Being new to the UK, I was unaware of the phenomenon that is Love Island. Over the first couple weeks of the summer, I continued to hear more and more about the reality TV show that had swept the nation. Capturing the attention of millions of people with a new episode every day, the show had a massive 4 million people tuning in live and streaming the finale. Although there was much debate about whether it was worth spending your time watching, it is undeniable that Love Island has built a platform that millions of people can’t help but pay attention to.
At Futerra we aim to make sustainability so desirable it becomes normal. Love Island seemed to have the formula of desirability, so I wondered, what can sustainability learn from Love Island?
- To stay grafting – Love Island calls us to evaluate our own lives.
Love Island put relationship dynamics on full display. From the ups and downs of Wes and Megan to the smooth ride of Jani (Jack and Dani), we could relate to what was happening with each couple and see how it may (or may not) be reflective of our own lives. It gave people the opportunity to see by example their own relationship goals by showcasing the good, the bad and the ugly. Because the show is specifically built around dating, the contenders reinforced and rewarded good dating behaviour and openly called out bad dating behaviour. Love Island provided a way to openly judge our preferences and reflect on our opinions towards relationships.
With sustainability however, it can often be hard to see the direct relation to our own lives. It can often feel distant, like you give and give but don’t get much back. But we can learn to follow in the footsteps of Love Island. Good sustainable actions should be rewarded. Small rewards schemes are popping up more and more, such as discounts for bringing reusable cups and tote bags but there should be even more opportunities to make good, sustainable, behaviours even more desirable.
How can we build more ways for people to see how sustainability relates to their own life and give them the inspiration and incentive to live more sustainably?
- To do bits – Love Island lets us control the narrative.
As audience members, we frequently got the opportunity to vote for our favourite islanders, and “the islanders with the fewest votes” had to leave the island. Tweets and polls from the public were often the centerpiece of challenges within the show and your tweet may have even been used as a way to shake things up between the islanders. Giving those who watch an opportunity to participate in the story empowered them to tune in and take action.
Sustainability can often feel like something that should be left to the experts however if we are going to solve massive, complex global problems, we need everyone to get on board and play a part.
How can sustainability find ways to help more people feel as those their actions will make an immediate difference?
- To couple up – Love Island brought different people together and created community inside and outside the villa.
Within the show, Love Island created beautiful, unlikely relationships. Take Dr. Alex and stationary salesman Jack for example. They probably would have never met without Love Island, but waking up to each other every morning, they grew a solid, love-filled bromance. All the boys came from various backgrounds but came together around shared experiences in the ‘Do Bits Society.’ It was the first time Megan found real friendship with other woman who helped her deal with her insecurities. Outside of the show, communities built around what was happening in the show. Were you team Georgia or Laura? What couple were you backing to win? Who really went in for that kiss? The show gave opportunities to create a community and connect with others.
Sustainability communities can often be guilty of preaching to the choir and sharing within our own echo chamber.
How can sustainability open up to bring more people from various backgrounds and experiences together while creating opportunities for more people to connect to issues they care about?
- To be “loyal” – You can’t ghost on Love Island.
On Love Island, if you screw someone over, there is no option to ignore their texts and move on. You still have to live with them and deal with the consequences of your decisions. This adds to the drama and tension that makes Love Island exciting and kept people tuning in night after night.
With sustainability we often have to deal with the fact that we can’t always see the impact of our actions and we don’t have to deal with the consequences of our trash or the pollution we contribute to.
How can we incentivise people to take more responsibility for their decisions?
- To learn people’s type – Love Island showed us the power of personalisation.
The reusable water bottles on Love Island might as well have been a featured character. The water bottles were seen in countless shots and were personalised to give them an added emotional layer. In addition, the water bottles were for sale as merchandise so fans could get in on the action with their own personalised bottle, adding to their connection to the show and participants. The bottles played a massive role in making reusable water bottles a status item as well as creating an emotional connection to the show.
How can we give sustainability more status and emotion through personalization?
Though Love Island may not provide all the answers to the saving the world, it can give us some insight into how to engage mass audiences. It’s shown us ways to inspire people by creating the space for them to connect to issues in their own lives, empower them to take action by seeing the impact it can have, and directly showing the consequences of decisions. And not to mention, it made reusable water bottles the must have item of the summer.