How to help people make sustainable lifestyle choices? This is a permanent question for me and I have heard several compelling arguments in answer. The fact is there is no one way to get people to adopt a sustainable life or to continually make sustainable choices. These choices often require you to put the planet’s health ahead of your convenience — a difficult choice indeed as most of us tend to take the easiest and most self-efficient way out.
I fondly recall listening to Bill Clinton at one of the Sustainability Conferences in Chicago talking about the influence children have on the overall sustainability pulse of a family. The point he was making was that teaching environmental sensibility at a school level causes a change in the entire family, as kids go back to their houses with their ‘eco-discipline’, they inspire their parents to also make a change. Another approach that is widely used in large corporations with well-established human resource groups is to put all employees through a sustainability training program that helps make ‘eco-sensitive’ decision making second nature within the office premises and beyond.
What does it mean to call oneself a sustainable corporation? What are the primary benefits of becoming a more sustainable company? Although each company has their reasons and motives for being more green and sustainable some benefits are widely associated with adopting an eco-conscious outlook in business — such as better branding, increased productivity with reduced costs, improved energy efficiency/resource management and lastly increased employee retention and recruitment.
People want to associate with companies that are ‘doing the right thing’ and are engaged in corporate social responsibility programs. Engaging office-wide on energy-saving ideas and environmental passions, companies can save resources, energy and money as well as boost their eco-friendly reputation.
Across the world today, the word “conscious consumer” is one more and more people are identifying with. A conscious consumer is one who is more likely to buy from companies that manufacture energy-efficient products, promote health and safety benefits, support fair labour and trade practices and commit to environmentally-friendly practices — all provided the products on offer are of equal quality and price.
The key to all of us living sustainable lives is to help as many people as possible to convert into conscious consumers. This happens by them learning why sustainability matters in their lives — for example, unless it’s slowed, climate change could sink your city and increase natural disasters in our lifetimes. If people realise this, then they’ll find ways to save resources at work — as well as at home.
While there isn’t a single solution for a company to educate its employees, it is found that a grass-root approach could be very effective. Green teams, promoting eco-friendly challenges and teaching colleagues sustainable alternatives are a great way to kick start any eco initiative — like banning disposable utensils or going plastic-free for a week.
Is sustainability truly a desired corporate objective that contributes to your company’s strategy? Does it positively affect employees, customers, partners and the surrounding community? If yes, then it is time to consider training and inspiring people that work with you to be conscious consumers — the agents of change for the future of our planet.