Game mechanics could be the key to widespread adoption of sustainable consumption. These fun strategies can influence employees, consumers and the public to change behavior and take action.

"Green Gamification" can help companies make sustainability fun


While no one can argue that saving the planet is important, the day-to-day actions that compose sustainable living are less than glamorous. The simple trio of “reuse, reduce and recycle” can often be rejected as time-consuming or otherwise inconvenient. But the State of Green Business Reportidentified a new trend called “Green Gamification” that could help promote sustainable behaviors while lifting the burden of green living thanks to game mechanics and social media. The idea is simple: gamify the everyday tasks and behaviors that can build sustainability. Al Gore has been a fierce advocate of Green Gamification, especially through his RealiTree project that uses a social video game to advocate action and dispel misinformation. Green Gamification is also being slowly adopted by the corporate world, to raise awareness among both customers and employees. 

Rewarding customers for their green behaviors

While an inhabitable planet for following generations seems like it should be its own reward, most consumers need instant gratification, and that can take the form of points, leaderboards or other features first found on the video game screen.A lot of new businesses are entirely based on Green Gamification. For instance, Recyclebank rewards people for their everyday life green actions thanks to deals from local and national retailers. “Traditional” industries like the car industry have also started to adopte Green Gamification by incorporating it to their existing products. The electric Nissan Leaf’s eco mode software tracks speed and power usage, gives feedback and constructs efficiency-based achievements that take the form of trees on the steering wheel display. Drivers can see their energy conservation compared to nearby cars and receive virtual medals.

Management can use green gamification for its own employees

Another way for the corporate world to promote sustainability is to do so among its own employees. Special programs are now leveraging game mechanics to raise awareness inside the company and encourage employees to be more responsible. German software giant SAP has gamified their employee-engagement program - they play a game that encourages carpooling. Employees gain points by entering information that matches carpooling partners. The benefits are multiple - this game takes cars off the road while building employee social ties, and SAP saves money since many of the vehicles are company cars. But this solution must be scaled along a time frame - games must be kept fresh or engagement will drop.

By Ivory King