What is on your list of resolutions this year? For many of us, it will be making a switch to a more sustainable future. Here’s how you can do it.
The UN stated in 2019 that we have eleven years to prevent catastrophic climate change. We’re now more than three years into that deadline.
With governments around the world seemingly unwilling or unable to act with the urgency required, it is incumbent on us all to make the changes that we can to achieve net zero and a more sustainable world.
Our energy supply is a major contributor to our carbon footprint for most of us. On a personal level, if you can afford it, make 2022 the year you invest in renewable technologies. Could you add solar panels to your roof? If you’re in a rural location, could you add a domestic wind turbine? Or a ground-source heat pump?
If it isn’t practical for you to install a system yourself – if you live in an apartment block, for example – can you help to get a community scheme off the ground? At the very least, switch to a supplier that is committed to sourcing from and investing in renewable sources.
Office and Estates managers should go through a similar thought process for your office energy supplies. Many office buildings could be self-sufficient simply by adding a small-scale wind turbine. If the switch you want to see isn’t happening at your place of work, can you raise the topic with management to increase the pressure on them to act?
Remember the maxim of reduce, reuse, recycle can apply when it comes to energy too. If you haven’t already, switch to LED bulbs. Think about what can you switch off and when. For example, could smart sensors help you to reduce consumption by automatically switching off heating and lighting when there is no one in the room?
Travel is another big emitter. It’s accountable for eight percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the amount of travel you undertake is the first step.
The work from home arrangements of the past two years have certainly assisted in our ability to reduce our carbon footprint from travel. We need to ensure that this behaviour is embedded in working practices moving forwards.
Instead of big events to meet in person, companies can be equally effective having virtual and online events. Best practice suggests you combine live presentations with opportunities for feedback, questions and networking. Then follow-up with high-quality printed materials posted out to attendees, so that they have a tangible souvenir of their participation.
Our consumption of resources is an important factor when considering switching to a more sustainable lifestyle. The maxim of reduce, reuse, recycle holds strongest here.
If you can’t reduce or reuse, then be sure to buy ethically and locally.
On a personal level, this means avoiding fast fashion and food stuffs that have been flown halfway around the world. Instead, embrace the joys of local farmers markets and second-hand and thrift-store shopping.
On a corporate basis, this means redesigning your purchasing rules to prioritise your sustainability objectives – and putting pressure on your partners and supply chain to do the same.
Simple swaps can make a big difference – from choosing to offer staff filtered tap water rather than plastic bottles to opting for sustainable stationary supplies.
Generally, ditch the plastic for paper. And look for ways to reduce your computing overhead – a policy of defensible deletion isn’t only good from a data protection point of view; it can also save you money and reduce your energy consumption – especially if that data is stored in the cloud.
However small these changes seem, the power of incremental change when multiplied by millions of small changes can be significant. We must take what action we can.
Perhaps the most impactful action we can take, however, is to continually emphasise the need – and our desire – for action to our policy and political leaders. This way, we can also help to drive the systemic change that the world needs.