That’s the scene that took me by surprise whilst out walking the dog (bio-degradable poo bags at the ready of course). It was starting to get drizzly but I could still see quite far and it gave the horizon a moody, misty feel to it. I’d never looked at Grangemouth from that angle before, but my vantage point gave me a new perspective.

My first thought was ‘What a strange juxtaposition!’ but standing there I started to enjoy the notion that it painted a rather more positive picture - one of hope for the future.

I think it was the elevated positioning of the wind farm in this scene that made it feel like that. Thinking about the turbines rising out of the smoke made me think of the expression ‘like a phoenix rising from the ashes’. The wind farm representing the clean energy solutions of the future and the oil refinery was the old way that would be reborn as this cleaner, shinier and better version.

Idealistic you may say, but I’m told it’s more motivational to paint a positive picture of something to aspire to than to try to use the doom and gloom option to scare people into action. Apparently scary messages can have exactly the opposite effect.

The experience got me thinking about an excellent report that I had read on this very topic. It’s by Futerra, called ‘Sell the Sizzle’ and is freely available online. Another good, and freely available, report is WWF Scotland’s ‘Common Cause’. Understanding the psychology of behaviour change is definitely seen as the way forward.

I’ve seen some great behaviour change campaigns that use this kind of positive approach, like Zero Waste Scotland’s Love Food Hate Waste or Changeworks and the City of Edinburgh Council’s ‘Waste Free Edinburgh’.  

Have you found positive images, messages or techniques for engaging people on behaviour change? Have you developed or do you know of other great campaigns we could all learn from?

If you’d be keen to share best practice please leave a comment with links – thanks!