The consumption of goods and services is growing rapidly with the rise in household incomes and population growth. This growth in consumption is significantly offsetting and underplaying the environmental gains being made on the production side.
At Nokia, we believe changing of consumption patterns requires businesses to play an entirely new and additional role and look beyond the scope of work set by Life-Cycle Thinking.
Consumption patterns are a derivative of the choices people make, their actions, reasons, influences and the things that inspire and drive them. These actions, choices are all in turn influenced by the context.
For the creation of a sustainable future, we believe we need to create and evolve a context that inspires sustainable actions and choices. We have developed an "ecosystem approach" to help create such an inspiring context. It builds on the ecological principles by which the natural ecosystems operate and includes:
- Identification and partnering with the critical members in the ecosystem who shape the context
- Development of a shared vision with the members and co-creation of programs
- Creation of cyclical flows — e.g. interactions, resources, capacity building, feedbacks
- Engaging, enrolling and inspiring people via the programs
Using the ecosystem approach, we have identified and partnered with the members, created a shared vision and evolved projects that inspire sustainable lifestyles. The identified members include e.g. educational institutions such as schools, colleges and technology institutes, research institutes, retailers and repair shops of mobile phones, national and grassroots-level NGOs, the informal networks of waste pickers, individuals, policymakers, corporations and their employees, funding agencies and multilateral organisations.
We, along with our partner members have developed programs that focus on energy, e-waste, water and transportation. A brief on some the programs:
Create to Inspire Youth Fellowship**:** The fellowship is an out-of-the-box challenge for youngsters to create ownership on judicious consumption of resources. We select young people in each city, where the fellowship runs, who are mentored by renowned artists from various creative fields. These fellows develop performances and social action projects that can initiate fun and exciting conversations on sustainable consumption amongst masses. Through music, dance, theatre, drama, film, photography, art & handicraft, design and technology the fellows create a new social context in the city, which encourages people to green their behaviour.
For the first year, Nokia partnered with Oxfam India to launch the fellowship in two cities — Delhi and Hyderabad. Over 200 fellows, ages 18 to 23, were selected and trained by artist mentors. To learn more about the fellows and their work, see their blog.
School engagement program: This program, started with 15 schools in Delhi in July 2010, has now reached to over 2500 schools in 25 cities across 14 states. We use activity-based learning and self-discovery methods involving gamification and arts. We have tied-up with locally trusted NGOs and build their capacities to run this program. Students are enrolled to discuss ways of greening lifestyles with their parents and neighbours. The program has reached out to over 10,000 teachers, 150,000 children directly and over one million students indirectly.
Films for Change: Films for Change is a community movie screening program that reaches out to youth in six cities. Undertaken by Nokia in partnership with TVE India, a not-for-profit media trust, the program was started in April 2012 with an aim to engage youth and provide a platform for discussion with films as a medium. More than 50 movies on various environmental topics have been screened in different colleges, followed by discussions on sustainable consumption. The program has engaged over 5000 young people.
Informal sector engagement: In India, the majority of e-waste finds its way to the informal recyclers whose recycling practices cause severe environmental and health impacts. We started a pilot project in mid-2012 to leverage the reach and collection strength of the formalized informal sector and the recycling technology strength of the responsible authorized recyclers. The goal of the pilot is to empower and enable the informal sector waste collectors to collect and sell e-waste to responsible recyclers instead of illegal ones, thereby protecting livelihoods and the environment. We have partnered with Chintan, a Delhi-based NGO, and with them trained over 150 waste collectors and are reaching out to a large number of households via these collectors.
To further establish responsible recycling, Nokia has partnered with GIZ for a two-year public-private partnership program and is setting up an engagement with the informal sector waste collectors from mid-2013 in two cities.
Small repair stores engagement program: A very significant number of old mobile phones after going through multiple ownership end up in small repair stores across the country who have very little knowledge on e-waste. We started a program in 2011 in partnership with Humana People to People India to reach out to such stores, educate them on e-waste, and provide them an access to responsible recycling. We have already enrolled over 6000 stores in 25 cities/towns under this program. Each of these enrolled stores takes responsibility of engaging with their neighbourhood/network mobile phone stores and channel their e-waste to a responsible recycler via us. We recycled over 50,000 old mobile phones and accessories in the first year itself.
Viral campaign: The objective of the campaign is to raise awareness on mobile phone recycling amongst masses and encourage action via social media engagement and three viral movies:
Corporate engagement: We partnered with over 50 corporations and conducted programs in their 350+ offices to engage their employees on recycling of old mobile phones.
Retail engagement: We have partnered with all Nokia-branded retail stores and customer care centres to engage with customers on reycling.
All these projects enroll people from different sections of the society and are intertwined with each other. These interlined projects cohesively form a context which inspires sustainable consumption. New members are constantly being introduced and added to this ecosystem.
We find that this ecosystem approach to sustainable consumption differs fundamentally from many other approaches — e.g. stakeholder engagement and 360 marketing.
The ecosystem approach aims to alter the context and has people at its centre, as compared to stakeholder engagement that aims to build consensus for the business to operate amicably and has business at its core. This approach makes engagement with people deep rooted as compared to crusty engagement via traditional marketing approaches. It ensures that the ecosystem and its members evolve over time owing to cyclic flows — e.g. capacity building and resources. The members of the ecosystem interact with one another and this interaction increases over time, which ensures evolution. The approach is cohesive in nature and inspires people to take action by altering their contexts instead of coercing them to take actions.
This ecosystem approach is helping us in evolving and practicing a distinct and extraordinary role for ourselves in making consumption patterns sustainable.