As the temperature of the globe and of climate conversations rises, so does pressure on governments to do something about it. We want to see change. We want to see action. Many of us, however, are not patient enough to see what governments will do, so we ask ourselves “what can I do about this?” That is what the Sustainability Team at Talent Plus is interested in, and what motivates us to come together to educate, inspire, and empower our colleagues to implement sustainable practices at home, at the office, and in the community.
We have a deep desire to leave the world better than we found it. Many of us are perfectionists, but as we strive to lead more sustainable lifestyles it is important to focus on progress over perfection. We want to meet people where they are so change feels realistic.
Our first efforts are often aimed at education. Change is inconvenient, so for people to be motivated to change they need to understand how it will help them and others. Different causes are more important to different people. Some may feel passionate about keeping their local parks and trails clean and litter-free. Others may have strong feelings about the harmful effects of herbicides and pesticides. Our goal on the Sustainability Team is to provide information on issues locally and globally to increase awareness.
The next step is highlighting actionable ideas for people to implement in their lives. Once people are aware of a problem, their emotions motivate them to do something, but that inspiration can be squandered when we don’t know what to do. Then it fizzles and we forget, and nothing changes. To harness that energy, we look for actions that our colleagues feel are realistic ways for them to make a difference. For instance, we have resources on gardening, homemade cleaners, and responsibly disposing of hazardous or hard-to-recycle materials.
In addition to educating our colleagues, we look for opportunities to make changes at the office. A couple years ago, we expanded the list of materials we recycle, added more recycling bins, and started composting food waste in our corporate kitchen. This summer, we committed to purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for 100% of the electricity we consume. Each Talent Plus colleague receives a branded, reusable tumbler with their name on it when they start, which has dramatically reduced bottled water consumption. We are also exploring some modifications to our property that favor renewable energy.
As the weather cools down and the fall foliage brightens our landscape, I’m personally loving life. In our home, it’s time for football, bike rides, hiking and camping, and we’re starting to cook cozy foods and wear our sweaters. As the seasons shift, it can be a ripe opportunity for us to introduce small changes into our lifestyles. With fall comes cooler temperatures, leaves, and a slew of holidays.
With these fall changes, what should we be thinking about in terms of sustainability? We know that over 80% of Halloween costumes are made from oil-based plastics. Shipping our online purchases can be fast or efficient, but rarely both. A lot of pumpkins end up in the landfill the first week of November. We discover leaks in our doors and windows as the cold air seeps through.
What to do about it? Do what’s manageable for you. Consider a DIY Halloween costume, buying second-hand, or swapping with friends. Compost your pumpkins (along with your kitchen food scraps while you’re at it). Start your holiday shopping early so you can select slower shipping times. Consider giving fewer material gifts. Spend an afternoon around the house with some weather stripping and caulk.
There are countless reasons to live a more sustainable lifestyle. What that looks like will be different for everybody. It can be helpful to learn from one another and draw inspiration from people you know who have made positive changes. Share your challenges and your successes. Help others. We are accountable for ourselves, but we are all in this together.