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Sustainability is our personal responsibility

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." Dr Seuss

The Lorax, the fictional character of Dr Seuss, is crying out for personal responsibility. And is that not what climate change is all about? It is easier perhaps to turn a blind eye, to ignore the facts, that climate change is happening. We are, it seems, walking blindly into disaster. There is a whole lot of change needed and it can feel overwhelming.

What can I do? What difference do I make?

The answer is; actually, you can do a lot.

Hacking into behaviour change

I work as an Associate of Ecoed Life. It is a small start-up, and an exciting one at that. The principle of the collective ripple effect, that seemingly small actions multiplied by many can be a game changer and make a much bigger, systems shift possible, guides everything that we do. We use gaming to “hack” into the daily behaviours of people anywhere in the world – in families, communities, organisations and schools. When I travel into London I often see people stuck in their telephones, playing games. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they instead learned and were inspired to act and change their daily habits for a more environmentally sustainable world?

In our daily lives and workplaces, it is easy to carry on as usual, and to forget to challenge yourself and your colleagues on the daily habits and behaviours. The Ecoed game app, which recently secured a Social Impact Award through our collaborators Ojo Solutions, does just that – and as don’t want to continue just to beat the drum of Ecoed game app and the Ecoed approach, I also want to share with you how I believe individuals and employees in any organisation can be inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals and make changes in their immediate surroundings.

Sustainable Development Goals – for people

The Global Goals are great as a framework for setting strategy for an organisation, and it is my view that they can also be used for inspiration on an individual level. Consider the 17 Global Goals from a personal point of view and how these can inspire to change and be a guiding light in your daily life – at work and at home.

  1. Think about your daily choices as a responsible consumer. Anna Lappé, the well know educator and author, said:Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want. Buy responsibly – think Fairtrade.
  2. Waste less food. In the UK, we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. And how often do you go to business meetings and events where there is food left-over? Be innovative (goal 9!) and find new ways of dealing with this.
  3. Take the stairs, walk to the train station, get off the bus a stop early – the possibilities for doing more exercise in your daily routine are endless. Bring your colleagues along – where is your nearest green space?
  4. Raise awareness. Be courageous and talk about climate change and do it outside of the eco-chambers of sustainability professional gatherings and events.
  5. Treat others the way that you want to be treated. Be fair and be equal. The fabulous work of the Let toys be toyscampaign, reminds us that we should do this from an early age.
  6. Save water. And drink from the tap, there is (often) no need for bottled water.
  7. Make the switch to green energy. Do a little bit of research and both your home and your office can be running on green energy. Did you know that UK is the windiest country in Europe?
  8. Operate your business and your home in the environmentally safe and socially just space of the doughnut. Check out Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics.
  9. Be innovative. How can you find new ways of dealing with old problems?
  10. Donate to a worthy cause, volunteer for something your care about and believe in, raise money for charity – or raise environmental action for charity with the DoNation!
  11. Be kind and welcoming towards people.
  12. Consume less and buy with a conscience.
  13. Walk and cycle more. Eat more fruit and veg. The greenest kilowatt-hour, is the one you never use.
  14. Ditch the straw, get your own reusable coffee cup – in short, make your best to refuse single-use plastics. And, only consume sustainably sourced fish and seafood.
  15. Spend time outdoors. And in every decision, consider the more-than-human life on our planet. I am borrowing another quote from Dr Seuss; I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues.
  16. Sign petitions, to make a difference, or of there is no live petition that speaks for your action, start one.
  17. Work together and remember that, although our individual actions may seem small to us, the collective effect of all of us combined, can be a game changer and make a system shift for a more sustainable and responsible world possible.

Climate change needs behaviour change

To turn the tides on climate change, to reach the commitments of the Paris Agreement, we need governments to step up and we need businesses to start acting responsibly and not to only consider short-term financial gains. Without the planet we cannot do any business at all. Sometimes it seems that we forget this.

We also need behavioural change. At the end of the day, what it comes down to, is the behaviours of you and me, to make the changes that are in our power to make. Climate change needs behaviour change. If you are involved in work which successfully inspires and enables people to change the way they consume, the way they cook, eat, dispose of waste, purchase goods, travel, etc. you can participate in a global contest, aiming to spotlight the best on-the-ground approaches to changing behaviours in order to foster sustainable systems and tackle climate change. Have a look here.

Because, you want a better world and so do I. It is within our arm’s reach.

Thank you to Futerra which provided inspiration for this blog with their Sustainable Lifestyle Goals.



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