Defaulting Sustainability

What are your defaults in life? What do you fall back on?

Google announced (at least for the US) that they will show you the greenest rather than the fastest route when you search for directions on Google Maps. That’s powerful; and that’s also the method that companies including banks which are switching to ‘paperless’ statements are doing to their customers. First they made it an opt-in to have paper statements (ie. by default, you get electronic statements), and then they might even put a fee on paper statements down the road.

Maybe if we are not cutting plastic bags yet, we could make it default for shops not to give bags. Just pass the customer a product after check-out. Let the customer ask for bags. If they don’t ask, they don’t get the bags. Don’t let your staff ask if they need; let the customer know politely if they want bags, they need to ask. Use signs to tell them that.

Defaulting to the green option rather than the most convenient option works and is important. Make ‘bring your own containers’ default for takeaway by always asking customers if they have their own containers, then reminding them there’s a fee for the takeaway containers.

Change the defaults, save the planet.