The Guardian, a British national newspaper, created an online public forum (sponsored by Unilever) to help people exchange ideas and change the world around them.
The forum is called the Live Better Challenge and it aims to help people make a difference through positive action. It involves seven monthly challenges, each focused on a sustainability theme or issue including food waste, health, cutting energy use, saving water, etc. The public is invited to participate in the challenges through online forums and social media where they become a part of the Living Better community. The community promotes best practices and serves as a vehicle to help educate and engage people by allowing them to share their experiences and ideas and join online conversations on sustainability issues. The Guardian provides articles, tips, blogs, quizzes, resources, expert panels and inspirational stories profiling behaviours and practices to “live better”. It also posts the results of the public challenges. For example, in April 2014 readers saved 8,000 kWh of energy as a result of the energy saving campaign.
Participants receive a number of benefits by joining the Live Better Challenge, including:
- Free newsletters with the latest news and articles, full of hints and tips to help survive the challenge and enjoy sustainable living
- Automatic entry to a monthly competition to win sustainable living prizes
- Access to the Live Better community –to comment on the site and share personal Live Better experiences
- Opportunity to save money by adopting more affordable sustainable living practices
- Self satisfaction, by taking positive steps to make a difference in the environment and community
At the end of every challenge month, The Guardian picks winners at random to receive sustainability-themed prizes. For example, during the energy challenge month three winners received an elite energy monitor and five winners received copies of Kevin McCloud’s Principles of Home: Making a Place to Live book.
Depending on the theme, The Guardian teams up with business partners (Unilever, Energy Savings Trust) to be part of the challenge and offer expertise and feedback to participants.
One of the monthly themes was “get involved with your local community”. The public was challenged to:
- Volunteer at their local community garden
- Plant some bee-friendly plants on their doorstep
- Club together to turn some disused land into a vegetable patch
- Invite their neighbours over for a clothes mending session
- Start a car-share scheme or make a pledge with their neighbours to cycle or walk to work or school
- Host a clothes swap in their village hall or community centre