Social warming can make children

Concepts are turned upside down and sweet music evolves in a graduation project that challenges doomsday prophesies.

Social warming is created in the bedroom when two people huddle under the comforter, and it does not mean that the pleasure-seeking couple may be facing an addition to the family, they are also saving on heating costs. And in this context that is what counts.

Anna Høy Mikkelsen and Julie Andersen Feldthaus are recent communication design graduates, and their joint graduation project turns certain concepts on their head in an attempt to make us take better care of the environment.

- We want to challenge the doomsday prophesies that the polar ice is melting, the polar bear is drowning and Africa is hit by drought. The problem is that these prophesies are based on natural science, and in Denmark the consequences do not impact us, and if they did, there may be people who would think that it is an advantage that temperatures are rising, says Anna Høy Mikkelsen.

Good karma
The two designers have created a movement they call ”Byddhism,” and the underlying sentiment is humour, when they use motivational tactics such as economy, convenience, health etc. in their attempt to make us think sustainably.

- Everyone knows that we have to do something about global warming and that we must act more sustainably, but unfortunately we do not react until we meet the consequences in our day-to-day activities. We are inspired by Buddhism, which is based on balance and on the concept of karma, which teaches that you receive what you give: Doing something byddhistic has a positive effect, says Julie Andersen Feldthaus.

Trousers in the freezer
Similar to the other graduates the designers have collaborated with an external partner, in this case the Urban and Development Administration in the municipality of Kolding, which is interested in involving the citizens in more sustainable consumption. The challenge has been to convince the citizens to save water, drive their cars less, eat locally, turn down the thermostat and take fewer flights.

Anna Høy Mikkelsen and Julie Andersen Feldthaus have interviewed a number of citizens about their habits and attitudes, and the results have been collected in four books, which describe four types of Danes: the passive, the newly conscious, the balanced, and the convinced.

- The campaign itself consists of 12 posters which will be placed around town. Based on interviews with citizens we have created new words formed on the basis of a story they themselves have told. For example dwashing is inspired by a girl who wrote that she does not have smelly feet and can therefore wear her socks one week at a time, which is both a saving and convenient, Anna Høy Mikkelsen explains.

A spoiled brat project
Even though the campaign is first being tested in Kolding the designers hope that other cities will jump on the idea and that Danes will sign up for the campaign with the Byddhists contributing their own suggestions for savings and hence have more concepts included in the byddhist dictionary.

- Both of us have experienced that the more we work with sustainability the more aware we become of the necessity to do something. It is not that difficult to do that in one’s everyday life, even though we are students and do not have much money. We buy more organic products, turn off the light, turn down the thermostat and wear the same clothes for several days, Julie Andersen Feldthaus explains.

- At school everyone talks a lot about sustainability and we were getting tired of hearing about it, so when we started talking about our project we were teased for doing a ”spoilt brat” project. Hence it was important to us to do an unorthodox project which did not point fingers and was based on ordinary everyday stories which people can recognise and copy, says Anna Høy Mikkelsen.