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It's pretty common in the sustainability movement to feel small. To feel like we are only one person. But there are areas in our lives that carry a bit more weight when we choose to act on them, and one of those areas is where we work.
The private sector, from small businesses to large corporations, is responsible for a large amount of environmental impact. Which makes sense right? Because everything we are able to buy, eat, and wear comes from a business.
A business is like a human in the sense that there will always be a footprint associated with them. But this doesn’t mean we can’t work to minimize that footprint and become more in tune with nature.
So where do we (you) come in and why is there extra weight associated with inspiring changes in the workplace?
Picture that you are a part of a group or a team and everyone works well together for the most part. Everyone has the team’s interest in mind. Now imagine another group or individual comes up and says your team needs to change and they are doing things all wrong.
How receptive would you and your team be to that?
Now let’s compare that to someone in your group or team or...business (see where I’m going here?) presenting a better way to do something which will benefit both the company, the planet, and community around you.
Just by association we will of course be more receptive, simply because we know the person. But maybe also because we know that person has the company in mind more so than a stranger telling us what to do.
You can be that person.
Real, long lasting change always starts from the ground up. And in a business, if the goal is to make sustainable long term changes, it must come from the inside out. AKA, from a concerned employee who cares both about the state of the world and the state of their employer.
Since many of us are in specialized fields, it will be easier to affect change from the area which we are familiar with and can better understand. But, this doesn’t mean we can’t venture into other areas. Because a lot of times, when we begin to understand the ins and outs of a business, we can affect change from anywhere within it.
Start with what you know and venture elsewhere if you feel comfortable.
Doing something in three steps when we could do them in one or two: this is a great example of an inefficiency. And businesses rely on employees to point these sorts of things out.
Oftentimes too, while this saves energy, time, and money for the company, it can also save resources, emissions, energy demand, and so forth for the planet. Look for unnecessary steps, waste, and things that can be simplified.
Sponsorships and community projects
Part of being a good business is giving back to its community. This is a great opportunity to get involved on behalf of the business you’re a part of. Host or sponsor events, a fundraiser, plant a garden or some trees! The possibilities are endless.
Other parts of a product company to look into could be:
Literal investment may be more prevalent in the financial sector, but the idea of investment could be applied to time, partnerships, and so on. If one works in a bank or manages portfolios, where the company chooses to invest their money has massive impacts.
This has a huge impact both from defunding industries that are not sustainability driven, and also by sending a message that this is where the world is headed.
Emphasize how the company will benefit. This could be things like:
While these changes may actually benefit the business you’re a part of, your employer probably isn’t prepared to make these changes or implement these new ideas. If they are, that means they beat you to the idea, which of course is great!
Be ready to do the work
Because of this, you must be prepared to help implement the changes or new ideas that you are coming up with. Who knows, maybe the only reason they haven’t done these things already is because they haven’t had anyone to take the initiative. But now they do!
Have a plan
And since you’ll be taking the initiative, you’ll also be needing a plan. So make sure you have one in place before you bring these things to your employer.
Be informed or recruit others
When implementing changes, we should stick to areas that we know and are informed about. Otherwise, consider bringing some other people into your new endeavors.
And just like that, your company has a green team!
No matter the scope of the project or the exact thing you are proposing to change, a company will always be more receptive to those who have their business’ interest in mind.
Provide examples of how your employer will benefit as well as what this means to you, their employee. Every employee’s opinion should be valued, no matter the endeavor they are proposing. And you are no exception to that.