A few months ago the first Planet B Insights Community Survey launched and the results have been amazing. With almost 50 responses, the data collected will help Planet B Insights to drive the next wave of growth and social change. A full summary will be released in the coming weeks, but after preliminary analysis, there were two responses that were particularly interesting. These were:

  • On a personal level, do you feel empowered to contribute to solving these (social and environmental) challenges?
    • Almost 60 percent stated ‘yes’ they feel empowered.
  • Do you believe that your individual actions can make a difference?
    • 50 percent stated that their actions ‘somewhat’ make a difference.

The disconnection between individual action and impact is of great importance. When the impact of actions are not seen, it can feel exhausting and overwhelming.
However, when individuals feel empowered and believe that their actions have a strong impact, real change can occur. Just look at Greta Thunberg. She started by standing out of the front of Government house by herself to protest climate change. Now she is the face of a global movement that is bringing climate justice to the forefront of global news, business and politics. Her perseverance, passion and belief in climate justice drove her to continue even when she felt helpless. Now, we aren’t all Greta Thunberg, however our actions including consumption, employment, advocacy and community involvement can have a bigger impact than we may think.

Understanding your power

Everyday we engage with businesses, governments and individuals. Some interactions may be more overt than others. Where you shop, who you chat to and where you work are obvious spaces to make positive change. Our relationship with local, state and federal government can be more nuanced. Businesses, consumers and governments all need to work together but it seems the media is more focused on creating divisive and disempowering language. Instead of focusing on what is not happening, let’s look at ways to act and stay motivated stay motivated.

Business

In 2017, 100 companies were responsible for 71 percent of global emissions. This shows the wealth concentration and negative environmental impact of a small amount of fossil fuel companies.

The reality is businesses cannot operate without consumers. The notion that consumers focusing on not using plastic straws is diverting the blame from business is flawed. Every action has consequences and the growing acknowledgment from many businesses including the Hyatt, Adidas, Ikea, Kathmandu, Nestle and others shows that consumer pressure can change business practices.

Power Tips:

  • Fashion: Download the Good on You app for information about your favourite brands’ approach to labour, environment and animal treatment standards. They have one of the most comprehensive lists in the world and is great to check before you go out on a shopping day.
  • Lifestyle: There are a number of amazing online stores now that stock sustainable products including bamboo toiletries, reusable razors and alternatives to plastic. I recently bought a reusable razor on Eco&Basics which are an awesome Aussie brand.
  • Food: Don’t use Uber Eats! They use loads of plastic and Uber takes a massive monetary chunk (approx. 30 percent of the order) from the local restaurants.
    Also attend a local farmers markets instead of going to Coles and Woolworths. You can find a local market here.

Below is a great summary of some alternatives to the traditional plastic products offered by big businesses.

Government

The lack of action by the federal government to address the climate crisis is extremely disheartening. However, don’t forget your local government. Often, local governments have more opportunities to make an impact because they control local waste management, rates distribution, parks and green places as well as many other civic spaces. If every local government were to create a climate policy, the federal government would be pressured to act.

Power Tips:

  • Local government: Attend a council meeting and voice your demand that the council declares a climate emergency with supporting climate policy. Check out a recent Planet B Insights article about what declaring a climate emergency means here.
  • State government: Write a letter to your local state member asking them to clarify their position on climate and social policy. Organise a meeting with them and ask them to bring up climate policy in parliament.
  • Federal government: Attend strikes and voice your concern with organisations including Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace. These groups are creating an collective voice for individuals to stand up to federal government.

Individuals

A small group of Amazon employees are using their role to pressure Jeff Bezos and the leadership team to act on the climate crisis. It started off with an open letter to the leadership team asking them to commit to zero emissions by 2030. When their demand was not answered, they created a group called Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. One of the founders, Rebecca Sheppard said ‘Last year, I was feeling hopeless, unmotivated and frankly ashamed of the role I was playing at Amazon Air enabling carbon emissions. I have a beautiful three-year-old nephew, and I was afraid of what his world was going to look like in 50 years, given how much worse it had gotten in my 28 years. Then I heard about the shareholder resolution for Amazon to take climate action. In late 2018, a group of Amazon employees announced they would bring a resolution to the next shareholder meeting that would commit the company to develop a plan for transitioning off of fossil fuels. As employees, they had received equity in Amazon, so they had a right to submit a resolution as shareholders. This is the group that became Amazon Employees for Climate Justice (AECJ). When I heard about the resolution, I was inspired.’

They have been growing and spreading the message of the importance of Amazon to commit to climate action. To date, they have over 1000 Amazon employees committed to walking out for the global climate strike on September 20. Although the initial members may have felt they were only the minority, now they have grown and given a voice to others who were feeling helpless and wanted change.

In the workplace, at school or on your weekend hangouts, there is always space to ask the question ‘Does this align with my values? How can I have a positive impact?’

Power Tips:

  • In the office: Organise a morning tea to raise awareness for a charity related to climate change or cause of interest. By gathering a group of like minded people you can start a conversation about the vision you have for climate justice in the workplace and then start to empower others to have conversations. Conversations with managers and leaders about their stance on climate policy and how it is impacting governance, products and services is a good starting point.
  • With friends: Have an afternoon where instead of having a coffee, undertake an activity. It could be doing a beach cleanup or making beeswax wrappers. Another could be looking at the circular economy and starting a local compost system. Check out some ideas from a recent Planet B Insights article about the circular economy.
  • At School: Whether you attend school or have children in school, talking to parents and teachers about the curriculum, energy use and charitable activities can help. If the next generation are striking instead of going to school, then there is something wrong. Discussing ways to empower kids in school on Fridays through education and understanding of politics, climate change and media can have a lasting impact.
  • At home: Making conscious choices about what we buy all have an impact at home. If your spouse, kids or housemates see subtle changes it can spark a new conversation. Check out some of our plastic free living tips here.

4 ways to build your individual momentum

1. Take Time To Reflect

Taking 15 minutes over the weekend to grab a coffee (in a reusable cup of course!!) and reflect on the positive actions you took over the week can help build personal momentum. Some tips for using the 15 minutes include:

  • Write a list of the things you did and things you can do differently next week. Over time, these actions will grow and you will have proof of your impact.
  • Spend a few minutes thinking about the relationships you have and how you can make a positive impact. Whether it be a conversation with your boss about the company’s climate policy or a question to the local school principal about solar panels, there are ways to start a conversation.

2. Think Of The Multiplier Effect

When I was in Barcelona I did a beach clean up. By myself I probably picked up 1.5 kg of waste. However, collectively we picked up over 38kg. When I got back to my AirBnB I was talking to my host about it and showed her some photos. A few weeks later she messaged me and said that our conversation inspired her to start doing beach clean ups as well. Conversations when coupled with action can be more powerful than you think. If you tell 5 people of a sustainable practice you either do and have seen (but don’t brag!!) then it builds momentum.

It all adds up!

3. Act Anyway and Have a Laugh

When you’re feeling like the world is too big and your impact is too small, push through! Don’t let it all get too much and take some time to surround yourself with others and have a bit of a laugh. Maybe watch some Kath and Kim!

4. Be Kind To Yourself

If you get to the point where it all gets too much (don’t worry I get there on a regular basis), remember that sustainable living is about progress not perfection. If you get cornered into using a plastic straw, don’t beat yourself up but think about ways to avoid them next time. Acknowledge it and move on!
Also surround yourself with inspiring and honest individuals. Check out one of the most inspiring interviews I did in 2019 here.

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Since I started this blog I have had so many people share with me their frustrations, challenges and failures about trying to live a sustainable lifestyle. As we are right in the middle of plastic free July, I felt it was time to remind all you wonderful people out there that every little step you take has an impact. If we measure our worth and impact only by perfect standards, then it will all become too much and we will burn out. Trust me, I’ve been there. But if we take each day as an opportunity to do our best with what we have, learn from our experiences and have open conversations about our lifestyles, then we are closer to perfection than we may think. 💚 Like and share to spread the word about being kind to yourself today! #plasticfreejuly #plasticfree #sustainability #sustainableliving #burnout #bekind #planetbinsights #zerowaste #empowerment #empoweringothers #climateaction #extinctionrebellion #climatechange #bethechange #takeabreather #revolution #change

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Overall

Don’t underestimate the power of your actions. There are so many things we can do that can have a positive change. Let us know any tips you have to make change.

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