us how crucial it is to have a defining term to support ongoing action. This is currently missing from sustainability terminology: we want to be a something… and no ‘something’ is forthcoming. Action speak louder than words True, but people need a terminology that they are familiar with to give context to actions, and to encourage others to undertake positive behaviours and avoid negative ones. The most positive outcome of this study was to identify a range of positive terminology associated with sustainable travel. The words do work.

No-one re fe to themse rred lv as a recyc es ler’

02 Futerra Words that sell

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How to use this guide

Second Chance Waste and Smart Appliances

Although more detailed focus group tested would be useful, we hope that the conclusions from this short study will be immediately useful for anyone trying to engage the public in attitude or behaviour change for sustainable development.

Words associated with waste and efficiency were the easiest to test; people understood the context, and most had taken some action. We didn’t test the word ‘recycling’, which has already entered the common lexicon.

As you’ll see, we tested a range of words and phrases, from common sustainable development terminology to new terms we thought might work. We have categorised the terms we tested in four typologies based on our findings:

ZERO WASTE
The term ‘zero waste’ was well received, and seemed to resonate with several people in the focus groups. “If only we could work towards the notion of zero waste. The whole business of fashion is ridiculous; no one wants things because they are the wrong colour” “We’ve got to work towards it; get the figure down”

AMBER WORDS GREEN WORDS
terms that people liked and understood words that might work, but were not entirely successful

Only one negative association was raised: that the term was pejorative.

RED WORDS

words that were easily misunderstood or disliked

“The only zero I think of is ‘zero tolerance’, like in New York. It’s too authoritarian. It’s about being told what to do”

LESS IS MORE
‘Less is more’ was interpreted as a reference to packaging and waste (rather than efficiency), an issue that raised temperatures. We also have also noted words that are still to be tested properly, because we didn’t get enough evidence to add them to our traffic light rating. At the end of each section we have also listed words that were totally ignored by respondents. These are words they did not want to discuss, and for our next research paper we’d love to discover why not. “Packaging drives me bananas – it’s such a waste” “There’s too much waste. It’s ridiculous” “It annoys me; it didn’t use to be like this” “You pay money for packaging, then throw it away” There were many positive responses to ‘less is more’ and associated sayings such as ‘one man’s waste is another man’s asset’ that we introduced to the group. “It makes me think of when I was little and my mum used a hessian bag” “Someone else can use what you don’t want” “I come at it in a philosophical sense. Less is more” This term also initiated comments about the wider principle of sustainable living. “Use this slogan to come up with an eco-friendly life: chuck out lots, prioritise, get rid of clutter and nick-nacks, put a whole new head on”

“It annoys me it didn’t us ; e be like this to ”

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Second Chance Waste and Smart Appliances

Packaging is therefore an extremely useful ‘entry point’ for discussions of sustainability. Common wisdom has decided that to be angry and frustrated about packaging is a socially acceptable position. Terms such as ‘less is more’ applied in this context aid familiarity (crucial for social acceptance) and confidence in discussing the issue.

Some recognised that ‘smart’ fridges and washing machines already exist. It is worth noting that respondents were very comfortable with both ‘smart’ and ‘savvy’ and yet no-one mentioned ‘efficient’, a word that our research suggests is not in common parlance. On ‘energy-greedy’ appliances, some immediately assumed the term was a label that would be shown “on high-energy appliances, like tumble driers and electric fires”. “A useful notice, not a propaganda exercise. It will save on our bills” “‘Labelling on electrical appliances, to dissuade us to buy it” The personification of ‘energy greedy’ was easily understood and translated to domestic appliances such as TVs left on, or on standby, for long periods of time. “It would dissuade people from buying it – think twice about switching on” “It makes me think of the wheel on the electricity meter” The last comment, which shows that the term creates a mental picture of energy use, is very encouraging. Anything that builds an understanding of energy use should be welcomed. Of course, the barriers to behaviour change still remain, and unfortunately no clever word will change that. “We leave on three TVs when we are not watching them – it takes so much energy”

SECOND CHANCE RUBBISH
The concept of ‘second chance rubbish’ was an attempt to add to the terminology of recycling and proved quite successful. Most powerful was the implicit anthropomorphism of rubbish that created empathy with waste. “You give a person a second chance; it’s worked for a while so you give it another chance” “It gives rubbish a personality – a second chance” It was also associated with “vintage fashion, second hand clothes” and “refurbished scanners”. Something quite complex was going on here, related to the merits of ‘new’ versus ‘used’ and the changing relationship emerging with both concepts. This concept of personification deserves much more attention in terms of the value placed on resources. Many attempts have been made to give resources and waste tangible or financial value, but this research identifies a potential ‘emotional value’.

SMART versus GREEDY
One of the most powerful dynamics was in the comparison between ‘smart’ appliances and ‘energy-greedy’ ones. Unexpectedly, respondents assumed these terms were intended as official labels that would be visible at the point of sale! The word ‘smart’ in particular was seen as an implicit compliment for those who chose clever appliances. “Clever enough not to waste energy” “It’s clever; more expensive to buy, but cheaper in the long term” “Run on something that’s better for the environment, like Smart cars. They don’t waste energy” “Or washing machines that turn themselves off”

WATTAGE WASTAGE and CUT THE BUZZ
Two new terms that received interesting but mixed responses were ‘wattage wastage’ and ‘cut the buzz’. ‘Wattage wastage’ was thought to relate both to home and business environments. “‘Things in the home and in offices as well. It’s madness; why not turn off?” “This is down to electricity, lights, bulbs” “Leaving lights on, left on standby – I’m paranoid about waste” For most, ‘wattage’ refers specifically to light bulbs, although the alliteration was regarded as light-hearted and therefore welcomed. ‘Cut the buzz’ was intended to inspire a feeling of electrical equipment filling a room with an unpleasant low-level noise, helping people to remember to switch off unnecessary lights and devices. For some this worked well. “Turn it off; don’t leave phone chargers on overnight; no white noise” For others, however, the term related to the media ‘buzz’ about the environment. As a phrase, ‘cut the buzz’ deserves more testing, and may be more effective when tested with visual or audio prompts.

ish ubb – r ives nality nce.” g “`It erso cha a p cond a se

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Spurting and Savvy Driving

“`Pu t le in, n ss rubb o the b t feedin ish g in.”
SLIM BINS
Another of our attempts to personify a term was to associate waste efficiency with eating less or dieting. This worked for some. “Put less rubbish in, not feeding the bin” “If you recycle most stuff then you won’t have a big fat bin” However, there was significant confusion over the meaning of this phrase, and some felt personally insulted by terminology around weight and eating. Terms concerned with travel and transport were the most contentious and likely to elicit psychological reactance and accusations of propaganda. However, they were also the terms where social proof was weakest – people openly disagreed with each other and demonstrated anxiety about ‘the right thing to do’.

FLIGHT ADDICT and HABITUAL FLYER
Surprisingly, the accusatory term ‘flight addict’ was rather popular, and the only term that was associated with personal holiday flying. “Some people are just so set in their ways – going to the Costa del Sol every year” “They don’t look at other options”
This is one of the very few terms in the research that was liked for its tongue-in-cheek humour.

STILL TO TEST
Other terms Futerra would like to test include: 1. ‘Landfill bins’ versus ‘Recycling bins’ 2. Cut, collect and combine 3. Bin-free environment 4. Built-in waste 5. Leak-free energy

“It’s a joke, a bit cheeky, a bit of a dig” Similarly, the phrase ‘habitual flyer’ created a mental image of a socially unacceptable person, and was one of the few terms that also elicited spontaneous discussion of alternatives to flying. “It’s someone who flies a lot. Flies to Scotland when they could take the train”

IGNORED WORDS
• Resource efficiency • Energy efficiency

“It’s mainly habit. They fly to Manchester when they could make a conference call” We have judged these terms to be useful and readily applicable, although with the warning that all travel terminology isn’t without risk. “You can’t stop people living their life”

“The y at oth don’t loo k er op tions ”

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Spurting and Savvy Driving

NON-ESSENTIAL FLYING
This term prompted heated debate between respondents, partly focused on the definition of ‘essential’. “They always get at us. What is essential? We are all different. Most flights are essential; if it’s quick it’s quick” “If it’s essential to you and you want to fly, then go and do it. You work every day of your life, so you want to take your family on holiday” “I don’t think this is going to go anywhere. I cannot see people saying, ‘I’ll only take one holiday, not two’” “How many people in the world take non-essential flights? I bet it’s a tenth of one percent” Concerns were raised about who decided what was essential and what wasn’t. Interestingly, flights weren’t generally referred to as ‘pleasant’ or ‘desirable’ but rather as a necessary and unavoidable means of getting to a holiday destination. Views on business flying were less polarised, with a majority feeling confident to condemn the rich and privileged. “Non-essential flying is when businesses fly people all round the world, and the royals in their private jets” Although ‘non-essential flying’ is currently used (especially by government) to avoid the perception of an attack on holiday flights, its ambiguity actually has the opposite effect. Respondents worried that ‘non-essential’ equals ‘non-business’, and the ambiguity therefore leaves open the interpretation of a direct attack on family holidays!

BINGE FLYING

“ Ho w unat that tractive ever is in y wa y”

Although obviously a more aggressive attack upon flying, this phrase was less ambiguous and was clearly understood to refer to excessive flying. “How unattractive that is in every way” “Greedy and grabbing, but not thought through properly “It’s the same category as a binge drinker” The term was clearly associated with wealthy or privileged people. “Excessive behaviour and drinking champagne on the plane” However, the term is still classified as amber in our traffic light rating because, for some, it was at odds with their perceptions of flying. “Fashionable – like it’s fashionable to have a tan” We believe that this term might be used successfully for excessive business flying, especially when associated with ‘fat cat’ terminology.

SPURTING
This is a term currently used by some pressure groups to define non-essential flying. The term totally polarised the two socio-economic groups we tested. Many of those with a middle class outlook could barely bring themselves to say it out loud, whereas working class respondents considered it witty and apt. “People would say, ‘what is that?’ It’s spurting out fuel, rushing from one place to another, using too much fuel… spurting it away” Despite the positive response from some, the discomfort created by the term in others is cause for using the term with care

“They alw a get at us. ys is essenti What al?”

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Spurting and Savvy Driving

SAVVY DRIVING
Of all the terms researched, this had perhaps the greatest appeal with people across the focus groups. Depending on your outlook, ‘savvy’ could imply either ‘intelligent decisions’ or ‘good common sense’. While it could have an environmental or resource connotation, ‘savvy driving’ is more likely to capture the understanding that we can all change aspects of our driving behaviour to reduce costs and unnecessary waste. “Drive clever and drive the right sort of car” “Savvy is about being smart” Some observed their own illogical and lazy behaviour, such as sitting in the school run when it would be quicker to walk. This also has positive aspects, such as “chat time for me and my daughter”. “If you could see the queue of traffic outside my daughter’s school…” Excitingly for sustainable development, ‘savvy driving’ associations weren’t just with unnecessary journeys. “The way a person drives: turning off the engine, driving slowly, using your eco-brain, car pooling, don’t waste petrol” It was even suggested that it could have street appeal. “Some see savvy driving as cooler than eco-driving”

STRESS-FREE MOTORING
Some respondents strongly identified with the desire for stress-free driving. “Starting and leaving work early to avoid the traffic”

“Sav vy bein is abou g sm t art”

“Sharing a journey” “Stress-free driving is about guilt-free driving, like car-sharing. A lot of this eco green stuff is about guilt” However, for some the concept was totally alien. “I love driving and don’t see why people get stressed” More research is needed for this term to determine the demographic that is likely to respond most positively.

ECO-SAFE DRIVING
To put it bluntly, this term wasn’t discussed – simply laughed at.

STILL TO TEST
Other terms Futerra would like to test include: Anti-social driving Gas-savvy

THE MPG CHALLENGE (MPG = MILES PER GALLON)
The principle of the challenge was recognised and was linked to “Chelsea tractors; if they drive a mile it’s cost a pound in petrol”. Others recognised that it has a wider focus, encouraging people “to be more aware of how your car performs in terms of petrol”. However, this term doesn’t get a green rating because only some people (mainly men) in the groups knew what MPG stands for.

IGNORED WORDS
There were no ignored words in this topic.

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Sparks That Last

We assumed that words associated with energy would be readily understood. However, many terms that have become familiar (and, in some cases, almost clichéd) to sustainability professionals are still new and unfamiliar to the general public. This provides a real window of opportunity to reconsider our terminology and choose options that are potentially more successful.

FINITE ENERGY SOURCES
This term seemed both easily understood and non-contentious. “Coal and wood that is naturally depleting, not being replaced” It also raised issues of access and equity, “because the world is over-populated”.

IN-HOUSE GENERATION
This term was seen in the context of domestic energy, and carried positive associations. “Generating power within your home, solar power, self-sufficient, self-reliant, solar power and double glazing, treble glazing”

SPARKS THAT LAST
This phrase was liked by those for whom the use of ‘sparks’ was inextricably linked to electricians (or ‘sparkies’). For many this was described as ‘catchy’, implying “electric to last; guaranteed power”. However, despite its positive association, the term was found to be rather ambiguous, and should only be used within a clear context.

“ It does w it says o hat n the tin”

“There are self-sufficient houses in some areas of the country” Respondents gave unexpectedly clear feedback about why this was a positive term. “It’s punchy and positive. It’s not offensive, it’s not aggressive and it’s not political” “It does what it says on the tin” This ‘neutrality’ was seen as a real benefit of the term, especially when compared with others. ‘Doing exactly what it says on the tin’ is widely regarded as a very good thing.

GREEN POWER
This was generally thought to mean “creating power using air, wind and water”. One focus group member also saw it as a play on ‘girl power’. Interestingly, the use of ‘green’ opened up a wider discussion about the word itself. “It needs to be protected” “It’s on the way to being devalued” In fact, it’s this association that convinced us to rate ‘green power’ as amber rather than green. Not everyone feels as strongly about ‘natural’ issues as they might about energy. We need to avoid assuming that the public holds consistent environmental views.

INDEPENDENT POWER
This was also seen as a positive phrase. “The energy companies obviously don’t want it” “If your home heats itself you’re not dependent on big companies” Being independent of big companies was seen as slightly rebellious and positive as ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’. However, some concern was raised about the possibility of this independence.. “We don’t build our homes in that way; we’ve missed the opportunity”

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Sparks That Last

POSTCODE POWER
This was an attempt to explain decentralised energy systems. Some understood that the term alludes to local power sources. “It means local” “It suggests that you’re helping in some way”

that ests ng gg “It su re helpi you’ me way ” in so

STILL TO TEST
Other terms Futerra would like to test include:

1. Everybody is an energy company 2. Resilient renewables 3. Grid-free energy 4. DIY energy

However for others there is a negative link with the more established concept of the ‘postcode lottery’. “You can get treatment in some parts of the country but not in others” Therefore, while this phrase has some traction, it must be used consistently for people to be clear about its meaning.

IGNORED WORDS
Renewable energy Decentralised energy

MICROGENERATION
Not only was ‘microgeneration’ not understood, it was selected as a disliked word. The most common interpretation was that ‘micro’ referred to tiny energy sources, such as might be found in a mobile phone. “It’s a microchip, isn’t it?” “Things getting smaller and smaller” With better words available, a tough decision needs to be made about continuing to use terms like these which the public doesn’t grasp.

CONFLICT ENERGY
This is one of the terms that raise people’s hackles. “It makes me angry” The respondent who wanted to discuss this word chose it because he didn’t like it. It’s clearly pejorative and in danger of creating a negative reaction.

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One Planet What?

The final group of words tested was associated with footprints and global equity. These were the most difficult to get people to understand, but the least contentious of all the terms tested.

GLOBALLY ALERT and CITIZEN CONSUMERS
We assumed that ‘globally alert’ would be regarded as a distant or even negative term. However, this phrase seems to convey a sense that we can make a difference together. “Do what you can, making a difference as individuals” “This is about not being insular – thinking globally, acting locally” “You cannot change the world single handed. It’s about being globally aware – the world’s population can attack the issues” The term was associated with another, ‘citizen consumers’, which also enjoyed a positive response. “We are all responsible for what we do. Responsible for ourselves and our households” “It means taking responsibility for yourself” These two terms don’t seem to suffer from the problem that ‘it refers to someone else’, and even encourage personal responsibility. While not necessarily familiar or elegant terms, they tap into a growing feeling of the need for individual action.

ONE PLANET LIVING
This was liked, although interestingly no one mentioned having come across it before. It was seen to capture a sense of global community and shared values. “Not going off on our own tangents; everyone pulling together, in the right direction to stop destroying things; nurturing what we have got; everyone doing something” “The governments need to make an impact to get this one off the ground” “We need to stop destroying things and nurture what we have left” “Everyone is doing something now” The most encouraging part of this response is that it is associated with peace and accord as well as environmental sustainability. However, it was generally felt to denote government responsibility rather than personal behaviour.

GREEN and CONSCIOUS LIFESTYLES
“Everyo ne doing so is mething now”
‘Green lifestyle’ was liked as a straightforward and meaningful statement: “Get to the source of the problem; but not obsessive or religious about the environment” A conscious lifestyle reflects a need to think more about the fact that “we live in a material world. Things I like to do, places I like to go. I identify with that”. While both were seen as ‘fluffy’ terms, people still felt positively about them.

CARBON FOOTPRINT
This term was generally liked and has clear imagery. “What you leave behind” “It’s not about blame, it’s about responsibility” “It says it clearly” However, few had ever heard the term, while one observed that “carbon – you get that everywhere, don’t you?” An associated term that was also liked was the idea of a ‘positive footprint’. So much of the green footprint terminology deals with mitigating negative impacts that it ignores the desire of many people to make a good impression. “We all leave a trail behind us. We’d like the world to be a nice place when they grow up” “If we could all make our footprints a bit more positive, we could really do something” This association of footprint with positive impacts as well as negative ones is a useful development in the sustainable development terminology.

SQUARE DEAL
The phrase ‘square deal actions’ was associated with positive ethical and environmental principles. “If we didn’t care we wouldn’t have Fairtrade” “It’s a Fairtrade thing, isn’t it? A square deal is a fair deal” “We are becoming aware that the Earth is finite” Again, this term plays on common sense and common language – and benefits in testing as a result.

“We are becoming aware that the Earth is finite”

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One Planet What?

CLIMATE-FRIENDLY LIFE
This term has the potential to communicate a broad spectrum picture of environmentally-conscious living, and it triggers emotional responses. “I think this is a bit of a daydream, but I think how lovely it would be for the children to grow up in such a climate-friendly world. Green fields, fresh air and less pollution” However, that response is also a warning signal about the ‘achievability’ of the term. One person also observed that “we don’t control the climate!”

DEVELOPING / DEVELOPED WORLD
These were surprisingly contentious terms. It was suggested that the phrase ‘developed world’ is arrogant and hides problems in our own society “‘This is sarcastic. Developed in what way? We still have a lot of truancy, poverty …” “There’s lots of stuff that happens in Third World countries that happens in developed countries – it’s just hidden”

POOR COUNTRIES / RICH COUNTRIES
Associated with ‘developing / developed world’ were the concepts of ‘poor countries / rich countries’, which also raised deep concerns. “‘We are dependent on having poor countries” “We have lots of strategies to make sure they stay as poor as long as possible” “Are we prepared to give up what we’ve got?” “We cannot have the whole world wasting at the level we do. Poor countries have a right not to be poor. As soon as they exercise that right, we have serious problems” The whole global equity issue was very emotionally worrisome for participants. “Very concerning, serious problems around the corner for my children” These terms therefore have an amber rating: use them with care. Although those of us involved in sustainable development may use them blithely, they are value-laden for the public.

BLINKERED LIFESTYLE
Respondents identified with this term and the dilemmas they face. “I do worry, but it doesn’t stop me getting on a plane” “People can talk about it but don’t do anything” “We can’t keep blaming ourselves, choosing to go through life without taking note of all the issues” It also evoked anger at the concept of double standards. “It’s up to the government – why has Prescott got two cars and they tell you not to get in your car?” Although understandable and liked, the term is rated amber because of the apathy and fatalism it generated.

but o worry, top “I d ts it doesn’ g on me gettin a plane”

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One Planet What?

Overview: the findings

NORTH / SOUTH
Red terms within the same area were ‘North / South’. When understood in an international context the terms were disliked. In addition, some respondents thought the terms referred to the north and south of the UK. “I don’t like it; the North-South divide”

GREEN WORDS

terms that people liked and understood

AMBER WORDS
words that might work, but were not entirely successful

RED WORDS

words that were easily misunderstood or disliked

MY SLICE OF THE PIE
Although intended to imply a move towards equity, the concept of ‘my slice of the pie’ suggested individualism and people looking after their own interests. “I’m alright Jack; pull up the ladder” This also spontaneously (and unexpectedly) seemed to initiate anti-American feeling. “One American uses as much energy as thirty Indians” “Americans eat as much as they can, but they don’t know where Canada is. They are insular” “They’ve got a big slice of the pie” This term should therefore be avoided unless carefully placed in context. Rather than generating a feeling that everyone deserves a fair slice, it leads to feeling of being ‘hard done by’ in an UK audience. ENERGY TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT WASTE AND EFFICIENCY

Zero waste Less is more Second chance rubbish Smart appliances Energy-greedy appliances Flight addict Habitual flyer Savvy driving

Wattage wastage Cut the buzz

Slim bins

Non-essential flying Binge flying Spurting The MPG challenge Stress-free motoring Sparks that last Green power Postcode power

Eco-safe driving

In-house generation Independent power Finite energy sources

Microgeneration Conflict energy

STILL TO TEST
Other terms Futerra would like to test include:

FOOTPRINTS AND GLOBAL EQUITY

1. Eco-savvy life 2. Living lightly 3. Green legacy

One Planet Living Green lifestyle Conscious lifestyle Square deal Globally alert Citizen consumers Carbon footprint Positive footprint

Climate-friendly life Blinkered lifestyle Developing / developed world Poor countries / rich countries

North / South My slice of the pie

IGNORED WORDS
Environmental footprint Low-carbon living

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The research

These research findings centre on qualitative research planned and commissioned by Futerra, and undertaken by OnEarth. The qualitative research consisted of two focus groups held in London during Spring 2007. The aim was to test a series of established and new terms describing sustainable lifestyles with members of the public, to understand which ones work, which ones don’t work – and why. Participants were drawn from a mixture of life stages: parents, young adults and older people. One focus group was composed of people from the socioeconomic group ABC1, and the other from C2DE. 1

GROUP 1 GENDER AGE SOCIO-ECONOMIC GROUP
MALE/FEMALE (4/4) 25-44/45-64/65+(3/3/2) ABC1 (8)

GROUP 2
MALE/FEMALE (4/4) 25-44/45-64/65+(3/3/2 C2DE (8)

We excluded people describing themselves as ‘environmental activists’ to ensure that no-one in the room could present themselves as an ‘expert’ to the other participants.

WHAT NExT?
The direction of this research is fascinating, but it’s only one study. Focus groups in different parts of the country, drawn from urban and rural populations and including a greater variety of demographics, would greatly increase the insights available. Futerra intends to build upon and supplement this research over the coming year.

1 The

socio-economic grades A, B, C1, C2, D and E are often grouped into ABC1 and C2DE. These are taken to equate to ‘middle class’ and ‘working class’ respectively.

24 Futerra Words that sell

Thanks to the authors of the following books: The Power of Words: Advertising tricks of the trade Richard F Taflinger The Language Instinct: How the mind creates language Steven Pinker
Special thanks to OnEarth www.onearthresearch.co.uk

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