We need Sustainability at Scale (but watch out for the little stuff)
Given the average rating of my online Green Jujitsu Employee Engagement course is roughly 4.4 out of 5 after more than 7000 students, I don’t often get negative reviews, so I shouldn’t really take umbrage when someone slates me. But I recently got criticism for mentioning using paper and marker pens, which has been bothering me.
I’m not so much concerned that someone thinks I could be greener in the way I operate – guilty as charged – rather it’s the obsession over minor details. If we could solve the climate and biodiversity crises simply by eliminating the use of marker pens, then I’d be delighted to lead the campaign against Sharpies. But show me the organisation where marker pens represent more than 1% of their ecological footprint…
For too long we’ve been obsessing over minor tweaks when we need to focus our attention on the huge step changes we need: eliminating the use of fossil fuels, creating a circular economy and transforming the way we eat.
However, my critic has inadvertently illustrated one important point. While the big changes are essential and must be prioritised, it is often the little stuff that people latch on to. So while you might be negotiating the purchase of 100% clean energy from a local sustainable source, if you have disposable plastic tea stirrers in your canteen then a lot of people will refuse to take you seriously as green.
The problem is there will be 100s or even 1000s such minor tweaks that could be made which will absorb all your time and energy for relatively little environmental benefit. I’ve long suggested that this is where you can delegate action to ‘green champions’ and free up your time to deliver those step changes.