Written by daniel

This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

Have you have decided to work at reducing waste in your tourism/events organization ? Welcome on board! How can you implement change in the long run? One key component will be to effectively raise-awareness to make people (mainly your staff and customers) change their behavior. Explore the key tips below to tip the odds to your side!


  • On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic.
  • Not everyone is as eco-friendly as you ! Some people have no interest in waste, while for others old habits die hard !
  • The biggest the organization, the more challenging it might become.

How to lead the change?

As mentioned in step 5 (defining the priorities), don’t try to implement all the solutions at the same time, to avoid the risk of discouraging people by the amount of work (unless you have limitless resources!). Instead start with one (or a few) solution(s).



1. Start with a test

For some solutions which might seem a bit more complex to implement and scale up, we recommend to start with a test. Check out the following videos to get inspired by how start-ups develop their solutions using tests and prototypes. This key step can help you reduce failure by making sure the user experience is qualitative before developing and implementing the final solution on a larger scale.

What is a lean start-up?

How and why prototype?

What is a user test?

2. Be ready to face resistance to change

One of the challenge you might face in implementing your project can be the resistance to change from both internal and external stakeholders. Collect your staff or customers feedback to understand potential barriers to changes. Are the challenges rather psychological or technical?

Speaking about climate change, Dr. Per Espen Stoknes explained during a Ted-Ed event, “How to transform apocalypse fatigues into action for global warming”, that there are 5 main human bias that we put in between our consciousness of environmental danger and moving to action. He call them the « 5 Ds »

  • Distance: The environmental issue remains remote for the majority of us, in a number of ways. We can’t see climate change.
  • Doom: We have heard that ‘the end is near’ so many times, it no longer really registers. Especially when we are asked to make sacrifice and costs, we tend to avoid the environmental topic.
  • Dissonance: If what we know (for instance, our waste production contributes to global warming), conflicts with what we do (eating that chocolate bar with plastic packaging) then dissonance sets in. By doubting or downplaying what we know (the facts), we can feel better about how we live
  • Denial: By joining outspoken denialism and mockery, we can get back at those whom we feel criticize our lifestyles. Denial is based in self-defense, not ignorance, intelligence, or lack of information.
  • Identity: We experience resistance to calls for change in self-identity. We filter news through our professional and cultural identity. We look for information that confirms our existing values and notions, and filter away what challenges them

3. Help people adopt eco-friendly attitudes

To simplify, there are 3 different ‘targets.’ 1. those willing to change their attitudes, and needing information on the how. 2. those who could evolve them but need a bit of help, and 3. the one resisting change, which will need more support. :

  • Raising awareness: improve people’s knowledge about an issue.
  • Changing beliefs: change the way people think and feel about an issue. Attitude change is a prequisite to behavior change, but it does not guarantee it.
  • Changing behavior: influence people’s actions relating to an issue. This is usually the ultimate goal.

Dr. Stoknes mentions 5 biases, he also encourages 5 main strategies for climate (-environmental) communication to get people to “wake up”, the « 5 Ss »:

  1. SOCIAL:  Uses the power of social networks
    SUPPORTIVE:  Employs frames that support the message with positive emotions
    SIMPLE: Makes climate-friendly behaviors easy and convenient
    STORY-BASED:  Uses the power of stories to create meaning and community
    SIGNALS:  Uses indicators for feedback on societal response

Adapt your content

Give data: to concretely illustrate how much clients will decrease their carbon footprint by staying in your hotel, eating in your restaurant, going to your festival, etc… Choose impactful numbers (for example: including a comparison).

Speak to their emotions: data alone is not convincing enough (right vs. left brain). “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela

Speak to their interests: in term of health, finance etc… Highlight their benefits, make it personal and practical. Ex : The main reason why people are mostly buying organic food is because they think it’s better for “their” health (versus for the biodiversity). Read more on Hopineo blog.

Communicate issue by issue: not everything at once.

Behavioral Incentives

Nudge: guided to make environmentally friendly choices without communicating explicitly about sustainability by small suggestions and positive reinforcements.


Gamification is a technique where designers insert gameplay elements in non-gaming settings so as to enhance user engagement with a product or service.

As an example, the design company ‘Hubbub’ teamed up with ‘Common Works’ to create a litter campaign that uses entertaining and interactive ways to reduce garbage on the streets of London, England :


By developing a reward system you can encourage individuals to adopt more eco-friendly practices. It can be a reward in term of image (add their name to the green ambassadors wall), or financial reduction (decrease the price of their coffee if they bring their own cup)

As an example, SUEZ has created the RECO recycling van. The van can be brought to events, such as the cross country worldcup, where the visitors drop their recycling items, authomatically sorted by the machine, and earn points or financial rewards. 

Adapt your tone of voice

Be compelling and inspiring!

Don’t use jargon so sustainable development doesn’t appear to be an exclusive club. You could test the message you share with your private circle, what are their reactions ?

Original signage is always a good idea to make people change their habits. Make sure it’s clear and visible ! (Check our container article)

No moralization: have positive arguments (ecological solutions instead of environmental guilt), pedagogy and awareness raising. No patronizing, guilt-laden or disapproving language.

Practice non-violent communication: speak more about you (“I prefer”) than “you should”.

Soda and neers cans only signage
No smoking signage

4. Promote green human resources policies

Staff management

Lead by example: “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” (Albert Einstein). You must be the first one to respect your own rules and to lead by showing an example for your employees.

Train your employees: if you feel that it is needed, you can organise a quick and funny best practices training. It can be an opportunity to do team building. Leave them with a didactic, user-friendly summary of the best practices they need to implement. Explain the reasons behind them (“it’s not just another rule to follow”) and the consequences (good and bad) of their actions.

Signature of a moral agreement: you can request your employees (or even clients!) to sign a moral charter, a list of “duties” they commit themselves to follow, to respect the mindset of your organisation. This can be included both in the rules of procedure or in your specification requirements.

Share the expertise: you can define a “referent” on some issues. Ex: have a specific person who will be the “Mr Trash” or “Mrs Energy” of your organisation. So people can come to him/her when they have questions

Hiring new staff

Recruitment policy: you can write in the job description some attitudes and actions you expect from your employees, and decide to hire people who already share your values and actions. Ask them in their interview how they personaly deal with waste, if they have had similar experiences previously. The United Nations for example makes it a criteria for each person applying for a job to engage in respecting their core values.

Make behaviour part of the contract: You can even define a bonus/malus in line with the respect of the mindset and actions of your organisation.

Communicate: every employee should be aware of and understand your vision and objectives regarding sustainable waste management and procurement policy, and how it is related to the mission of your company. This could be formalized in a manifesto handed to every new employee.

Mentorship: for newcomers, you can give them with a mentor who is already used to your policy in order to inspire them and lead by example. On the one hand, mentors will feel responsible and will be even more engaged, while on the other hand, newcomers will have someone to rely on.

5. Measure, reward, celebrate

Recognize and valorize the contribution of employees who made waste reduction possible. Communicate both internally and externally to celebrate success (see step 9)

As much as possible, let your employee tell their story, share their experience. Various format are possible: videos, testimony, etc.

You could also organize an event with the staff members and highlight the progress made, and the next challenges – sustainability is a journey !

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This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

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