The cornerstone of sustainability is behaviour change. Sustainability requires individuals and businesses to act (e.g., reduce waste, increase water and energy efficiency, and prevent pollution). To date, most programs to achieve these changes have relied upon disseminating information. Research demonstrates, however, that simply providing information has little or no effect on what people or businesses do. But if not ads, brochures or booklets, then what?
Over the last decade, a new approach, community-based social marketing, has emerged as an effective alternative for promoting sustainable behaviour. The founder of community-based social marketing, Dr. Doug McKenzie–Mohr, delivered a Fostering Sustainable Behaviour workshop on June 2 & 3, 2011, hosted by the Recycling Council of Alberta. This two-day workshop provided a comprehensive introduction to community–based social marketing and how it is being applied throughout the world to foster sustainable behaviour. Workshop participants learned the five steps of community–based social marketing (selecting behaviours, identifying barriers & benefits, developing strategies, conducting a pilot, and broad scale implementation) and were exposed to numerous case studies illustrating its use. In addition, participants gained experience in applying the concepts of community-based social marketing to actual programs, focussing on waste reduction and recycling examples wherever possible.