Positive Environmentalism - Our overarching value

The Good Earthkeeping Project is dedicated to “helping to pass on a healthy planet to the next generation” but sets about it in a distinctly different way.

In the past, environmental issues have tended to be adversarial and confrontational across different sections of communities. We do not expect this situation to disappear any time soon. Indeed, we acknowledge that this approach of publicly criticizing and petitioning for change will always have an important place in our democracy. No one can doubt that using “sticks” in the past has led to producing changes of behavior over relatively short periods of time. However this approach may be less effective in long term situations such as we now face as society seeks to incrementally stimulate further environmental improvements in communities.
Unlike most other green groups, The Good Earthkeeping Project is committed to ONLY using “carrots” – more particularly the award of the The Good Earthkeeping Seal™ as an acknowledgment of companies undertaking basic environmental initiativ

How our philosophy informs our actions

This means that, while representing the project in any way, everyone should avoid criticisms or negativity but instead just be a supporter of positive environmental initiatives wherever they come from on all sides in the community. We seek to influence as partners - not as adversaries.
This focus on Positive Environmentalism is fundamental to our success because it overcomes one of the main obstacles that can stop small businesses being willing to make any environmental commitments. Despite the fact that most companies now recognize that they need -and many want- to change their practices to take account of green issues, a lot of them are still uncomfortable admitting this in public. In their eyes, there has been so much criticism of businesses in the past that they fear that if they commit to move towards becoming green, they will become an even bigger target for activists. They might be willing to adopt, say, 3 simple green initiatives yet instead of focusing on trying to achieve these, their minds stay focused on the fear of having to defend themselves over the other 99 things that others may feel they should also be doing! So they may well keep their heads down and do nothing. Positive environmentalism is intended to simply applaud the good they do on within the community.

Evidence that giving only positive reinforcement works
For anyone who suspects that Positive Environmentalism as an ineffective strategy to influence environmental initiatives in local businesses, we recommend you view the record of a most enterprising group of young people in California who entertainingly have proved its success. Please take a look at “ The Carrotmob makes it rain money” on the web at http://www.vimeo.com/925729?pg=embed&sec=925729. This powerful project deserves a wider recognition and its strategies for success could easily be adapted by other communities. At first sight, it could work most effectively in university communities to encourage recycling of bottles and cans by bars and catering establishments.

Also you can find resounding support for the power of only using positive reinforcements in the book
What Shamu Taught Me About Life, Love and Marriage by Amy Sutherland. This “How To” book is based on the author’s experiences of training captive killer whales and then applying the positive-reinforcements-only approach to domestic situations.

In a similar vein, during Dr Paling’s wildlife film making career, he trained wild garden birds at his home in Oxford, England by using only positive rewards. The resulting film for the BBC was titled “Who’s A Clever Birdie” and entertainingly demonstrated just how many steps a bird can learn as a result of it being provided with continuing positive rewards for increasingly complex behavior.

As someone who was a wildlife filmmaker for 2 decades and built a career showing what wonders of nature can be witnessed when light falls upon life, John Paling’s personal philosophy is summarized in this motto.

“Always face the sunshine and your shadows will fall behind you.”

There are no exceptions.