Whether Boston will become the greenest city in America hinges partly on how long Nathan Got­tier and Jess Gillane can go meat­less on Mondays.

Four months ago, the couple signed a pledge — he to unplug elec­tronics at night and she to cook tofu once a week — as part of an ambi­tious city-​​led exper­i­ment that seeks to moti­vate res­i­dents to change their daily habits enough to cut green­house gas emis­sions 7 per­cent by 2020.

Called Green­o­vate Boston , the six-​​month-​​old cam­paign refuses to use gloomy pro­jec­tions of global warming cat­a­strophe to moti­vate res­i­dents to adopt greener behavior. Instead, it is using social sci­ence, sta­tis­tics, and, most of all, small steps, to engage people to take a per­sonal stake in cre­ating a more sus­tain­able city. As the pro­gram begins to gain fol­lowers, how­ever, a ques­tion looms large: Will people keep it up long enough to make a difference?

If someone told me I had to unplug every­thing I have and eat tofu every day, that would be hard,’’ said Got­tier, a North­eastern Uni­ver­sity senior studying civil engi­neering. “But what made this work for me so far is it’s a small com­mit­ment — I don’t have to change my entire lifestyle.”


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