Colder Washing Campaign #Wirdrehenrunter

Scientifically Supporting the German National Behaviour Change Campaign with Behavioural Insights and an Evaluation Design

Have you every pondered much on which temperature you usually do your laundry? Chances are it is higher than needed, as washing detergents have improved over time and deliver just as good results in lower temperatures. Available data suggests that turning down your washing temperature is a powerful contribution to climate protection. Switching from 40°C to 30°C of washing temperature can save up to 38% CO2 emissions while switching from 60°C to 40°C can save up to 46% of emissions (Umweltbundesamt, 2015). Colder washing is however not yet very established as a sustainable behaviour and washing at higher temperatures is a routine most people don’t question.

In this context, WWF Germany and the consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble (P&G) Germany have launched a cooperation aiming to raise consumer awareness on this issue. The Germany-wide campaign #Wirdrehenrunter will be carried out by P&G’s brand Ariel and WWF with the key goal to reduce Germany’s average washing temperature by one degree per year and thus cut down the overall CO2 footprint. P&G is also testing this new approach to reduce its scope 3 emissions, specifically the indirect emissions related to the use phase of products.

The CSCP took up the role of scientifically supporting WWF and P&G in the process of the campaign development by introducing behavioural insights into the campaign design as well as in developing and verifying a scientifically-sound methodology to assess the success of the campaign in terms of washing temperature reduction and overall impact.

To ensure the campaign for colder washing would take into account actual behavioural barriers as well as tested tools to reach such change, a workshop series with all partners was conducted, bringing together expertise from consumer research, different target groups, behavioural science, and marketing. The workshop series focused on achieving a better understanding of barriers and opportunities for behaviour change. As a second step, the workshop series offered a chance to collaboratively develop ideas for overcoming the identified barriers with a set of tested behaviour change tools, like nudges, gamification or social norms. This informed the campaign design and interaction points with consumers.

In collaboration with WWF and P&G, the CSCP has also developed a comprehensive evaluation design for the campaign to measure changes in washing temperature and evaluate how and to which extend the campaign managed to drive behaviour change. The evaluation framework combines quantitative and qualitative methods at different stages before and after the campaign and has been reviewed by an external expert panel. The scientific monitoring is to become the basis for other Behaviour Change campaigns of the involved parties.

The #Wirdrehenrunter campaign started in August 2022 and will run for three years. The CSCP will support the evaluation process as an independent party throughout its first year of implementation.