Sunday, 9 May 2010

The innovator: Hermione Taylor

The green sponsorship campaigner, 26, is asking people to pledge not money but a promise to minimise their carbon footprint
Lucy Siegle
The Observer, Sunday 9 May 2010

"I get referred to as an entrepreneur now," says Hermione Taylor, sounding more than a little freaked out. "It's strange – I never thought I'd set my own thing up." With a masters in environmental studies, Taylor assumed she'd just work for an environmental organisation and chip away at policy and global law. But then she became convinced that not only were individual actions key to scaling down emissions but that there was a way of encouraging a broader audience to make behavioural changes without lecturing them or boring them into defiance.
After finishing her studies last year, Taylor and a friend cycled to Morocco. "I wasn't comfortable asking for money, but people like to invest in other people's crazy trips, so I asked them to pledge to change to low-carbon behaviours instead."
She'd hit upon a new sponsorship model that replaces cash with action. The action is geared towards cutting greenhouse gas emissions. On her first trip to Morocco she saved 16 tonnes of carbon, which amounts to "1,600 balloons full", or the equivalent of 80 flights. Now in receipt of her first grant, she hopes to have a version of up and running by the end of this summer. Anyone taking part in a challenging event, from a marathon to a sponsored silence, can register. Their supporters will then pick from 30-40 green actions, ranging from simple commitments like cutting down on meat and washing their clothes at 30C to installing solar thermal heating. Taylor has high hopes: "In the first year I hope to remove 8,000 tonnes of carbon through the action of 120,000 sponsors. The main reason I think it will work is that it's a powerful way of giving people that incentive to do things that they've ignored or kept putting it off."