Over the holiday break, I came across an article published on the ABC titled “I’m a climate change hypocrite- but I’m making a New Year’s resolution to do things differently,” which is largely the inspiration for my post today. We all want to do better when it comes to the environment, particularly at this time with Australia being inundated with bushfires. The problem is, however, there’s not necessarily a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to environmental considerations, and many people can feel isolated and even become complacent when it comes to minimising our environmental footprint.
Author of the ABC piece, Conal Hanna writes that one of the first and most important steps in the journey is to recognise our hypocrisy when it comes to the environment and the power of self-interest, which she says has been “intrinsic to the climate change story” since the beginning of time. “As world leaders championed their citizens’ interests at global summits, at the other end of the scale sat my individual self-interests: eating steak, plane travel and ambient, air-conditioned temperatures… if we are to neutralise the threat of climate change, we must first neutralise the power of self-interest. But doing so requires a hard look at ourselves,” he writes.
“As climate protests grew louder in 2019, I found myself yearning for a mass movement not of defiance but of sacrifice.” Conal Hanna.
In recognition of this, I thought we’d talk about twelve ways that you can make your 2020 more environmentally friendly and sustainable in both the workplace and in your personal life. Before we get into the list, I think it’s important to note that while passions run extremely high with issues like this, it’s not an issue that you’re allowed to say “it’s much bigger than me” or “what difference can I make”, because that’s exactly the problem that needs to be addressed. If absolutely everyone takes that approach, then you’ll never see any of the changes made.
The West is particularly guilty when it comes to over-consumption. Our pop-culture encourages consumers to purchase the latest and greatest in order to keep up with the crowd, and there’s often a stigma attached to pulling out something like an iPhone 6 in the world of iPhone 11s. It’s important to ask yourself whether or not you genuinely need it, or whether you’re updating for the sake of it. If you’re sitting in the latter category, this might be a sign that you should curb your consumption habits which helps both the environment and your wallet from a significant amount of pain. Out of all the points I’m going to list, I’d argue this is the most significant, due to the way in which goods are shipped around the globe - predominantly from Asia - on extremely polluting diesel freighter ships.
Don’t enable ‘fast fashion’
Isn’t it incredible that you can go onto a website, purchase goods and you’ll see them arrive that same day? While it’s good for the vendor and consumer, the environment pays the biggest price when we talk about fast-fashion. The cotton production required to make the denim in your jeans is an extremely water-intensive process, and I’m a firm believer that the West’s obsession with fashion is taking a huge toll on our environment. Over-consumption of fast fashion is becoming one of the biggest challenges facing the environment, and that’s before you consider the pollution involved in shipping goods from the countries manufacturing these clothes - often Bangladesh, India, China etc - to your front door.
Buy Australian Made - Or Local - Products
This point is a big one- not only is buying Australian-produced goods an essential part of keeping our economy and manufacturing scene booming, it’s an important consideration if you want to become more environmentally conscious. Buying Australian made products supports the farmers producing the raw materials and minimises the environmental footprint in that product reaching your front door as soon as you eliminate a freight ship making its way from Asia, polluting diesel directly into the ocean as it gets here.
While the pollution of plastic bags entering our waterways and oceans might not necessarily be classified as a climate change threat, what we’re ultimately talking about in this context is environmental considerations and the theme of sustainability, which plastic is a huge challenge for the environment. Invest in a handful of high-quality, reusable bags for your trips to the grocery store, and that way you’ll always have something handy for trips to the beach or for picnics!
Buy A Waterbottle
Many of the things I’m listing here - especially the first three points - are addressing the over-consumption of single-use goods that find their way into the trash minutes after use. It’s extremely wasteful and inefficient for a product to be used for a few mere minutes and then sit in a landfill for thousands of years, so consider a one-off purchase of a nice waterbottle to make sure you’re not sending any plastic bottles to landfill.
We’ve talked about this point in a number of different contexts, but as we move further into the 21st century, business is increasingly becoming a paperless operation. For aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners alike, there’s a plethora of apps out there that take old-school, on-paper exercises and put them into a digital format; there’s the benefit of expedited delivery and a reduction of waste on offer. Consider paperless options in your office - and even personal life for financials etc - to reduce your consumption of paper and printer ink cartridges. On a side note, I’ve found that my staff members are more responsive to emails and even posts on a company Facebook page, so that’s what we’re sticking to at Best Practice to ensure we don’t stack up excessive amounts of paper that either don’t get utilised, or end up in the bin.