If you have friends who have run the London Marathon or if you have a charity close to your heart, chances are you know about the world of sponsorship – doing challenges to raise money and awareness. Pledge For The Planet is sponsorship with a difference as it encourages people to make ethically-minded behavioural changes instead of donating money. We talk with founder Alice Kendall to find out more.
For those who don't already know, what is Pledge For The Planet?
Pledge for the Planet is sponsorship with a difference. An environmental pledging platform aimed at runners, triathletes or anyone who is taking on a challenge. The website allows you (the participant) to create an event page and share it with friends and family, inviting them to support your challenge with behavioural sponsorship in the form of environmental pledges.
There are 16 pledges to choose from spanning food, fashion, travel and plastic. When a supporter selects a pledge and how long they want to keep it for, they will see the direct impact they will personally have by sticking to it. For example, by pledging to go meat-free one day a week for a month you will save 10.3kg GHG emissions. The person you are supporting by pledging will also be notified of the difference you are making.
What made you first decide to develop the idea of Pledge For The Planet?
The idea came to me when I was training for the Edinburgh marathon last year. I have always loved running; I have run for charities in the past but felt like I had asked for donations too many times and wanted to come up with an alternative way for people to show their support. As an environmentally conscious person, I would often find myself gently lecturing friends and family about why they should cut down on their meat consumption or pull a horrified face if I saw them drinking from a single-use plastic bottle.
A lot of the time our consumerist behaviour boils down to being stuck in a routine of unsustainable bad habits. I wanted to find a way to encourage people to actively swap these habits for an environmentally friendly alternative. I thought that by using the motivation of a friend taking part in a tough challenge (e.g. a marathon) you are much more likely to commit to your own personal challenge (e.g. commuting under your own steam one day a week) as a way of showing them your support.
What makes Pledge For The Planet different?
Pledge for the Planet is different because there is no money involved in sponsorship, your behaviour is your currency. The website allows you to ask for sponsorship or sponsor someone by committing to an environmental pledge.
Climate change feels overwhelming so PFTP helps people to make a difference and engage in positive change in a bite size and manageable way. It allows someone who is taking part in a race to inspire and challenge their friends and family to sponsor them with a pledge. We believe that if we all start to make small changes to the way we live, collectively we can have an incredibly positive and powerful impact on our environment.
What is the ultimate goal of Pledge For The Planet?
The ultimate goal is to get many people as possible to use the website as a way to ask for sponsorship when taking on their races and challenges. By using the ‘can-do’ attitude you get from taking on a sporting challenge, we hope this will inspire change, create conversations about pressing environmental issues and encourage as many people as possible to switch to more planet conscious lifestyle habits. We hope that this will educate and motivate people to be mindful in their actions towards our planet.
What are some of the pledges you've had so far?
There are 16 pledges to choose from which span food, fashion, travel and plastic. So far, the most popular pledge has been to ‘Shop Unpacked’ – only buying loose fresh produce and stocking up on dry good from zero waste shops. This pledge is really important because 91% of plastic is not recycled, even though you might put it into your recycling bin. It ends up in landfill or oceans and food packaging is the worst culprit.
Why is it important for people to make environmentally-minded pledges?
I think it’s important for people to realise that you can start by making small changes to you daily lifestyle and build it up from there. It doesn’t have to seem so overwhelming, it’s about being positive and feeling like you can make manageable changes.
Ultimately, it’s important for people to make environmentally-minded pledges because we are in the midst of a climate crisis, we need to be more responsible for our actions and think about the effect we are having on our planet. But it doesn’t have to feel like this scary, impossible and totally daunting task. We should all start by doing what we can, supporting each other in our path to sustainability with whichever changes we feel that we can commit to and build from there.
How can people get involved?
People can get involved in two ways. Either by signing up for an event and creating a page on www.pledgefortheplanet.org and sharing it to ask for sponsorship in the form of environmental pledges. Or by sponsoring someone taking on a race or challenge by selecting an environmental pledge to stick to.