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What is it?

Green gamification is pretty much what it says on the tin: you take gamification, the use of game mechanics to engage people and change behaviour, and apply it to sustainability issues.

Whilst the explanation might be simple, the process often isn’t. We’ve mentioned before that gamification isn’t a panacea, and figuring out what’s going to work for your business can be difficult. That doesn’t mean it isn’t doable though, and environmental goals are arguably well suited to gamification initiatives because they can be broken down into discrete goals which can still have a big impact.

Need inspiration? Here are five companies using gamification to do their bit for the planet.


1. WeSpire

WeSpire have created a platform where users earn points for completing certain sustainability actions, such as recycling or using more environmentally-friendly products. Points are shown on a leaderboard and achievements can even be posted on Facebook, turning the persuasive power of social media into a tool for positive change.

The platform has attracted a great deal of buzz, with companies like MGM, Sony and McDonald’s all using it to launch their own sustainability challenges and 6 million positive actions taking place to date.

What can we learn?

According to WeSpire, the key thing that can make or break sustainability efforts is employee engagement. Its platform seeks to be interesting and worthwhile for employees to use, as well as utilising employee’s existing social networks to inspire positive behaviour in others.


2. SAP

German software giant, SAP, is using gamification to reduce car emissions and the amount spent on company cars. They’ve developed and released an app, ‘TwoGo’ which businesses can use to encourage their employees to carpool. Carpoolers can earn points, track their friends’ progress, and donate money they save through the initiative to charities of their choice. Since SAP launched the initiative internally, 20,000 employees have taken part, which translates into benefits for SAP, its employees and the environment. A win-win-win.

What can we learn?

SAP says a key aspect of the initiative’s success is its social element. Users are matched up based on common interests, and the app is sold to employees not just as a green initiative, but also as a way to make friends and network. Linking social benefits with financial and environmental ones helps keep employees engaged and participating in gamification efforts.


3. Toyota

Toyota’s Prius range of hybrid cars uses game mechanics to encourage users to drive in a more energy efficient way. Alongside the usual speed and fuel dials, the Prius displays an Energy Monitor screen showing how many miles have been driven since the last time the tank was filled. The number goes up or down depending on the driver’s actions, providing instant feedback. Slam hard on the accelerator and see your score go down.

The strategy appears to have worked, spurring drivers to best their previous ‘high score’ every time they use the vehicle.

What can we learn?

Feedback is important. By providing instant, constant feedback on how driving habits are having an effect on both savings and the environment, Toyota ensures these considerations are never far from drivers’ minds. Not every business produces the kind of products that lend themselves to Toyota’s particular approach, but useful, consistent feedback is a key aspect of any gamification effort.


4. Citibank

Citibank is using inhouse initiatives to increase employee wellbeing whilst reducing the company’s environmental impact. Its Step Up initiative encourages increased activity and lower energy usage by encouraging employees to take the stairs. Participants log how many flights they climb as well as how many steps they take and this is then compared with other Citi branches across the globe. In total, staff took an enormous 8.3 million steps during the last challenge.

Meanwhile, Citi’s Drink Up challenge encourages employees to hydrate more regularly by refilling water bottles, translating this into an average number of plastic bottles the business has avoided using. The business estimates that it has saved around 70,000 plastic bottles this way.

What can we learn?

Gamification doesn’t need to be complicated to be successful. Citibank’s employee initiatives encourage small scale, individual actions which cumulatively have a major impact.


5. RecycleBank

RecycleBank doesn’t just make use of gamification, its whole business model revolves around it. The business partners with cities and brands to give rewards to its members when they take part in everyday sustainability actions and learning. Users earn points through taking part in online learning and activities with new content added continually. Once enough points have been earned, they can spend these on one of RecycleBank’s many rewards offers.

What can we learn?

Meaningful incentives are important. RecycleBank offers users exclusive deals, discounts on environmentally friendly products and even the opportunity to use their points to donate to local charities. The range of rewards on offer means that every user can work towards whichever goal means most to them, encouraging long term sustainable behaviour and engagement with the platform.


Helen Bates

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