Changing Habits from the Heart

As almost anyone will tell you, changing a habit is hard. Take that individual experience and expand it to a community, where habits are social norms, and change is more challenging. Here at Cool Choices we work with groups to inspire sustainable habits in fun, social and easy ways that facilitate sustainable norms. Our approach is unique, so we are heartened when we find company.

Midwest Energy News recently profiled Peggy Liu, co-founder of the Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy (JUCCCE), on her work on the China Dream Initiative. With a Chinese middle class expected to grow from 474 million to 800 million by 2025, Chinese middle class consumption norms have major implications for global resources and sustainability. In response to these concerns, the China Dream Initiative seeks to reimagine prosperity and reshape consumerism in China. The goal is to catalyze sustainable habits in the consuming class in China by baking it into the social norms of a new national identity – a Harmonious and Happy Dream.

In part this involves emphasizing experiences over the acquisition of tangible products. The emphasis is on quality of life over quantity of stuff. Interestingly, the Chinese Dream Initiative also ties their vision to traditional Chinese values.

The Initiative’s approach resonates with some of what we hear from Cool Choices players. We frame our game as fun, social and easy but as people play they talk about unexpected benefits – turning off the television gives you time to think, time to talk with your family. A nudge to eat locally can provide an opportunity to explore a farmer’s market, to connect with neighbors in a new way. Eco-driving can reduce stress and make post-commute social time more relaxed. After a game players often tell us they liked the lifestyle benefits the most.

It seems like part of the quest – for all of us – is to pause long enough to notice the benefits in living more versus just having more.

JUCCCE’s efforts to develop and actualize a Chinese Dream are worth following; perhaps their efforts can help inspire US consumers to pursue a similar future filled with more meaning and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

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