“I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” – Greta Thunberg, World Economic Forum, 2019
The planet is in serious crisis. We are consuming our resources faster than they can replenish. We have successfully managed to wipe out forests, punch holes in the ozone layer and create some of the most toxic materials that have proved hazardous even to us. We have managed to pollute our air, water and our environment in totality, making it unsafe and unfit to live in – for the current and future generations. While we wait for governments and policies to save the world, the planet is dying a slow, agonising death.
The truth is – there is no Superman. No ‘other person’ to rescue us. This is our problem – yours and mine. So does it not stand to reason that the solution may just begin with us, the individuals who inhabit this planet? As working professionals with no extra time, burgeoning workloads and a hundred distractions, how can we survive the work day and still make a contribution towards helping the planet? Here are a few simple and super doable steps that you could practise in your office life and be the change you know you can be:
- Travel sustainably – The government has taken pains to improve the public transport system for its citizens. How about utilizing that? A metro or a bus to work may not be that bad and would help save on fuel and money. If it is imperative that you drive to work, set up a carpooling system with other colleagues who live around you. And if you live close to the office, there’s nothing like walking or cycling to work! CEO’s overseas are doing it!
- Change your printing habits – In this digital age, ask yourself, “Do I really need this printout?” The answer will come to you. Avoid printing as far as possible, and if you absolutely must, use the double-sided printing option to reduce the sheets of paper. You could also use the blank side of waste paper that has already been printed on one side. To add to that, share your printed copies with colleagues so that it minimizes their need to print too at the workplace.
- Turn it off – When not using the computer, laptop and other electronic gadgets, turn them off instead of keeping them on standby mode because it still consumes energy. This applies to lights, fans and air conditioners as well. A habit inculcated in us as children at home and easiest to apply at office.
- Carry your lunch in reusable containers – If you carry lunch in a use and throw packet or order in, which inevitably comes wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam packaging, imagine the pile of garbage you are contributing to. Instead, pack your lunch in a box that can be used and reused repeatedly. That aluminium foil you use for your chapatis or sandwiches can also be used several times before it is time to bin it.
- Keep a recycle bin – Talk to HR and help your office turn sustainable by keeping a recycle bin (if there isn’t one already) and encourage your colleagues to use it. You will be surprised to see the amount of waste (which we usually discard) that can be recycled with a little effort. Additionally, a waste segregation system could be put into place that would take care of waste management.
- Change the way you drink – Replace those Styrofoam and plastic cups with ceramic and glass. Our landfills are already bursting with plastic water bottles and cups. Envisage the difference this small step could make. And anyway, it is far better and more personal to drink your coffee from your very own pretty mug.
Small mindful steps, easy to implement and the world of difference they make! If you lead by example, it is not surprising that your colleagues will follow. The power of one is infinite. Just like the planet’s capacity to heal with a little help from you.