Here, we’ve cracked the code—behavioral change can help us take a step further in climate action!
Behavioral change reflects our changing attitudes, habits, and how we see the world, which ultimately influences our actions. Here, we’ve cracked the code—behavioral change can help us take a step further in climate action!
Here’s what we’ll cover step-by-step:
When leveraging the power of behavioral change in taking individual action, let's explore how it ultimately helps us move towards a safer and healthier planet for all!
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
Before we get you a yes-or-no answer to the question of this action pack, we need to first understand what behavior change actually means and how it works. Below is a little intro to behavioral psychology! You’re getting 3 recs on articles and books to explore.
Behavior change generally doesn’t happen in the way we think. The Heath brothers’ book Switch: How to change things when change is hard summarizes behavioral scientists’ work by saying most people think change happens in this order: ANALYZE-THINK-CHANGE. “But big change situations don’t look like that. In most change situations, the parameters aren’t well understood, and the future is fuzzy.”
They say “in almost all successful change efforts, the sequence of change is not ANALYZE-THINK-CHANGE but rather SEE-FEEL-CHANGE.”
For large interventions (like changing our gas guzzling ways, for example), we can look at the COM-B model.
The Decision Lab explains that a person’s capability, opportunity, and motivation are the three factors to changing the target behavior. In this reference guide, they show us three case studies on how to increase each of those levers.
Peer pressure is a powerful force.
Humans crave acceptance by our peers, which is one of the “real” reasons that behavior change absolutely does matter. The graph below shows why climate education is not enough. Not only is it helpful to change our behaviors, it’s helpful to model them to others.
When you read this Scientific American article on “What makes people act on climate change, according to behavioral science” you’ll see that some behaviors are also easier to influence than others. Wahoo!
In conclusion, our efforts in convincing people with facts that we need to “do more” on climate change probably isn’t working that well.
You don’t have to be a researcher to make a difference. It looks like you just have to make your own behavior changes and highlight them to others so they can SEE your example (from SEE-FEEL-CHANGE) and increase their own awareness of the OPPORTUNITY to do the same (from COM-B). Our approach to change ultimately matters.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
When thinking about behavioral change, your joy matters. It’s not frivolous. It’s what keeps your battery full to care about humans and the beautiful planet we live on.
Here’s a video on how to find joy in climate action. Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson adapts the Japanese concept of Ikigai for finding your purpose into a climate-focused Venn Diagram activity! Our individually guided climate solutions focus > obsessing about our individual footprints.
You’ll learn that:
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson says this in the video, and we’ll say it again: This is the work of our lifetimes. Be gentle with yourself.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
Now that you're here, as a climate leader (wahoo, great job), pick a high-impact action. If you haven’t done any of the actions below in your life, do it. It counts if you do it imperfectly, and once you start doing it, talk about it!
1. Remember what powers you and use it.
How cool is it that we literally get our energy from the sun?! Why the HECK are we relying on stinky gassy guys to fuel our world when we can go clean and green? Shifting the production of electricity off of fossil fuels and making it efficient can address a whopping 25% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Our partners at Rewiring America wrote a guide to electrifying everything in your home and it's the perfect place to get started (even if you don't live in the United States).
2. Shift to a plant-rich diet.
We covered this in greater detail in a previous Changeletter, but one palatable solution (get it) is simply starting by cutting out beef.
Habit changes can take a while, so if this scares you, here's an easier solution that you can enact way sooner: host a plant-based potluck! It's the perfect way to discuss the impacts of animal agriculture while making it fun and yummy for everyone.
3. Decide you are someone who WILL NOT let food go to waste.
When you host your plant-based potluck, make sure people bring to-go boxes. When your office caters lunch, don't let people leave until they take food home, or partner with a local food rescue org. It's honestly super fun to be That Person. Our founder, Nivi, was That Person at her own wedding and it was great. Our primitive brains hate wasting food and we're all relieved when someone offers us a solution.
4. Move differently.
Anything you can do to fly or drive less are major points for our team. Some immediate actions you can take: a) buy a rail pass and take a train trip with someone you love, b) go on a bike ride with your besties to remember how awesome it feels to be a carefree kid, and c) take this advocacy course on better bike infrastructure!
5. Identify or make at least one climate friend who lives near you!
We will never, ever, ever stop talking about how important community is. You need at least one friend in your life who lives near you with whom you can share your climate grief, swap stories of hope, and do shenanigans. You can borrow their stuff instead of buying new things and eat each other's leftovers and watch Blue Planet together. What's better than that?!
When people say, "there's not much individuals can do about climate change" or "it's all up to the corporations anyway,” they are simply incorrect. Systems that prioritize their greed over our wellbeing want to convince us that we have no power, and that our actions don't matter.
However, individual action comes a long way and there’s so much to celebrate!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
Celebrating your wins is an important and underrated climate solution. It's contagious! It gets the people going! Pick one thing to celebrate…forever. Our CELEBRATE module is quite simple.
Pick one individual behavior change to celebrate. It could be something as small as taking a minute before each meal, or something as large as giving up your gas-powered car. But, we want you to find the individual behavior change that is most sustainable to your life (as in, the change that you will sustain for years and years that excites you, not "sustainable" as in carbon footprint).
Imagine your MOST TIRED day when you have absolutely nothing left to give. What behavior change is so you that you'll still stick to it as best as you can?
Write this down somewhere (and bonus: share it on LinkedIn and tag Nivi; she’d love to compile these responses). Write it in a way that makes this your identity. Tie it to your character strengths for some real motivation. You don't have to do 100% of this behavior to write down your statement. Here are five generic examples*:
Once you have your statement, CELEBRATE at least one thing you did this month to make it true.
*Very important note: These behavior change statements will be inherently imperfect because we live in a system that is inherently harming us and our planet. These are your ideal behavior change statements. You may not achieve 100% of what you write now or ever, but you are choosing a statement that you feel called to.
Each and every win is worth celebrating, even if it feels small. We need to start seeing ourselves as change agents so we can actually use our behavior to influence others in a positive way.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!