After the furore around the recent ACT ON CO2 television advert it's time to promote a convenient truth: low-carbon lifestyles are fun.

Is it time for some new tricks when it comes to sustainability? Photo: mylerdude

The sustainability stories you see in the media are often like extreme New Year's resolutions. They're about going without a bath, living without money or even eating our pets to reduce CO2.

That's worrying, because (apart from the fact that my dog doesn't look too tasty) psychologists argue that this approach to changing your lifestyle is doomed to failure. Setting unattainable goals that you quickly fail to achieve leaves you depressed and demoralised. So let's set a different New Year's resolution for sustainability communications: make low-carbon life sound like fun.

In their new report, Sell the Sizzle, Futerra's sustainability communications specialists set out their solution: we need to talk about the heaven of low-carbon life, not the hell of climate change. The ACT ON CO2 ad is the stuff of nightmares. We need to sell the dream.

That shouldn't be too hard; there's already a lot about low-carbon life that's pretty appealing. When I take the train and not the car, I can relax and get work done. Much of the local, organic food I get delivered to my door costs less than it would to fetch it from the supermarket.

Now imagine how much better it would be if I could take a train powered by renewable electricity that took me places even more quickly. What if my food came from a community-owned farm, so I got a portion of the profits as a share of the crops?

Isn't that a better thing to sell people than the doom and gloom of climate crisis? Of course, there will always be some people who will do the right thing, whatever it takes. And others who won't do anything unless there's a financial gain to be had. But most of us are in the middle -- we just need a positive message, and a bit of fun, and we're there.

If you can make the stairs in our office more fun than the lift, we'll take them. And this recent Volkswagen campaign shows just how to do it.

So if you're in the business of sustainability communications, make this your resolution for 2010: lighten up, it's supposed to be fun.

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