This month we find out what inspires Andy, one half of ‘Matt and Andy‘, an entertaining duo helping people make behaviour change, “because if it’s not fun and simple, it doesn’t work!”
1. How did you first become interested in environmental issues?
I have a performance background and for the New Zealand Dairy Industry I created a show that toured to 300 schools across the whole country. I was part of a propaganda package that gave teachers educational resources, and got kids engaged with the dairy industry through the live performance, an online website as well as field trips to dairy farms. To my dismay I soon learnt the dairy industry in New Zealand was responsible for the degradation of the waterways. I also observed there was no one who offered dynamic environmental performances that also tied in with existing environmental campaigns. So I decided to use my skills for a good cause and promote sustainability through performance. Lucky for me I had a friend called Matt who shared my passion for performance and the environment.
(Andy, right in the first photo above, and his friend Matt make up ‘Matt and Andy’)
2. What have been the biggest highlights of your journey so far?
Some of our performances are designed for adults and others are for schools. With the adults I enjoy the discussions after the show. The fact people come up to us after the performance proves our approach works and people like us! I think comedy works because New Zealanders and Australians can be quite stubborn people who don’t like to feel they are being preached at. Often they say to us ‘god we thought you were going to be a bunch of greenies forcing stuff down our throats’. I think we were wise to choose a blue uniform. We are like greenies in disguise.
With young people, I have really enjoyed their reaction to the worm character in our food waste show. We have seen young people desiring to be chosen to look after their school’s worm farm.
3. What has been the biggest obstacle? How did you / are you overcoming it?
I personally don’t connect with the word ‘education’ when dealing with environmental issues. Rightly or wrongly I now connect environment education with a regurgitation of facts.
A) I think we should focus far more on behaviour change and inspiring people rather than sharing facts. A multitude of facts can actually be paralysing to those who aren’t disposed to green issues. I believe we need to see more variety with how we get people to be part of the solution.
B) I wish to see marketing campaigns for waste issues created that can be used by all 31 councils in Melbourne. I think the branding of environmental campaigns needs to improve a lot. For instance, some water utility companies have a ‘choose tap’ campaign, others have a ‘go tap’ campaign. Having differently named campaigns on the same message creates confusion amongst the community. Another example is the fact that recycling bin lids are a different colour in each council. Again, you lose a valuable opportunity to do city or statewide marketing on key recycling messages. We could save a lot of money and reach more people if the 31 Councils could pull resources.
4. What future plans or goals are you excited about?
Our goal is to be touring schools with our food waste show across the State of Victoria. We have created a package that includes a live performance, online videos to assist with behaviour change, stickers for food only bins and compost bins , as well as posters. We will also be creating a brand to tie this package together. We want kids to see a prominent brand that is related to the environment in the classroom, online and in the playground. I often say we need to learn from the advertising tactics used by big corporations.
5. What advice would you offer to other students who are interested in environmental issues and who might want to inspire others at their school?
When teaching, share your story on what makes you passionate about sustainability and the environment. Don’t be afraid to get personal. Share your dreams and your goals. So often I see people share 100 facts in a single session and they neglect the vision on how we can change the status quo.
Look at Elon Musk. When he bought into Tesla Motors (they make electric cars) he wrote down what he wanted to achieve and he stayed true to the vision. He offered people a better alternative to gas-powered cars. We have more chance at inspiring people by sharing the green future than we do at confronting people with all they are doing wrong. Good luck!
Thank you Andy for sharing your story.
For more information, visit the Matt and Andy website.