In the current environment, it takes a brave person to say this, but that is exactly what Bill Gates did over the weekend, read more here.
Over the past few years, I have found myself becoming more and more passionate about the environment, but like most people am stuck in a conundrum, I want to be part of the change but I still want to enjoy the luxuries I have become used to, such as flying on holiday. So, the question is, how can we all change and how can I be a part of that, whilst still enjoying some of the nicer parts of modern life.
As individuals, we can all help with small steps to start, recycling our waste, driving hybrid or electric cars, reducing the journeys we take, perhaps having one less holiday abroad if we can afford them and looking at having time in our own country instead. Perhaps not travelling into an office every day but working from home, all these changes will help. But we still need to do more.
In his article Bill Gates points out it is not just the travel and energy production we have to change but the decarbonisation of the economy as a whole, especially in the production of elements we use in day to day, life including steel, cement, transport systems, fertiliser production and much, much more. It is these elements that account for around 70% of our carbon footprint and the only way I think we can make this change is for all elements in society to work together.
Yes, we need governments to legislate, but we also need consumers to demand more from business and not just cheaper products. We need consumers to demand genuinely environmentally friendly products and services. If a business cannot demonstrate they are sustainable and working towards a zero carbon footprint then don’t buy from them. Consumers have the real power, if we are not buying products, the company making it will not have a market and will stop manufacturing, it is that simple. Imagine if we all stopped buying Coke in plastic bottles because they were not recyclable, Coca Cola would soon stop selling its drinks in them. As it happens, Coca Cola have just announced they are trialling paper bottles which is a great step forward.
As businesses, we should not wait for consumers to demand change, but should be looking at taking the lead and showing that we are working towards sustainable, zero carbon companies and don’t be afraid to use this message in your marketing. Companies that take this approach will be the successful ones over the next few years and those that don’t will be found out. Be proud of the working your are doing to become sustainable and socially responsible, tell people about it, you will surprised about how beneficial it will be.
Going back to Bill Gates’ comment, at the moment we all have a massive challenge to get Covid-19 under control and we would be forgiven if we focused on that and not the environment at the moment, but the sad thing is he is right. The challenge to reverse the damage we have done to the environment is not just a bigger one that getting Covid-19 under control, if we don’t it will have a greater impact on society including the number of people whose lives will be at risk.
Covid-19 has forced us to change and some of the changes can now be applied to how we look to reduce the environmental impact of our lives. In business, many of us have become used to working remotely, having meetings on-line and reducing the journeys we take and we need to continue this as we move forward. There will always be some occasions where we have to meet face to face but what we need to do is consider each meeting and only makes those journeys where they are essential. As individuals, think about our choices, ask the question do I need to take that extra flight or can I do something else? Can I recycle a bit more, can I reduce my energy usage?
If consumers, businesses and government start working together and stop working against each other I believe we can do what is needed, we can turn the environment round, we can give our children the experiences we had. If we don’t then we will be leaving the worst legacy we could for generations to come and I for one, don’t want my children and grand children to be saying we were the generation that failed them. To find out more about how to make your organisation sustainable and socially responsible read more here.