Gotland’s Ugliest Lawn
By launching the competition Gotland’s Ugliest Lawn, Region Gotland showed the world that sustainability initiatives don’t have to be boring. Not only did the campaign result in a significant decrease in water use, it also helped people see the beauty in an ugly lawn.
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The Swedish island Gotland, a popular summer resort, risked running out of water due to unusually little rainfall during spring. The local authorities needed to make people aware of the water shortage and the importance of reduced water use. But how could they get locals and visitors to listen to yet another sustainability message?
Region Gotland launched Gotland’s Ugliest Lawn – a competition on Instagram celebrating lawn owners who save groundwater by not watering their lawns. Proud gotlanders challenged the norm of green lawns by posting images of their ugly dry lawns and made water saving the talk of the island.
When the winner was announced in August, Gotland’s Ugliest Lawn and the water shortage issue became a universal discussion. The winner was interviewed by BBC Newsday and Swedish televison, and the initiative was praised by media institutions like The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC Global News Podcast, The Observer, CBC, Treehugger and Neue Zürcher Zeitung. The campaign reached 788 million people globally, and as a result Gotland inspired people all over the world to save water during a global drought.
The water consumption on Gotland decreased with 5% compared to previous summer, and the island avoided running out of water. According to the Gotland waterworks largely thanks to the impact of Gotland’s Ugliest Law.
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