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.”