Green Action Week 2020

A sharing community response to crisis

How do we respond to a pandemic which threatens both 'sharing' and 'community' as we knew it?

How do we keep focus on the crises of inequality and environment when another crisis hits?

How do we imagine a more equal, greener world when the immediate priority is to stay safe?

During Green Action Week 2020, over 50 groups from 30 countries showed sharing community is not only possible during a pandemic, it is the necessary response to our shared long-term crises.

These are our stories.

Staying safe, still sharing

CUTS International (and partners in India)

Facing one of the world’s highest infection numbers, one of the world’s strictest lockdowns since March, and no sign of easing up, Green Action Week participants in India have faced some of the toughest challenges in 2020’s pandemic.

But this did not stop CUTS International and partners from finding ways that community consultations and engagement could still take place, either by video call or in person with all necessary precautions. 

One partner, Jeevan Rekha Parishad (JRP), first organised webinars for senior residents on urban rooftop gardening and beekeeping, and then shared the results: promoting sustainable consumption (and vital pollination) even when people had to stay in their own homes.

Without the ability to organise large-scale events or street campaigning (as in previous years), CUTS International and partners took to mainstream media as a vital way to reach many more people, and to spread trusted information and ideas among the misinformation that spreads in a pandemic. 

Consumer Council of Fiji

The Consumer Council of Fiji wanted to connect older and younger people so that traditional cultures of sharing could be passed between generations through tales and song.

They also spotted potential opportunities within the current challenge:

“The covid-19 pandemic has made consumers re-evaluate their attitudes towards the environment. Consumers have developed a renewed sense of optimism that damage done to the environment is reversible.”

Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute

SAFCEI faced the challenge of covid restrictions by organising a series of webinars for faith communities:   

“As a community of Earthkeepers, we recognize the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things in nature.

One thing you can do that will help you live more sustainably and create nutritious food for your faith community, is grow a food garden at your place of worship.”

Telling a sharing story

PELUM Uganda

Meet Joseph. Joseph cares about his fellow farmers who are finding that expensive seeds are preventing them from being able to plant sustainably during harvest. Joseph gave up his own building to be refurbished as a community seed bank to help each other as well as help the environment.

“𝙄 𝙘𝙖𝙡𝙡 𝙤𝙣 𝙛𝙖𝙧𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙨 𝙩𝙤 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙨𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙚 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙙𝙨 𝙖𝙢𝙤𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙚𝙡𝙫𝙚𝙨…𝙜𝙤 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙩𝙤 𝙥𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙩, [𝙖𝙣𝙙] 𝙖𝙛𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙝𝙖𝙧𝙫𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙬𝙚 𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙪𝙧𝙣 𝙬𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙚 𝙗𝙤𝙧𝙧𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙙 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙩𝙤 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙢𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙙 𝙗𝙖𝙣𝙠, 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙬𝙞𝙡𝙡 𝙝𝙚𝙡𝙥 𝙈𝙥𝙞𝙜𝙞 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙩 𝙩𝙤 𝙜𝙧𝙤𝙬.”

– Joseph Mukasa

PELUM Uganda wanted to share a story that showed it was possible to revive traditional seed sharing between community members in a way that improves farmers’ access to quality and diverse seeds and leads to more resilient and self-reliant communities. They wanted to make it personal and relateable, so they chose to show it through interviewing one person at one community seed bank, taking photographs of the process to create the seed bank and then coming back later in the week to photograph the seed bank in action, being used by the community. 

Yogyakarta Consumer Foundation (Indonesia)

Two days after the urban farming training by Yogyakarta Consumer Foundation,  the women’s group in Saman village tried to plant more vegetable seeds in the village’s common area. They created their own graphics to show how the training led to waste-reducing planting of vegetables.

Consumers Lebanon

Consumers Lebanon knew their story would have to be told in stages, as they were filming instructional videos about creating balcony gardens first, then supporting participants to make their own, and finally getting to see the results. 

Mixing media

Asociación Peruana de Consumidores y Usuarios (ASPEC - Peru)

In Peru, TikTok has been in the top ten used apps every month throughout 2020. ASPEC knew they wanted to better reach younger audiences and so decided to experiment with the short homemade videos edited together with music which are the usual format on TikTok.  Click on the posts above to see the original videos on Facebook and TikTok.

The experimentation did not stop with video, as Elizabeth from ASPEC explains:

“Cartoons allow us to express a story or thought in a single picture. We
seek to convey citizens about the importance of sharing and sustainable
consumption through characteristic characters, and with whom many
identify, and trying a bit to put in some humour. In this way we
reach different age groups.”

– Elizabeth Iberico (ASPEC)

The Network for Consumer Protection (Pakistan)

The Network for Consumer Protection unleashed the social media expertise of students in Islamabad. After introducing them to the theme of sharing community, the different groups came up with their own content and campaigns, and it was not long before their hashtag was trending across the whole country.

Centro Ecológico (Brazil)

Centro Ecológico filmed videos with teachers on recycled school kit.

They also supported a community project to build a shelter for vulnerable cats and dogs in the area.

“And, as a permanent resident, Sorriso was found after she disappeared – a note was left at the Condominium informing his location and that he was injured. The guardian angels brought her back home, where she was taken care of with the attention the animals deserve.

Making it personal

Consumers Association Penang (Malaysia)

Consumers Association Penang were launching a guidebook on pest management and home gardens, and put great attention to the detail of how they communicated it in order to reach and persuade more people. 

A focus on interviewing and capturing stories from individuals told a more personal story, like in this photo:

“Evelyn, purchasing organic papaya, pumpkins and leafy vegetables from Looi Teik’s farm in Balik Palau”

A personal story also led to media coverage, with this article by The Star beginning:

“WITH more time spent at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Penangites like Nur Izzah Fakharudin have found an interest in urban gardening and gotten serious about making healthy choices as consumers…”

CAP also found other ways to spread the story via different media, as even with 120 attendees, a well-communicated story can reach more than any event. 

Komalpreet Kaur interviewed for her continued support and participation at CAP’s Green Action Week since they started holding it in 2013.

“The word INSECT leads many to visualize a creepy, crawly, ugly and dirty looking creature in the surroundings.
Without this creature, farming and gardening cannot be successful.”

To make sure everyone in the community was included, the pest management guidebook was created in four languages: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.

And finally – never forget the power of heartwarming stories from children.

“He has been eyeing this book for some time. Finally convinced his dad to get it.”

“Students from SK Convent Greenlane dressed in beneficial insect costumes.”

Consumer Voice (India)

Consumer Voice could not have a photographer visit people in their homes, so they recruited ‘environment saviours’ from the community who filmed their own homemade videos to spread messages about plastic, home gardening, reusing of waste and newspapers. 

They followed this up with webinars where more people could learn the techniques from the videos in more depth, and spread the message in lifestyle and community blogs specific to their audience.

SEWA Nepal

SEWA Nepal took an innovative approach to Green Action Week where they used the process of design thinking to ask people to come up with their own ideas for Sharing Community projects. 

You can see the level of detail and strategic thinking in each of the ideas in their ‘pitch sessions’ which were broadcast live on Facebook.