The need for urgency in solving our most pressing environmental challenges is widely recognized; less recognized is the interconnectedness of behavior and positive environmental outcomes. Environmental problems are behavior problems. If we are to solve intractable and wicked problems in the environment, then large numbers of NGOs, foundations, agencies, businesses, and other entities must deepen their capacity to adaptively change the behavior of individuals and institutions on a large scale.
Many factors influence human behavior – from our beliefs, values, and mental models, to societal norms and expectations, to the built and legal environments. The interplay of these factors can hinder environmental action among even the most well-intentioned individuals and institutions.
The drivers of behavior are often not adequately understood or addressed. Yet this is the kind of expertise our world needs right now: an evidence-based understanding of audience barriers and motivators, and how to apply the right behavior change strategies at the right time to make environmental efforts more effective. Root Solutions is a thought leader in doing just this, working to build capacity for all change-makers to use these methods to create better systems and policies that accelerate environmental and social change.
What can be done?
Behavior-based tools help us work with institutional decision-makers to change practices, inform policies, and catalyze mental models that lead to virtuous feedback loops in systems. Organizations worldwide are creating significant positive social and environmental impact through simple, targeted interventions using behavior change techniques. And behavioral science doesn’t just deliver environmental wins – it often comes with an economic return on investment as well. For example, Virgin Atlantic adopted simple behavior change tools that led to a significant reduction in their emissions of greenhouse gasses and pollutants while simultaneously creating savings of over $5 million on fuel in just a matter of months. Just imagine, if an airline can see this impact by using just one behavior change tool, what could our world be like if all environmental changemakers employed behavior-based solutions?
How Root Solutions is meeting the challenge
Root Solutions is dedicated to building the capacity of the entire environmental movement to effectively change behavior to accelerate progress toward a more sustainable future.
Drawing from design thinking, systems thinking, psychology, economics, and other social sciences, Root Solutions’ framework makes it easy for anyone to run a behavior change campaign from start to finish. They share these tools with institutions, NGOs, and public servants via trainings and their award-winning book “Making Shift Happen”.
- Making Shift Happen: This workshop-in-a-book, endorsed among experts like Steve McCormick and Bill McKibben, offers strategies and practical tips for creating, implementing, and scaling campaigns grounded in the science of how people think, make decisions, and act. Its focus on deep capacity building empowers individuals, organizations, and institutions to lead impactful campaigns that frequently yield a powerful return on investment. Authored by Nya Van Leuvan, Lauren Highleyman, Rod Fujita, and Ashleigh Kellerman, Making Shift Happen recently won a Gold Medal Nautilus Book Award alongside notable winners like Thích Nhất Hạnh, Barbara Kingsolver, Deepak Chopra, and Robin Wall Kimmerer.
- Training: Root Solutions has worked with practitioners from hundreds of organizations on how to create more effective programs and campaigns. Their hands-on training draws on the principles in Making Shift Happen to teach best practices for using behavior design to promote lasting, environmental behaviors. The interactive training goes beyond theory — participants learn practical strategies that they then apply to their areas of interest and take back to their communities. Click here to register your interest for upcoming trainings.
Root Solutions has a strong track record of working with both private and public sector organizations, including non-profits, businesses, universities, and national and local government agencies. They work closely with clients and partners to identify behavioral leverage points in their initiatives, then assist in the design and implementation of cost-effective and scalable behavioral strategies. Using evidence-informed tools and processes, their partners have designed and executed effective behavior change campaigns, policies, and strategies.
They have applied their expertise to help environmental practitioners reduce single-use-plastics consumption, save water and energy, encourage sustainable transportation, reduce marine debris, prevent wildlife disturbance, achieve carbon neutrality in institutions, and promote sustainable food choices, among many more environmental victories. Root Solutions is partnered with Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey where they have taught a graduate-level course in Environmental Behavior Change.
A few of their past clients include: NOAA, The Nature Conservancy, University of California, ClimateWorks Foundation, Climate and Land Use Alliance, AASHE (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education), NCEAS (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis), and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.