Do The Green Thing

Using creativity to tackle climate change

Previously a digital mecca for the sustainably minded creative community, website Do The Green Thing was a thoughtful feed brimming with “playful propaganda” created by the likes of David Shrigley, Paula Scher, Neville Brody, Michael Bierut and Sir Paul Smith—to name a few. So while successful in its own right (the site reached more than 40 million people across the world), recently co-founders Naresh Ramchandani and Andy Hobsbawm decided to “roll up their sleeves” and dig deeper into the environmental issues plaguing modern society. Their mission is still very much to use creativity to tackle climate change, but thanks to the increasing use of mobile devices, they now feel comfortable employing these messages in a long-form format.

“It’s my bet that Do The Green Thing will make more noise by jumping over few higher bars than lots of low ones,” Ramchandani tells us. Issue 1, for example, is fully dedicated to how the film industry, and screenwriters in particular, can “stop ruining and start helping” to save the planet. As Pentagram’s advertising and communications partner, Ramchandani hasn’t simply posted a 3,000-word manifesto about Hollywood’s role in greening the planet. Instead, Issue 1 is a mix of written editorial pieces, screen and script hacks, useful facts and a short film called, “How to Watch a Movie,” which is inspired by old film leaders and was intended to be a preview you’d watch before embarking on the latest flick at your local cinema. Until then, Do The Green Thing is inviting readers to download it and use it free of charge.

Coincidentally, we met up with Ramchandani at a dinner during Design Indaba, where we also sat alongside legendary film designer Alex McDowell (of Fight Club, Minority Report, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas fame). McDowell stopped making films in 2012 to concentrate on a “world-building” project which uses extensive research, filmmaking and virtual reality to envision the world’s future environments and the human stories that will come with that. “But Alex is just one example of a fabulous Indaba festival which gave me lots of optimism for the future,” Ramchandani says. “The festival was full of speakers and delegates who were applying their creativity and energy to making the world a little better. I came away positively buzzing.”

Ramchandani himself was one such speaker, and his talk showed the audience how he visualizes words (his other passion). From onomatopoeias like “ping-pong” to “the H-bomb of the human language, the word ‘pathetic,'” Ramchandani enlightened the audience with new ways to understand common vernacular. We asked him if there’s a word he could have added that would speak to Do The Green Thing: “I’ve always thought that our society is enthralled by the word ‘new’—too much so. ‘New’ is a spell that makes us crave and buy far more than we really need to, leading to excess consumption, production, CO2 and so on. One of the great advantages that ‘new’ has is that there’s no great word to counter it. ‘Old’ is too archaic, ‘pre-owned’ is too grubby, ‘vintage’ is too niche. So on my to-do list is to come up with a word to describe the thing you have which makes it more attractive than the thing you could have. If anyone has any ideas, you know where to find me.”

Full of potential and utterly essential, Do The Green Thing is sure to come up with something fascinating next, and we look froward to seeing what that is. Perhaps they will take on the “desperate need for drivers and cyclists to be more tolerant of each other” (a topic that would coincide with the run-up to London’s next mayoral election) or speak to what Ramchandani considers the world’s biggest problem: population growth (their stance is contraception over celibacy). No matter what they decide for Issue 2, it’s sure to be creatively compelling and a beautiful step forward to making a better planet.

Images and video courtesy of Do The Green Thing, portrait of Naresh Ramchandani courtesy of Design Indaba