When we started Eco-Spotlight, we knew we wanted to celebrate solutions, big or small. Conversations around sustainability and the environment have increased globally over the last few years with mindfulness around vegan diets, conscious fashion and eco-friendly practices gaining a place in mainstream conversations. The Guardian has refused to advertise fossil fuel firms, signups for Veganuary are consistently rising every year and companies like Microsoft have announced their plans to become carbon negative.
While individual and corporate have a long way to go, these are steps and solutions in the right direction. To our delight, this year’s D&AD’s New Blood Awards jumped on the bandwagon as well with Connect4Climate’s brief being simple yet punchy: Inspire meaningful behaviour change towards a sustainable lifestyle. The idea was to promote change that was significant and widespread in their local context and countries. As they state, ‘remember that personal actions by many people can create a movement, and movements change the world’. We couldn’t agree more.
Eco-Spotlight has a quick chat with Dhruvil Shah, the junior designer at Landor Mumbai and one of the contenders for the award. Along with Shreya Arora, he pitched ‘Together, Wegan’. The idea behind the project was that there is a much larger group of people who care about the causes but need a little hand-holding. ‘I would go vegan, but I can’t give up cheese.’ ‘I can’t follow a diet with zero cheat days!’ We often forget sustainable living is about helping the planet, rather than making perfect sacrifices. Veganism does not need to be black or white. Ultimately, it is better to go vegan but occasionally eat cheese, or take one cheat day a week, than it is to change nothing.
“The brief needed a campaign that would inspire Millennials and Gen Z to live more sustainably. We decided to centre our take around making veganism less daunting by putting the ‘we’ in vegan. Alone, we might not make a difference. But together, Wegan,” states Dhruvil.
Ayushi Shah (AS): Tell us about the thought process behind creating ‘Together, Wegan’.
Dhruvil Shah (DS): The brief was very open. The idea was to promote behavioural change rather than advertising something. So what Shreya and I did was that we noted the issues that the world is facing right now. Thinking about food wastage and dietary preferences brought us to the conversation around veganism. In India, veganism is perceived as an elite diet and not many people know enough about the subject. Major reasons to go vegan are either the health benefits, reducing animal cruelty or for improving your carbon footprint. But it isn’t always easy because it is usually all in or all out. With this project, we wanted to show how much we can accomplish as a community and that it is better to go vegan but occasionally eat cheese, or take one cheat day a week than it is to change nothing. Our big idea was that a thousand people giving 1% each, is more sustainable than one person giving their 100%.
AS: How important is the intersection between design and behavioural and social change? Did that conversation come up when you were brainstorming on the idea?
DS: We asked ourselves all kinds of questions before getting to the main point. As a designer, I believe that the intersection between social change and creative thinking has become increasingly important. Work creatively. You will come up with simpler and more effective solutions to things. Design enables change but creativity is the bigger game-changer.
And I think behavioural change does not come by just deciding. You start somewhere and then gradually get to your goal. You need to constantly remind yourself why you want to do it and take small steps towards getting there. Like, you start by giving up cheese one a month, then cut it down to once a week. You can decide how far you want to go.
What is a learning from this project that you would take ahead in life?
A big eye-opener in this process for me was realising that it doesn’t have to be black or white. You can make small sacrifices once in a while and you still will be making a difference. I have consciously started making them as a first step.
We all need to be mindful about this world and our environment. After all, we are the generation that can do something about it. It is us who need to educate the younger and the older generation. Without us doing that, there is no hope. We must remember that the small changes that will eventually trickle into the much-needed bigger changes.