We talk to Vodafone UK's Matt Dyson and Jon Oakes about their battle to raise awareness of climate change with environmental charity Do The Green Thing...
At Vodafone we’re big on tackling green issues. You can see that in the pioneering tech we use to make Vodafone HQ more power efficient, in the new wind farm and sustainable energy investment we’re making for the network, and our employees are just as passionate about it all too. .
Like Matt Dyson and Jon Oakes – two Vodafone UK employees who have recently spent their spare time helping promote eco issues for UK charity Do The Green Thing. We’ve been speaking to them, and to the organisation’s Hannah Jarratt, to get the full story about how environmental messages and great design should go hand in hand…
Designing a better future
The saying ‘charity starts at home’ may not be a very charitable one in spirit, but for Do The Green Thing it’s a statement that rings true. The not-for-profit organisation’s main mission is to use clever design to get us thinking about the small things we can all do at home (and out and about) to make a difference to the environment. Hannah Jarratt explains:
“Do the Green Thing started nearly 8 years ago now,” she tells us. “It was founded by Andy Hobsbawm and Naresh Ramchandani, who both have marketing and tech backgrounds. Their thought process was that advertising puts all this creativity and brainpower into selling things, then why can’t we do the same to sell a good sustainability message? So they started pulling together campaigns using creative thought and big visuals, to encourage people to make more everyday changes that can have a big impact for the planet.”
From those small beginnings, Do The Green Thing now has a huge following, accepting a massive amount of creative material from all-comers every week:
“We run a website full of editorial content, interviews and poster designs,” says Hannah. “We put that out across all of our social media platforms to inspire people to think about living and working differently, and we have a pretty big audience now – about 70,000 Twitter followers, 35,000 on Facebook and about 25,000 on our email subscriptions.”
And it’s the idea of being able to offer up poster designs that got our guys Matt and Jon interested…
“People can make their own posters. If we like them we’ll just put them straight up on our website.”
“Do the Green Thing is nestled within Pentagram Design in London,” Hannah says, “so we’re surrounded by great design and creative heads. That means that if people just have an idea, we can work with them on it. Or, as was the case with Matt and Jon, people can make their own posters. If we like them we’ll just put them straight up on our website.”
There is a light…
“I was recommended the Do The Green Thing website by a friend,” says Matt. “They mentioned that the charity creates and curates a lot of posters to raise awareness for green issues, and I thought it’d be a good idea to get involved.”
“We both work in the digital creative team at Vodafone,” Jon adds, “within the production department. Matt produces text and copy for the website and I produce page layouts, banner graphics and things like that, so we’re used to working together on creative projects.”
So, with four keen eyes for both design and snappy editorial, along with a strong urge to do something in their spare time to help a good cause, Matt and Jon set to work on two posters that could help inspire people to live a little bit greener: “Do the Green Thing have a helpful brief, in that there’s a set list of about ten different green campaigns and issues you can work on,” Matt says. Jon adds: “We worked on a couple of different iterations, and when we came up with wording we thought we could do a decent visual for, we progressed it and thought about how we can show that message in graphics.”
So which one is the big Morrissey fan? “We both are!” Matt says. “We originally thought of having it as Morrissey’s head with lights coming out of it!”
“We obviously toned that down,” Jon explains, laughing, “and decided on the image of a house. …But the idea of somebody living in his quiff is still quite entertaining.”
Making the message accessible
While the benefits of helping to spread an eco-friendly message are numerous and obvious, we were keen to find out why this medium, and this approach, appealed to Matt and Jon above any other, and why Do The Green Thing believes that clever design is the best way to encourage people to their behaviour for the better…
“A lot of green issues all seem to be centred around really simple things we can do that all make a big difference,” says Matt, “like unplugging devices every night. There are so many charities around, but this just seemed to us like a good way of promoting these issues in a way that people can actually get behind, and one we could put our skills to work on.”
And Hannah only echoes the guy’s sentiment, telling us that it’s the medium that really makes the difference:
“Climate change is an incredibly important issue that’s right on our doorstep…”
“I think people can be very disempowered and turned off by climate change,” she says. “It’s an incredibly important issue that’s right on our doorstep, but people don’t really understand it, or don’t want to understand it, and they can often have a ‘not in my backyard’ view about it.
We don’t want to make people feel bad. And we don’t want to be doombringers – we think it’s much better to be positive, and to use creativity to inspire people and get their attention.
“Matt and Jon’s posters are a perfect example of how relevant it is to everyone in everyday life. Vodafone – and the tech industry as a whole – is doing great work in the sustainable sector, so we don’t want to tell people to completely stop doing things: to never switch on an electrical item ever again.
“It’s just that we’re doing too much, and we need to rein it in – to live in a bit of a better balance. And the guys’ posters are perfect at conveying that message.”
You can check out loads more eco-focussed posters and editorial on Do The Green Thing’s website.
Blowin’ in the wind: Click here to find out everything you need to know about our big investment in wind power, and how we want to make more the future of our network as sustainable as possible.