Sustainability Priorities: Big Issues vs Quick Wins
I had an interesting conversation with a client today about the relative importance of big issues and quick wins. Almost every management or reporting system requires you to look for the most significant Sustainability issues and address them. And rightly so, we won’t get to Sustainability by tinkering around the edges – we need to address the elephant in the room.
But image this conversation:
Why do we provide single use plastic stirrers in the café?
Because we’ve been focussing our attention on reformulating our product to eliminate brominated flame retardants.
What’s a brominated flame retardant?
It’s a persistent organic pollutant which bioaccumulates in ecosystems and harms wildlife.
So it’s OK if that wildlife chokes on one of our plastic stirrers?”
People can get their head around the need to phase out single use non-recyclable plastic. They’ve seen the seahorse-with-cotton-bud picture and it resonates with them. Bioaccumulation of POPs is almost certainly a more serious issue but it is complicated and remote. You’re never going to get the same emotional connection.
Doing the right thing means tackling the big issues. Being seen to do the right thing is usually about delivering quick wins.