ABA on Earth Day

by Master Trainer, Tialha Nover

The Research:

In preparation for Earth day I began looking for environmental ABA research. While doing my research, I came across a great paper from the Fall 2010 issue of The Behavior Analyst titled Climate Change by Paul Chance from Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. The paper addresses the lack of overall research for solving environmental problems and proposes seven possible ways in which Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) could help solve some major environmental issues. It’s a call to action and recommends “that behavior analysts not just imitate what has been done in the past, but look for new ways of studying behavior change”; to think outside the box.

Some of the solutions addressed in the paper were:

  • An environmental tax that would reward those who conserve the most
  • Lowering the response effort by making recycling easier
  • Making the target population smaller when designing a group contingency
  • Teaching kids basic behavior principles to allow for them to make an impact from a young age

Carrotmob

Out of the seven solutions suggested in the paper, the one that stuck out to me the most is an environmental tax that would reward those who conserve the most. The paper discusses the non-profit Carrotmob that incentivized companies to go green by organizing mob events to increase business on a specified day. The group spends money on the mob day (buying only what they need at the time) and the mobbed company makes an environmental improvement in return. The first ever Carrotmob event targeted a coffee shop and in return for the mob, the D Market in San Francisco invested 22% of all revenue from the day into energy efficiency upgrades. Mob events began in San Francisco and spread all around the world with more than 250 campaigns in over 20 countries. Carrotmob events have led to a grocery store in Bangkok banning plastic bags and a restaurant in Australia starting a vegetable patch.

Where is Carrotmob now?

When I went to research Carrotmob, I discovered that they haven’t been active since 2013.  I was eventually able to find the founders newest endeavor, an app called MoneyVoice. The app appears to have launched in January 2018 and a crowdfunding campaign launched this April.  After doing some research, I decided to give it a try and signed up.

The concept behind the app is to persuade businesses to make changes that actual customers care about. The app tracks your spending and then gives you votes for each company you shop with based on your spending history. You can then either upvote issues other users have posted or write your own issues. Some suggestions I saw were increasing a company’s recycling program and adding solar panels. While the app currently has a small user base, it does have one success story listed on their Facebook page. A customer used the app to vote on a company to switch from plastic to compostable straws. Due to the feedback, the company made the change! MoneyVoice may or may not become popular, but one thing is clear: they are thinking outside the box on using ABA principles to attempt to help save this glorious planet.

Where we’re going next:

In the spirit of Earth Day and the article’s call to action, QBS and its employees are taking initiatives to make a positive impact. This Earth Day, QBS will be cleaning up the road and wooded area around our office. We are also doing community outreach with a nearby preschool to teach recycling skills. In addition to the steps each employee is taking in their personal lives, we are all constantly working to improve. My current goal this year is to be single-use plastic free by 2020.

Here are a few ways some of the QBS team is making a positive change this year:

  • Makeita (Master Trainer) has been using glass bowls to replace plastic Tupperware, using ceramic cup instead of single use paper and plastic cups in the office.
  • Molly (Master Trainer) is focusing on going paperless in her life and finding ways to be more environmentally conscious when traveling.
  • Mark (AR specialist) is focusing on recycling more.
  • Dr. Lennox (CEO) replacing his hybrid with a fully electric car.
  • Paige (Social Media Manager) has started to bring her own reusable cups when she gets iced coffee; replacing plastic cups that will just get thrown away

What are your plans for this Earth Day and beyond to help protect our planet?