It that time of the year unfortunately, the festive season is over, winter is in full swing, at least if you are in the northern hemisphere and finances are generally low (at least until February!). However now is the time to set some environmental new year’s resolutions. In this post I’ve come up with a few ideas for environmental professionals. Some will be relevant to you, some not but at least it is a starting point, why not write your own list, but hopefully this will give you some ideas.
- Pick one impact that your organisation has on the environment, even something small and reduce this impact and tell people about it.
Don’t get too hung up on the size of the impact, but do make sure that you communicate the success to all employees. You will be surprised how just one initiative can lead to others – from small acorns mighty oaks grow! It could be something as simple as making sure that lighting or computer monitors are switched off or reducing the amount of plastic usage in the staff canteen. It is vital that you monitor the success and communicate the results to people in ways such as noticeboards, meetings, intranet etc.
- Choose an environmental topic that you know very little about and research it until you know more.
Being a professional trainer, I have come to realise that knowledge definitely does mean power! If we do not know a great deal about a topic then how can we make any changes? What you will choose will depend on your own strength and weakness. So it could be anything from climate change, plastic pollution, environmental management systems etc.
- Make changes to your lifestyle that reduces your own impact on the environment.
We are often telling other people to reduce or control their environmental impact at work, or maybe even friends or family. But could you do more? Take a look at your lifestyle and ask yourself if there any changes you could make to ensure that it is more sustainable. This will vary but consider issues such as transport – do I need to take the car when it is only a few minutes to walk, energy – switch off those lights, computers etc or purchasing decisions – could you buy items with less packaging. There are many easy things that can be done to make your life more sustainable.
- Learn about social and economic issues and how they interact with environmental ones (sustainable development)
Another learning resolution I’m afraid (well I am a professional trainer). One gap I have found over the years in environmental practitioners is that they have very strong knowledge of issues such as water pollution, climate change, resource usage but struggle a little with the general high-level concept of sustainable development. Learning about how decisions in organisations have a social, environmental, and economic impact gives a much more accurate picture of an activity. There are many sustainable development models you could consider – maybe start with the five capitals or sustainable development goals (see the references below for relevant links).
And finally (I hear a drum roll from somewhere!!)
- Get yourself trained up!
Now is the time to get yourself educated! People constantly put off enrolling on degrees, masters, diplomas or certificate level or other more bespoke courses. Getting a qualification that is relevant and useful to what you do at work has many benefits – working in a field that you want, higher salary, more prospects for promotion and generally just knowing that you have achieved a recognised standard. I have been a student on many courses and I do not regret it one bit. It always pays back eventually, sometimes quicker than you think, look at it – how could an extra qualification not be beneficial?
Hopefully that gives you some idea of what resolutions you could make for yourself. Why not now try to make you own list. In the spirit of plan-do-check-act however make sure that you frequently evaluate your performance with your resolutions over the year and ensure that you complete by January next year. I will be checking!!!
John Binns BSc (Hons), MSc, MSc, MIEMA
With over 19 years’ experience working in environment management, John Binns BSc (Hons) MSc MIEMA is an experienced environmental tutor and consultant with knowledge of health and safety management.