Hubbub x Clarasys: teamwork makes the dreamwork – PODCAST

We speak to environmental charity Hubbub about all things employee engagement, motivatiors and knowledge sharing in the sustainability space.

Hubbub x Clarasys: teamwork makes the dreamwork – PODCAST

We speak to environmental charity Hubbub about all things employee engagement, motivatiors and knowledge sharing in the sustainability space.


Meet the author

Sam Maguire

Sustainability Lead

Sarah Hammond

Senior Consultant

Environmental charity Hubbub UK’s Creative Partner Sarah Divall chats to Clarasys’ own Sam Maguire and Sarah Hammond about our partnership.

In the fourth episode of ‘Clarasys presents: Simply Sustainability’, the two Sarah’s and Sam discuss all things Hubbub and Clarasys. They touch on; the great initiatives that Hubbub run to create a more sustainable world, why simplifying language around sustainability is so important, why collaboration is crucial when it comes to sustainability, fun ways you can engage your employees and the impact employee engagement can have towards a more sustainable future. Listen here or read on for an edited transcript.

Sarah Hammond: This podcast episode is to introduce an exciting collaboration between the experience consulting firm Clarasys and Hubbub, an organization who runs creative campaigns to encourage positive everyday actions for the environment.

Sarah Hammond: Now, we’re going to delve a little bit deeper and discuss more about our organizations and the importance of employee engagement, employee knowledge, sharing, motivations. But first of all, just wanted to introduce ourselves so Sarah Divall could I ask you to introduce yourself?

Sarah Divall: I’m from the environmental charity, Hubbub. I’m a creative partner there and I’m here today to talk a little bit about the work that we do with companies all across the UK.

Sarah Hammond: Amazing. Thank you. And Sam?

Sam Maguire: Thanks Sarah. So I’m the Sustainability lead at Clarasys so leading all of our work with clients to help them improve their impact on people and planet, and ensuring that we are, as positive a contributor to society and the environment as possible internally as well.

Sarah Hammond: Awesome. And, I’m Sarah Hammond. So also work at Clarasys – a senior consultant. Currently studying my master’s in sustainable development and very passionate and dedicated to the space.

Sarah Hammond: So Sarah it would be great if you could just tell us a little bit more about Hubbub, the work you do in the sustainability space and all about it.

Who are Hubbub?

Sarah Divall: Yeah, absolutely so Hubbub is an environmental charity and we were set up about, I would say six years ago now, it feels like a long time, but it was set up by three co-founders who had been working for different organizations in this space for a while and felt like there was a space and a kind of need for an organization that really spoke to the mainstream public about sustainability.

Sarah Divall: I think at the time, a lot of the language that was being used around sustainability was quite complicated and jargon-heavy. There was a lot of focus on things like your personal carbon footprint and lots of numbers. And, it was a bit dry. And the other side of the spectrum was kind of polar bears floating off, into ice.

Sarah Divall: So, you know, something that was happening really really far away or something that was quite complicated. So they wanted to set up an organization that was more about people’s everyday lives and connecting them with sustainability, in the small moments in your day where you can make changes that seem small, but actually, add up to be something quite impactful. So we wanted to engage people through, things they were really passionate about. So through food, through fashion, through the homes they lived in through the neighbourhoods that they’re a part of to try and get people, to see how these small changes can really have a positive impact on you personally, and your family as well as for the environment.

Sarah Divall: So we run campaigns on honestly, all sorts of things. A couple of the ones that I think we’re really proud of, one is the community fridge network.

Sarah Divall: We have a network of community fridges all across the UK that are run by people in their local communities. So we have over a hundred fridges and the idea is that anyone can leave food and anyone can take it away. So it becomes a really easy to access site where people can, you know, if they’re going on holiday and they need to clear out their fridge, they can make sure that it doesn’t go to waste.

They also link up with supermarkets in the local areas and as well as sharing food, it teaches people how to cook. Some of them have allotments, it’s a place where people can go once a week. They know they’re going to see the same faces and have started to build a little bit of a community around it. So we’re really proud of that one.

Sarah Divall: And the other one is community calling where people can donate their old iPhones that are sat lying around in drawers and probably destined for landfill and they get refurbished and sent on to people in the community who are digitally isolated. So both of those projects, I think have something that can be really good for you personally can also be good for the climate.

Sarah Hammond: Definitely. And that was absolutely amazing to hear about. And I think you touched upon a couple of really important aspects. One being how important language is for it to be both accessible and not intimidating because I don’t think it can be underestimated how much that can actually throw people from getting involved, having the discussion, or even being able to see how it relates to them.

Sarah Hammond: So I think that’s a massively important, area that sustainability has to be really aware of. The second one about the food kitchens, I think is a really good example of how much community is part of sustainability and how by helping the environment and reducing food waste actually is a massive opportunity for the community to get together and increase social wellbeing.

And it’s those stories I think that really are a good representation of all of the aspects that sustainability encompasses. but those sound like absolutely incredible initiatives as ours. Thank you for telling us about them.

Why language is important when discussing sustainability?

Sarah Divall: Yeah, I think you touched on two really interesting points there actually, and just on the language one, I’ve been researching this for a different project at the moment, but thinking about how the way that climate change is spoken about in the press, changes how we feel about it. And I found out that in 2001,a person in the Republican party decided that they should switch from using the word global warming to climate change because it sounded less urgent. It sounded like something that was happening quite passively.

Sarah Divall: Whereas global warming sounded like something that needed to be treated more urgently and it was also decided that they would focus on the indecision in the scientific community. So at that time, they were still saying things like 99% of scientists agree that climate change is real. So focusing on that kind of 1% of doubt, rather than focusing on the action of what needed to be done.

Sarah Divall: So I think that years of real misdirection and a misunderstanding of what was happening to our climate has meant that, for a long time, and especially when I started, which was, I started at Hubbub five years ago. And I think that people were far more openly sceptical about climate change then than they are now.

Sarah Divall: And there’s been a real shift in the way that people talk about it, especially in the press, where you’ll see, climate emergency and red alert for humanity, which five years ago, I think would have been pretty unimaginable.

The media are simplifying sustainability

Sam Maguire: Just just on that, Sarah, I think that’s so interesting. And one of the things that I can really see changing, is the ability for the media to communicate really complex, sustainability pieces, be it around carbon budget or around biodiversity loss, relatively technical in much more digestible ways. I think that’s really accelerated in the last six months as well. With most of the mainstream media building up towards cop and beyond they’re making it much easier for people to understand. If we think about historically that the main people leading the fight around, climate change and other environmental pieces being scientists and, charities.

Sam Maguire: It’s great that this is coming into the mainstream in both really educational, but also interesting ways and the media really taken hold.

Sarah Divall: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and now the movement is being led by school kids. Right. So it’s definitely easier to digest. And I think that that’s definitely why Hubbub decided that they wanted to set out to make it really relatable and I think there’s an echo there in what companies can do for people by, digesting really complicated information and being able to present it in a way that’s really useful and helpful to people. because you’ve got the time and resources to be able to do that in a way that employees might not in their personal lives.

Sarah Hammond: I think this is a really nice link actually, in terms of how Clarasys works in the sustainability space and how passionate we are about making it achievable, making it doable, breaking down that strategy into a transformation roadmap, and really helping our clients on their journey. And Sam, I think it would be great to hear a little bit more about sustainability at Clarasys some of the work we’ve been doing and how we want to help our clients.

Sustainability work at Clarasys

Sam Maguire: Yeah, absolutely. Sarah. So, you’ve hit the nail on the head in terms of, although things are getting more understandable, in terms of the core concepts that sustainability might cover, a lot of our clients or the organizations out there are now going through that transition of, okay, we get what sustainability means, but what do we do?

Sam Maguire: Where do we start? How do we prioritize? So the big thing for Clarasys is – one, for those people who are still working that out. Helping them with that strategy and building out the roadmap. So thinking through which. areas of sustainability are most material to them, how that applies to different areas of their organization and how we can integrate that into their roadmaps, their plans that they’re already in place or where we need to create new initiatives, new frameworks, et cetera.

Sam Maguire: We’re also really, related to the work that Hubbub are doing and trying to work with clients on their, skills gap. So understanding how they really need to redesign their organizations to be more sustainable. How they need to rethink the teams, the people, the skills that they need to have as an organization to make decisions, in more sustainable ways considering the environmental and social impact, which is such a diversion from what a lot of people have had to do in the past.

Sam Maguire: The drivers and the decision making were normally customer experience related or cost drivers or revenue generation. Now we want to be helping clients with how to build people who are, able to factor sustainability, considerations into their decision-making.

Sam Maguire: And then some of the other areas we’ve got quite a broad pool of services that we’re offering in this space. We’re helping clients with their sustainability reporting. So gathering data, making it usable at the right times to inform decisions.

Sam Maguire: We are helping clients with. their circularity. So understanding their resource and waste across the organization and how they can reduce that resource, use how they can think about waste differently. And we’re really trying to help clients think about their customer experience as well. So how can they rethink. the way that they offer their products or services to customers today to one, ensure that customers know the sustainability credentials of what they’re offering to make effective decisions, but can also participate in that process.

Sam Maguire: So can actually make sure that they are, doing the right things to make it a, fully sustainable journey? You can offer a great product to a customer, but unless they’re engaged with potentially returning it at the end or reselling it at the end then actually can you really claim for it to be a fully sustainable and circular way of doing things.

Sam Maguire: So those are the areas that we’re helping, clients with at the moment. We’ve been doing some really exciting work with a pub chain, Peach pubs, where we’re helping them with, understanding how they, communicate their sustainability to, their network. We have a number of charities with their, their, sustainability strategy, and helping them understand what’s material to them and where to start.

We’re just starting a big piece of work, with a client around, their carbon emissions reporting and helping them understand how best to automate and integrate their, carbon emissions reporting process to make it as effective and streamlined as possible, which is a challenge that we’re all going to face over, the next couple of years.

Sarah Hammond: Just to touch upon the so many different things in that, which is really exciting. But I think one of them in terms of reporting is really important, not only for an organization to be able to see where they need to make change, where they are now making change, but also because there’s that demand now from customers and from employees to see that the proof’s in the pudding in that they can’t just say eco anymore. And it comes down to that language piece of actually wanting to see the numbers and seeing the real impacts that companies and organizations are having on the planet. I think there’s that real demand from both customers, employees at the moment, which is making reporting such a vital aspect to how an organization runs their sustainability practices.

Sam Maguire: Yeah, absolutely. And I think one of the things that was in my mind as Sarah was talking through, the community aspect of the work that they do is there’s the reporting piece in terms of the reporting that we need to do for accreditation to meet legislative requirements. But there’s a wider piece about how you communicate with one, your employees, your customers, but also the communities that you work, with and around. So actually helping them understand what you offer, how you can support the local communities is a really important piece for us. Because we want to move people beyond an understanding of corporate social responsibility, where you engage with the local communities once, twice a year through a volunteering initiative and more about having an integrated dialogue with communities through your work. So I’m really interested to explore that with Hubbub as we build our relationship.

Sarah Hammond: Great. Thank you, Sam. I think that touched on quite an important sustainability point of this ecosystem of partners and enabling wider perspectives in decision-making is a really, really important core part to make sure that all stakeholder perspectives are actually being taken on board. And I think it will be great to hear a little bit more from you both about Hubbub and Clarasys shared vision and goals.

Sarah Hammond: Why are we a good partnership? Why are we working together? Sarah, it would be great to hear from you.

People want purposeful

Sarah Divall: Yeah, absolutely. I will dive into that, but before I do, I want to pick up on something that you said, Sarah, which was about, a desire from employees and from people and from employers to, show that they’re being more sustainable and that becoming such a big part of why people are choosing to go to organizations or to move to organizations because they think that they have got strong ethical practices because they really believe in the mission of the organization, I think is becoming far more important for people. So it’s really heartening to see that that is becoming a reason why people make such a big decision, like changing jobs or moving to a different organization.

so this is really an amazing time to be able to show people inside and outside of organizations that you’re trying to make a difference. That, you have these values embedded in what you’re doing, which you guys do so clearly, but I think is becoming more important for a lot of businesses. And I didn’t know whether you’ve seen that with other businesses that you work with, that it was starting to become a bigger consideration.

Sarah Hammond: I think probably the best example is how we’re seeing it within Clarasys at the moment. In terms of when it comes to our sustainability proposition, there was such a clear demand and motivation from everyone within the business to want to do this type of work.

Sarah Hammond: And equally from those who’ve recently joined on our graduate scheme and recently joined the business. You can see that real passion in everyone to want to contribute. So I think organizations having a really similar experience and I mean, there’s been a lot of analysis and reporting that people would choose an organization with more purpose-driven, strategy over a job that would actually pay more. So I think it is, becoming far more common, but also more felt and a little bit more spoken about.

Sam Maguire: Just to add to that – so we’re working with a number of charity clients who work in the nonprofit sector. A lot of them are seeing that people are not just comfortable now with saying “I’m working for a charity that’s delivering a great purpose”. They’re also asking the fundamental questions of “how are we operating as an organization that has environmental and social considerations woven through everything that we do?”. And I think that’s really interesting because it’s now not enough for people just to be contributing to a purpose, it’s also making sure that it’s credible, and trustworthy through everything that organization does.

Sarah Divall: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a really, really good point. I guess it’s starting to widen how people feel about ethics and sustainability, but it’s very interesting. I can talk about it all day.

Why are Hubbub and Clarasys working together?

Sarah Divall: But to go back to your earlier question, which was about why you think that Hubbub and Clarasys are a good match for this. And I think there are actually loads of similarities in the way that our organizations work and our outlook on things. But I think one of the key ones is collaboration. And the way that we work at Hubbub is certainly very collaborative. And I know that it is, for you guys as well, but really looking at what is the power of all of these people that we’re bringing together and all of these different organizations that we’re working with? How can we multiply an effect that we’re having on one small part of sustainability by getting more and more people involved and by, inspiring the other organizations that we’re working directly with listening to them about?

Sarah Divall: What’s important to them and what they need learning from that, and then using it to help another organization. And I think, the impact that you can have with that is really incredible. I also think that the tone that we speak to people with is quite similar in a way that it’s, not patronizing. We’re trying to give people the best information possible in the most digestible way. And even though we’re working in quite different sectors, I think that’s probably true for both of us, if you agree.

Sam Maguire: Yeah, I think that’s spot on. We certainly like to be human. And I think one of the things that we really collectively value, same as Hubbub is this sense that actually for sustainability, it’s all about people. It’s about, people changing their behaviours, changing the decisions that they make. when they are in positions of responsibility in power and to do that, we need to understand those people. We need to influence them in the best way, primarily through education. So that’s why I think for us part of our consulting approach around sustainability is non-judgemental is about raising aspiration and educating people about what’s possible and what they could do, and being able to show them why they should do it as well. So what’s both the commercial case, the business case, but also the broader environmental and social case for doing it. And I think that is quite shared in terms of. Both wanting to go through that with the people we work with.

Sarah Divall: A hundred per cent. And I really like what you said there about it being nonjudgmental because I think that’s so important and a reason why a lot of people maybe get turned off from changing their habits or being more sustainable because I think for a while it felt like people were going to be told off if they were doing the wrong thing or.

Sarah Divall: There was a judgy atmosphere to the way that people are talking about sustainability whereas actually giving people the autonomy to make the decisions that are best for them, with all the information available means that it becomes a much more fun experience and it becomes something that is more likely to last, than if somebody feels judged or it feels like they’re being shamed into making a decision. I don’t think it’s as impactful as if somebody chooses that path for themselves and figures out that, actually they can’t be vegetarian because it doesn’t work for them, but they can cycle to the shops on a Saturday. and being able to make those choices.

Sarah Hammond: Definitely. And it’s all about taking a step rather than no step isn’t it and forming those habits as, as people, but also habits within organizations who need to drive that systemic change.

Sarah Hammond: If you do something, it becomes far easier to do more, rather than doing nothing

Sarah Divall: And I think it goes in cycles. As well. Rarely do we ever, organizationally or personally, make a change and then we’re like, great, that’s done. We never have to think about that again. We’re all going through this constant process of ‘how did that go?’ and we’ll review that and maybe we’ll make a few tweaks and, try something different. So it’s a constantly evolving process rather than something you can tick off and say, you’ve done it

Sarah Hammond: A hundred per cent. Definitely agree with that. And so I think we’ve spoken quite a lot about why Clarasys and Hubbub are quite similar, the values we share and some of the great conversations we’ve been having of our shared passions and view on how we can get involved and work in the sustainability space.

Sarah Hammond: But I also just wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the fun stuff we’ve been doing as well.

Hubbub x Clarasys activities

Sarah Hammond: So we’ve been working together on quite a number of different events. So the first one that we kicked off with was a plastic fishing trip that Hubbub organized for us. And this was where a team of Clarasys individuals went out on boats that were actually made from recycled plastic and fished plastic items about the Thames. It included some games as well as some informative information about recycling and plastic waste.

Sarah Hammond: What I really loved about it was not only, it was quite a team bonding experience and seeing the actual real impact that you’re having on somewhere where you live, but it was also the background to plastic fishing, which was led by a community and a dad from that community school. the kids were just sick of seeing plastic floating in the rivers and he said, well, I’m going to try and turn it into a boat.

Sarah Hammond: He managed to turn it into a boat, and now he’s having a massive impact across organizations and for that school. And I think it’s just an amazing story of how one person among a small group of people can actually drive a massive change. And in addition to that, a whole host of other events. So we have home run, which is enabling employees to make their home office and their home office setup more green and also other things such as have yourself a green Christmas workshop.

Sarah Hammond: And I think this is quite a nice segue into just talking about employee engagement. And why is employee engagement important in terms of sustainability? What does it mean? How does it differ to maybe other types of employee engagement? And we’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Sustainable employee engagement

Sarah Divall: Yeah, really, really good question. And I’m jealous that you got to go out on the boat. I haven’t been out plastic fishing for a couple of years now, and it’s always such a fun day. and so nice seeing people, you know, really you’re really seeing the practical effect of stuff that we’ve been talking about for a while because you know like we all know that plastic in rivers and oceans is bad, but I think when you are the one who is going and picking it out of the river and you are sat on this beautiful boat, especially when the sun is shining and we can see how gorgeous it all is it becomes so much more real when you see it all there. So making it real for people I think is a really important part of that day.

And in terms of why I think employee engagement is really important is because I think what we were talking about earlier, it’s a community, it’s a space, where the same people regularly come together, you’re working together and learning together. So being able to create a shared system of values and know that you’re all working together to do everything you can, to be more sustainable, which is something people are caring about, more. Making sure that, your employee wellbeing is being looked after is all part of helping people feel like they’re part of a really tight-knit community of people who have the power to make change.

Sarah Divall: And I think, there aren’t many of those spaces in our lives where the same group of people come together every day and are working together and learning together. So it’s a real gem of an opportunity to be able to engage a lot of people, in one message, and spark debate and get people chatting and, maybe get people speaking to somebody they haven’t spoken to before in the office, we found that with some other programs we’ve run where somebody from finance and somebody from admin and somebody from sales all have this shared interest and probably might not have spoken unless there were these kinds of programs being run. So really giving people the opportunity to do something they might not have thought that they could be able to do before and meet new people within their organizations and also feel really empowered because they’ve been able to make a change where they work and that might spiral onto something else.

Sarah Divall: You know, somebody who petitioned their office to install really good recycling, and then it gets done and they get that sense of achievement. Maybe they go onto then do something within their neighbourhood where they live, or, within where their kid goes to school.

Sarah Divall: So I think, giving people the power to make changes in their lives shows you how it can spiral onto other places and really inspire them.

Sam Maguire: I think that’s such an interesting answer, Sarah, as you were speaking through it, it’s so critical to give people those visceral experiences that that plastic fishing did. So people being able to see the real impact of it close to home. and I think. The thing that I would say from Clarasys perspective is this stuff is great and we really committed to it, but we want it to be part of a suite of things that we’re doing.

Sam Maguire: And I think it’s the same for every organization is actually we need to move really, really quickly, in terms of making organizations more sustainable. So the engagement piece is really critical. but there are also the things that we’re doing around, education. So giving people the real tools to do things.

Sam Maguire: Role design, making sure that people have the right responsibilities, changing processes, all those things, which are really important, which will help deliver the changes that we require, but engagement is part of that suite. Your responsibilities may have changed. Your role may have changed.

Sam Maguire: You may have to be doing processes in different ways, but then you do the engagement piece. Seem important to get people bought into it, to help them understand the wider cause and, and case for doing things in a different way. So it’s part of a suite is how I see it.

Sarah Hammond: I definitely agree with that Sam and also would just add, I think that employee engagement in organizations is so pivotal to ensure that change actually lands and sticks. In some cases, there is going to be some slightly trickier decisions in terms of balancing sustainability within an organization. Travel policies, for example, and other policies that are going to need to change.

Sarah Hammond: And it’s going to be really important to make sure employees feel engaged, consulted involved, and part of that process, part of the decision-making process, what’s gone into that to enable them to actually feel motivated and like it’s the right decision to be made. And I think that through that process is a knowledge sharing piece.

Sarah Hammond: I think we probably saw it some years ago with digital, which was quite the buzzword. And there actually was often reported quite a skills gap within an organization. I think the relationship between employee engagement and knowledge sharing is a really close one in terms of increasing individuals confidence in understanding sustainability, using the concepts, feeling confident to speak about it is really important as well.

Sam Maguire: Yeah completely agree. Definitely on the same page there. And I guess, Sarah, can I just ask you a question about the engagement work that you guys do with various organizations? What sort of feedback have you got about the impact that’s had on the way that people then go and work within their organizations.

What impact does employee engagement work have?

Sarah Divall: We’ve worked with a lot of different organizations, on sustainability, trying to engage employees through weekly challenges that we run, or one-off events like the plastic fishing but I think one really good example is, KPMG. So we’ve been working with them on various projects, but this one, they took on what we called the live savvy championship and it was over lockdown.

Sarah Divall: So while people were trapped in their homes and I think, organizationally, they were starting to think about what’s the environmental impact of people being at home. Versus being in the office where it’s easier to control. They can tell how much energy is being used. They know, how much rubbish is being produced by their employees, which when everyone’s suddenly gone home, you don’t have that data anymore.

Sarah Divall: And they might be using more energy. There might be more rubbish being produced and there’s no way to track it. So we ran the Live Savvy Championship which was to give people challenges on how to make their homes more sustainable while they’re working from home. And I think we had about 250 people sign up and they did all kinds of challenges over three weeks.

Sarah Divall: So they saved, 4,500 litres of water, by getting water-saving devices for their homes. They planted 31 plant pots up, in their houses. And they were doing things like checking care labels on their fashion. They were swapping to plant-based meals. They donated 7,600 smartphones.

Sarah Divall: So all of these things done by an amazing group of people but they made such a huge change to all of their lives and had a massive impact collectively in quite a short space of time. And I think that’s what we’re trying to do with all of the companies that we work with – find ways to make it really exciting, find ways to make it super relevant to their everyday lives.

Sarah Divall: And I think that that impact, then goes on to help them inspire their colleagues to get involved. Some of the places that we work with have specialist green teams that meet every week to think about how the company could be more sustainable or just talk about things that they’re interested in.

So I think that it can have a legacy after the initial challenges that we run because it then goes on to be embedded in everything that those employees are doing moving forward. Whether that’s inspiring their colleagues or, bringing it into projects that they’re running themselves.

Sarah Hammond: That sounds incredible. And a massive impact as well. To what extent do you think that that gamification, almost slightly competitive aspect to it, is motivating for people? What’re the key motivators for sustainability within the people space?

What motivates people to make sustainable changes?

Sarah Divall: Massively. I’m really glad you asked that question actually, that’s a good one. So, Hubbub, when we first started we really looked into behaviour change techniques and what is a theory of change? How do you get somebody from, ‘oh, that’s quite interesting’, to ‘I’m actually going to cut out meat from my diet three times a week.

Sarah Divall: There’s quite a big journey that people have to go through to make these changes and habits. And I think by adding gamification to it or making it a competition it suddenly then becomes more social. It becomes more about you having fun with your colleagues than about the actual thing that you’re doing.

Sarah Divall: So your motivation for doing it might be so that you can get to the top of the leaderboard or so that you can beat the guy that you sit next to at your desk. But maybe three weeks in you find that actually you’re really enjoying the change and it’s something that you might not have given a go before.

Sarah Divall: So it’s about finding that motivation for people. And that’s what I was talking about right at the beginning where we said, I know sustainability isn’t everybody’s top priority. Everyone’s got lots and lots of things that they’re worried about or that they’re interested in. So if you can find that thing that really hooks them in which might be, making sure that you can meet your coworkers, or it might be that you want to make a green space for your kids outside your house, or it might be that you want to save a bit of money.

Sarah Divall: There are so many reasons why people might make these changes. And I think definitely in an office environment, making it a competition that people can keep an eye on and they can tease each other about, and they can have fun while they’re doing it, is such an important way of bringing people together and getting people who maybe have never even thought about sustainability involved, but they’re getting involved because they want to win.

Sarah Divall: And then maybe along the way they realize that actually some of these things are quite easy to do. They might really enjoy them and the change happens that way rather than saying “we think that you should make these changes and here’s how you do it” because for a lot of people that just won’t be interesting enough.

Sarah Hammond: Definitely. I think there was a key thing there as well about decreasing the pressure from it, creating this gamification and this social activity of it decreases that pressure. And I think therefore it’s far more likely for people to be receptive to that knowledge or even create that habit by proxy.

Sarah Hammond: They don’t realize that they continue to do it after the game because they’ve actually just enjoyed it. Whereas when there’s pressure almost guilt element to it, it can often put people off from even listening or wanting to be part of it.

The Hubbub ballot bin

Sarah Divall: So we have something which some people might have seen called the ballot bin because it went viral very strangely, but it was one of the first products that we created Hubbub because we were commissioned to, try and clean up cigarette litter on Villiers Street, which is right outside Embankment Station. A lot of my colleagues spent a couple of weeks hiding behind the bins on Villiers Street, trying to work out who was throwing cigarette butts on the ground. Who are the kind of people who we need to target with these behaviour changes and found out it was during that time, cause it was the world cup, it was a lot of young men standing outside of the pub at half time. And there was nowhere really to put your cigarette butts. There were a few cigarette bins, but you have to do a bit of a walk to get to them. So we made the ballot bin, which was a gamified bin essentially, where you could vote with your cigarette butt.

Sarah Divall: And we were asking people questions about the games that were happening that day. So you could vote on who is the best footballer in the world. Who you thought was going to win the football match. And then we’ve taken it to other places where you can vote on who do you think is going to win the election or, what’s the best reality TV show and people want to participate in the vote.

Sarah Divall: And they’re not necessarily thinking about the fact that they’re not littering their cigarette butt, it’s a really secondary thing to that. I really want to get involved in this vote because I want to make sure my favourite team win. So I think that’s an example of why it’s important to make things fun rather than just telling people what to do.

Sam Maguire: Just on that Sarah, I was just thinking back to when I did my master’s degree. My dissertation was around the drivers for people engaging in equal entrepreneurship and what drove them to getting involved. And particularly one of the things there was one of the key drivers was around basically exposure to problems.

Sam Maguire: So, one, being able to see the impact, which I guess is what we were trying to do for the plastic fishing thing as well. But also exposure, to nature to the environment in other ways. and then being able to relate that to then damage was one of the key drivers, but one of the other things that I think is really important, that I took from that dissertation experience was the people kept recalling this element of shared experience. So be it with their kids or, the other way with siblings or other members of the family and friends – having that shared experience, which was around exposure to environmental damage or social inequity was really important and helped it stick in their brain, and motivate them, was that element of something that’s shared.

Sam Maguire: And I think that can be created in a work environment. It may not necessarily be as powerful as your s on or daughter asking you about why is the world going to be on fire or anything like that, but having something shared with employees that you can then all keep each other accountable becomes part of the discourse at work, is almost as equally as powerful.

Sarah Hammond: I really loved that, that notion of a shared experience. I think it does lends itself as well to the social aspect of sustainability and almost driving new traditions. And when you were talking then about the drivers for people and the shared experience element of it, I started to think about almost this notion of sustainability meaning you have to be boring or cut things out of your life or sacrifices to convenience that maybe you had previously. I think there’s a massive opportunity to start new traditions and to start new ways of working with your colleagues or new ways for organizations to work with the communities around them or new ways for families to do things. And I actually was on the phone with my mum last night, talking about Christmas.

Sarah Hammond: And for the first time this year, myself and my extended family are going to do a secret Santa because whilst we love the gifts we get from everyone. Do we need them? We don’t really need those gifts. So actually, therefore, how do we make that process of secret Santa and receiving that one gift from a family member, more about tradition and how do you make it more special and, teach the next generation that’s how we do things now. And it’s a really nice opportunity actually to create new ways of doing things within families, friendship groups. Within my friendship group, we’ve done clothes swapping parties. So I think those shared experiences has massive potential down from personal relationships up to organizations wide as well. So, yeah. Thank you for sharing that.

Sarah Divall: Yeah, I’d really echo that. I think it’s a really important point that you’ve made so well that it can have such a massive impact even down to a lot of people will think about changing their diets because somebody in their household has, so it suddenly becomes an option that’s available to them because they can speak to somebody about it and there’s watching somebody else do it.

Sarah Divall: I certainly notice it in my friendship group, but, five years ago, one person was vegetarian and now half of them are as it kind of a, it just got passed on from one person to the next, to the next, to the next. And then it becomes a social norm that that’s just how we do things or it’s accepted that it’s not weird at least to do that because more people are doing it.

Sarah Divall: So just like with your secret Santa, it might seem strange for the first year and then becomes just what you do and totally normal for everybody.

Sarah Hammond: Amazing. Thank you, Sarah. And just thank you both for your time today and apologies as well to the audience for having two Sarah’s on a podcast. Hopefully, it hasn’t been too confusing.

Sarah Hammond: If you’re interested or inspired in anything we’ve spoken about all things, employee engagement, motivation, knowledge sharing in the sustainability space, please do reach out. We love to talk about this stuff and just really appreciate your time listening today and your time talking to me today, Sarah and Sam.

Sam Maguire: Thanks Sarah.

Sarah Divall: Thank you.

Sam Maguire: Thank you for listening to our Simply Sustainability podcast. We hope, you enjoyed it. For more information, please contact us at

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