The sustainability ripple effect

Sarah Hammond gives a first-hand account of why starting somewhere is better than nowhere when it comes to sustainability.

The sustainability ripple effect

Sarah Hammond gives a first-hand account of why starting somewhere is better than nowhere when it comes to sustainability.

The-Sustainability-Ripple-Effect

Meet the author

Sarah Hammond

Senior Consultant

Changing how we live has two key drivers; our individual behaviours and the systems that surround us. There is much debate about the role that each plays within the world of sustainability. Should the onus be on individuals travelling to the refill shop? Or is it on organisations to change the products they offer? The answer is that both are just as important, and just as needed, as they are inherently linked. As individuals change the way they engage with the world, such as buying products, this creates market demand which drives organisations to change their offerings. Conversely, as organisations change their products this increases access for individuals to choose the more sustainable option.

If we focus on the role of individual behaviour change it is fair to say it’s not easy. It is human nature to make the choice that’s comfortable – which is often the one we have the most experience with. However, there is a huge change needed in human behaviour as we face a climate disaster, to alter how we behave to sustain the beautiful world we live in. So, how do we change how we behave when it just seems so vast? The answer – you do something, instead of nothing.

Your actions

Pretty soon after committing myself to change the way I lived I felt disheartened. It felt like everywhere there was a tough decision because of the systems we have in place that favour convenience over ethics.  If you allow this feeling to fester it can lead you to ask ‘what’s the point?’, to ignore the knowledge you have and carry on as usual. We need to avoid this, and understand that every single one of our small actions is making a larger impact. How? In two key ways. Firstly, the stories you tell. By making these small changes you make them part of your every day. They become part of your narrative, and this means you’re able to tell others about them, increasing the normalcy of these new behaviours, which acts as a less intrusive form of education for others. Secondly, you’re changing to a new normal that you will be able to sustain, allowing space for additional changes. 

Your conversations

This topic can be incredibly scary, and cause individuals to shy away from the topic entirely. This means how we discuss sustainability is crucial and powerful. Sustainability is exciting and should be spoken about as such. We have a wealth of technology, understanding and science to change the way we live. We are being given a number of problems that need to be solved. We have the chance to work together to be better. In a time where individuals are increasingly aware of their need for purpose, this opportunity is huge; to provide a happy and healthy world to the next generation. When you start to speak about it as something like this, it becomes something pretty special. Something uniting. This is how sustainability should be spoken about.

So, what does the sustainability ripple effect mean?

‘Ripple effect’ is defined by Cambridge Dictionary as “a situation in which one event produces effects which spread and produce further effects.”1

My dad rang me up not long ago to say he’d sewed a new pocket into a pair of jeans, instead of replacing them, following a family dinner conversation. 

If as individuals we can make this impact, think of the power organisations have to influence how their employees engage with the world, both during working hours and beyond. Are you a leader looking to inspire change? Does this change just seem too vast? Come and talk to us, let’s break it down, and let’s make it manageable and scalable. 

To find out how our sustainability consulting can help you, get in touch.

References

  1. Cambridge Dictionary, 2022, ripple effect, Available at: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/ripple-effect

Want more? 

READ: Why becoming more sustainable is essential to your CX
LISTEN: What is circularity and a circular economy? – PODCAST
WATCH: Tackling Scope 3: Identify, measure and reduce your travel emissions – WEBINAR

You might also like