Learn, teach, evolve.
The path to sustainability begins with knowledge.
Businesses across the world are taking action to educate their employees and the public about the importance of embracing sustainable practices and policies. In 2017, many organizations voiced their commitment to sustainability by making meaningful changes such as implementing strict recycling and composting programs, encouraging sustainable transportation options to their employees, teaching the importance of reforestation, or utilizing energy efficient and/or sustainable products throughout their facility.
Embracing a Change in Practice
Too often leaders in industry and C-Suite executives do not embrace change in practices because they do not properly understand the science and language of sustainability, which can stall momentum. A shocking 80% of the population is afraid to speak about topics that they do not possess knowledge about. Recent research shows that 83% of the population are familiar with the term “sustainability,” but 44% still cannot tell which products are sustainable. It is important for stakeholders to have the willingness to learn, and in-turn, help others learn. Be the one to take the lead.
Without someone stepping forward as the “leader” or “teacher,” programs like these will never be successful. Leaders of sustainability initiatives can be at any level of an organization: board members, CEOs, facility managers, marketing managers, and maintenance staff, but—ideally – a sustainability program should start from the top down. If stakeholders within an organization do not possess the knowledge to successfully implement sustainable practices, embracing partnerships with seasoned strategic partners that are established as leaders in the world of sustainability can be a powerful asset. Utilize these partnerships to elevate the technical aspects of sustainable practices, materials and solutions to your management and staff.
Why it’s Imperative for Decision Makers to Participate
Baby Boomers, like myself, remember a different world. We remember a time when some of today’s most critical environmental issues were not as “critical” as they are now. Do we want to be remembered as the generation who clearly saw what was coming, but didn’t do anything about it? DO NOT FEAR the unknown—seek out the solutions from your partners who specialize in environmental practices.
Before taking steps, we as people need to know both why an action is important and how to go about it. Employees may be hesitant to do something that’s unfamiliar, so if they look to those they respect as leaders, and they are doing or endorsing sustainable behaviors, they are more likely to follow suit and adapt the same practices at home.
Participation can just mean receiving information, but people often want the opportunity to contribute ideas as well. Employees want to be involved in issues that concern us and our everyday lives. Keep things simple, practical and fun. For example, provide signage over your recycling and composting stations highlighting which products go where. Hearing a positive message multiple times, in multiple ways, is also essential for information to sink in. Hold meetings or events to communicate and explain your initiatives throughout the entire implementation process.
Sustainability is critical to ensuring the safety of our planet and our health in the years to come. By making these changes now, and building out on them over time, we will create a better tomorrow for future generations.