Create a Culture of Sustainability: Start Small

Do you want your business to be more sustainable, but aren’t sure where to start?

You’re not the only one. In truth, there will be plenty of tangible, strategic actions for your business which could reduce your environmental impact and/or improve your social impact without negatively affecting your financial growth.

These actions can appear challenging, inaccessible or simply overwhelming for many organizations or individuals – in which case, it’s better to start off small.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi.

A quote we’ve all heard before, but incredibly relevant when it comes to sustainability. Change often starts from within, and that’s no different for businesses or organisations.

Reflect on the day-to-day of your work life:

Do you stroll into the office with a flat white sitting in a disposable coffee cup, or do you wait and make a cafetière with a mug that lives on your desk (unless it’s in the dishwasher, hopefully)?

Are your waste streams well sorted, or does someone’s leftover curry usually end up sitting amid recyclable paper and cardboard?

Do your bathroom lights shut off when the room isn’t being used, or are the constantly running?

These are such small processes in the daily running of an office, but they can make a huge difference to sustainable performance in the grand scheme. It’s not unusual to see disposable coffee cups sitting in a contaminated waste bin, and lights permanently left on. I would love to know how much wasted energy and materials could be saved if my office building changed these simple processes.

We often fail at these simple sustainable actions because:

  1. They are not seen as important, or influential.
  2. Nobody takes ownership of these small changes in behaviour.
  3. They are perceived as pointless, when your efforts to be more sustainable could be let down by the indifference of others.

Essentially, sustainability has not made its way into office culture yet.

I find this interesting, because the passive actions of sorting waste correctly or switching off from single-use coffee runs does not require much effort. Many offices have not adopted these passive actions and instead try to offset their environmental impacts in the form of ‘sustainability days,’ which can be far more time and energy-consuming, whether they involve litter picking, vegetarian buffets or evening events outside of work time.

The collective actions of individuals can have a far greater impact than one singular action, and creating a culture designed to reduce environmental impacts in small ways is probably far more sustainable for your business too.

So if you’re a business or organization that can’t see the first steps towards sustainable success: don’t look out, look within.

Create a sustainable business culture.

Published by Rosie Dodd

Sustainability Consultant | Sphera Ltd.

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