10 PIECES FOR A CLEANER WORLD
10 Pieces is a new environmental sustainable tourism initiative that encourages group tour travellers to pick up 10 pieces of litter per day on their overseas tour.
The initiative provides a segue between standard tours and voluntourism, enabling travellers to truly make a difference by simply picking up 10 pieces of litter – as travellers before them have done and travellers after them will continue to do.
Most travellers and tour companies currently follow the mantra of ‘Take only photographs, leave only footprints’, but 10 Pieces takes this one step further with its mantra of ‘Take only photographs and litter, leave only footprints’.
Developing countries are plagued by litter and the problems associated with it, ultimately endangering plant and animal life as well as our own. Often this is due to the local community littering, but more often than not it is due to inconsiderate tourists who exacerbate the problem.
10 Pieces will not only beautify the regions in which it is conducted, it will also set a good example for fellow travellers and the local community. Community engagement and education would follow.
10 Pieces benefits not only the local community by creating a cleaner environment, but also the travellers themselves who benefit from more beautiful surroundings and who feel like they are truly making a difference. Further, making a positive difference leads to travellers’ increased satisfaction with a tour (Holmes & Smith, 2009) and hence encourages repeat business for the tour company involved.
Success parameters will be converting 20% of G Adventures’ group tour travellers to conduct the ‘10 Pieces’ initiative at least once within the next three years.
The evidence to support the adoption of 10 Pieces is vast. For the final Capstone subject of my Master of Business in International Marketing, I researched the viability of launching the initiative. Extensive primary and secondary research was conducted. Primary exploratory research took the form of: focus groups with consumers (x2, 6 people each); one-on-one interviews with group tour companies (x7); one-on-one interviews with Clean Up Australia and Two Hands Project (x2); and an online survey with consumers (x1, 194 respondents).
Both travellers and tour companies alike were interested in implementing the initiative. The age group the most interested (neutral and above) was actually 18-24 year olds at 88%, followed by 25-34 year olds at 80%, 35-44 at 76% and 45-54 at 69%. Out of the 7 tour companies interviewed, all of them were interested in implementing 10 Pieces.
Tour companies and travellers’ main motivators are:
Travellers may be greatly affected by litter, yet they would only be motivated to pick it up depending on location, source, and connection. The locations that motivate travellers the most tend to be natural landscapes, particularly beaches, rivers, and hiking trails, or when it affects animals or children. Travellers are also more likely to pick up litter if its presence is due to other negligent tourists or other largely unavoidable circumstances. Further if they care about the spaces or if it resembles their home environment, they are more likely to be motivated e.g. people living on the coast tend to be more motivated by beaches.
-formalising an ingrained behaviour
Research revealed that the ‘10 Pieces’ initiative harnesses what people already do on their own but further legitimises their behaviour. Many travellers already pick up other people’s litter. “Wouldn’t you do that? I do that. If I’m on a bushwalk… and there’s garbage around… I’ll pick it up”, Christine, 36. Terrie-Ann Johnson, Clean Up Australia’s Chief Executive further believes ‘10 Pieces’ would be seen as a positive influence as it helps to justify to others why they are picking up litter (Johnson, 04/10/12).
Research findings supported that ease was one of the main reasons why travellers and tour companies alike would engage in the initiative. [It would be] “…very easy to incorporate into a tour” (Marketing Manager, a Global Adventure Group Tour Company, 24/10/12).
-making a difference
Research findings showed travellers and tour companies’ main ‘reward’ would be to see that the ‘10 Pieces’ initiative is actually making a difference. Thus the more travellers believe it is making a difference, the more motivated they will be and the more likely they will be to signing up to ‘10 Pieces’ for a second or future time.
Individuals are more likely to exhibit behaviour if it results in valued outcomes (positive reinforcement) (Bandura, 1986 in Mazziotta et al., 2011: 258). Whilst ‘making a difference’ was the main outcome, research also suggested respondents would seek some form of social gratification or validation; “You want people to know”, Tori, 29. ‘10 Pieces’ could therefore potentially be seen as a way to leverage one’s social status by using it to display how an individual has picked up more litter or picked up litter in more locations than others.
-compatibility with community needs
A major prerogative for the travel industry is to develop initiatives that are beneficial for both travellers and the local communities they are visiting. In the case of ‘10 Pieces’, travellers could tailor their litter picking initiatives to suit the local communities given litter is typical to a destination e.g. collecting plastic whiskey sachets on Mount Cameroon.
Logistics was the number one concern of survey respondents (see report, Appendix 8.5, q.17) as well as tour companies. This was identified as an issue in terms of carrying, transporting and disposing of litter.
Carrying litter was identified as a problem for travellers, hence the solution proposed was to make litter collection and transportation easy for them. When travellers are hiking, for example, sherpas at the front, middle and back of a group could carry bags for disposal (a group tour Responsible Tourism Manager, 12/10/12). When I was travelling, I would often find discarded plastic bags as per the photo above and use it to carry the rubbish I collected. However, (branded) dry sacks would be a far superior option and could be used by each traveller for easy litter collection and subsequent re-use.
Companies were apprehensive about the space and potential smell whilst transporting litter, however, it was agreed that this could be largely overcome by picking up small and largely non-malodourous items such as cigarette butts when travelling through areas for extended periods of time without suitable litter disposal.
Litter disposal was nonetheless resoundingly identified as the largest concern. One group tour company was extremely concerned by this issue largely due to their past experiences with collecting and disposing of litter. In many destinations they frequent, waste disposal and recycling facilities are very basic and often litter is just moved from one site to another (a group tour Responsible Travel Manager, 17/09/12). For example, on past litter picking trips in Egypt, litter removed from the beach was dumped at a desert side and left to blow around the desert and when taking litter to a particular campsite, it was simply ‘chucked’ over the wall or burnt. Not only does this defeat the purpose of litter picking, going against the notion of ‘making a difference’, it can also prove to be worse for the environment. “…it’s not good to leave the plastic bags lying around but is burning them even worse?” (a group tour Responsible Travel Manager, 02/10/12). Potential solutions identified were encouraging tour leaders, operations managers or locals who know the area well to identify suitable litter disposal locations and/or to develop waste disposal facilities.
'10 Pieces’ capitalises on the latest trends whereby:
-There is a growing interest in sustainable tourism and voluntourism (CMIGreen in Planeterra Foundation, 25/10/12) and associated Corporate Social Responsibility (Scott, 2007: 7) - driving the relevance of the initiative
-Consumers are striving for sustainable consumption and becoming increasingly sceptical of companies with ‘half-hearted eco initiatives’; every aspect of the product or service must be sustainable (Super Eco) (Trendwatching, 30/08/12) - driving the sincerity of the initiative
-Soon the only way to stand out in the eco sphere will be to be over generous; ‘cleaning up not only your own mess but someone else’s too’ (Eco Boosters) (Trendwatching, 30/08/12) - driving the core of the initiative
-Companies are increasingly making it easier for consumers to do the right thing (Eco Easy) (Trendwatching, 30/08/12) - driving the simplicity and ease of the initiative
-Friends, families and followers are greatly influencing consumers’ purchasing decisions (The F-Factor) (Trendwatching, 30/08/12) and consumers are looking for diverse ways to get their status fix (Statusphere) “As consumers are starting to recognise and respect fellow consumers who stray off the beaten consuming-more-than-thou-path, ‘new’ status can be about acquired skills, about eco-credentials, about generosity, about connectivity...” (Trendwatching, 30/08/12) - driving the social element of the initiative
And lastly, to throw some theory in here, the Diffusion of Innovation theory states an innovation’s adoption rate varies predominantly by: relative advantage (perceived as superior); compatibility (consistency with values), complexity (difficulty in understanding and use), trialability (degree to which the innovation can be experimented with); and observability (visibility of effects); of which the first two factors are the most important (Ozaki & Dodgson, December 2010: 314). ‘10 Pieces’ has: a high relative advantage due to its greater convenience, social prestige and satisfaction; high compatibility with existing norms, values and practices; a high degree of simplicity; a high degree of trialability; and highly observable results both on the day within the team and through post-tour updates. This thus equates with a fast rate of adoption. Moreover, Rogers believes once 10-25% of the population adopt an innovation, there is a relatively rapid adoption by the rest of the population (Rogers, 2003 in Ozaki & Dodgson, December 2010: 314) also known as the ‘tipping point’ commencing with innovators and early adopters and moving into the early majority. Once ‘10 Pieces’ attracts an initial following, it should perpetually increase in popularity.
For additional evidence, please request a copy of my 83 page report assessing 10 Pieces’ viability.
10 Pieces has a recommended development period of 12 weeks: 2 weeks to investigate opportunities within G Adventures’ existing tour portfolio; 4 weeks to manage the integration into each tour and 6 weeks to manage 10 Pieces’ marketing materials for tour information packs. Further there would be ongoing program management to ensure success and post-trip evaluation with tour leader and participants.
The projected costs involved are:
-website including eCommerce development and algorithm to track litter collected $10,000
-10 Pieces’ marketing materials* $5,000
-litter picking and disposal materials $2,500
-10 Pieces merchandise initial order $2,500
-10 Pieces’ fulfillment $5,000
*Includes development of virtual badges for use on travellers’ social networks to display the amount of litter they have collected per continent
(future funding will be put towards developing an app showing heavily littered locations and the nearest and best disposal options)
Overseas litter picking initiatives to date have been met with varying degrees of success. Existing initiatives typically involve a large effort, appeal to a narrow target market, occur infrequently and cover a limited range of geographical areas. Perhaps the most successful of these initiatives is Clean Up the World (CUW) which Clean Up Australia (CUA) purports is ‘one of the largest community-based environmental campaigns in the world’ (CUW, 20/08/12). In spite of its success, however, it only occurs once a year. For the rest of the year, litter continues to accumulate and interest in litter picking wanes. Other global litter picking initiatives appear to be conducted on an independent basis. For example ‘Two Hands Project’ which encourages people to take 30 minutes to pick up litter (using their two hands) – anytime, anywhere in the world (Two Hands Project, 30/08/12) and ‘Take 3’ which encourages people worldwide to take three pieces of litter from a beach, waterway or anywhere with them when they leave (Take 3, 20/08/12).
There exists thus a gap in the market as when compared with existing overseas litter picking initiatives, ‘10 Pieces’ would not only increase the frequency with which litter would be removed, but also cover a wider geographical area and engage a broader audience due the initiative’s inherent simplicity.
A tour company’s partners could also become involved in the initiative over time e.g. scuba diving companies that encourage their divers to collect 10 pieces of litter before, after or on their dive.
10 Pieces could also ultimately be included in our daily lives even when we’re at home, beautifying our own surroundings.
10 Pieces is yet to be implemented in the market, hence first mover advantage will be significant for any company desiring to be perceived as the leading sustainable group tour provider.
A detailed 83 page report assessing 10 Pieces’ viability is available upon request, as is a proposal summarising all key findings.
Further, having recently spent 11 months in Africa successfully implementing this initiative, I am extremely passionate about it and believe it has potential.
For lighter reading about my 10 Pieces journey, see my blog entries here:
Finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time to vote and comment on my idea so far. I have included your feedback where possible into my submission so please keep voting and commenting to help make this idea a reality!
What's a Pulse?
An idea's Pulse is calculated by a unique algorithm that rates views, votes and comments according to their activity over time. It was designed to promote the exposure of newly submitted yet engaging ideas. Although the exact way we calculate the Pulse is our bit of secret sauce, when people start viewing, voting, and leaving comments your Pulse will increase. Ultimately, the growth of your Pulse is proportionate to how much attention your idea is getting.
712.5 on Apr 6, 2013