-CISL Personal Sustainability Challenge-
For a Sustainability Leader it is not enough to demonstrate Leadership skills during working hours. They also need to transmit values through their personal lifestyle 24/7.
If a Sustainability Leader delivers a talk about plastic pollution and immediately afterwards puts a plastic cup to the regular bin, it’s over. Nobody will take them seriously anymore. Sure, there are always exceptions, and some flexibility is needed, but integrity is a must.
If I want to influence other people, the first think I need to do is to demonstrate that I am able to walk the walk.
In the last few years I have been focusing on several elements:
- Profession: Because work is the activity I spend most of my time and energy doing, it is a must for me to dedicate myself to a profession that has a significant social and environmental impact. I have already left a good job in a multinational company in order to move to the UK and become an expert in Global Sustainability. This was a very hard decision at an emotional level and has also had practical consequences, but I’m convinced that I’m on the right track. Now the big challenge is to identify the professional activity in which I feel I can make the maximum impact.
- My particular contribution: One of my dreams is to buy some land and plant trees, thus contributing to climate change mitigation by capturing CO2 from the atmosphere. I’m saving up to be able to buy the land, but in the meantime I need to choose the right location, acquire key skills and (even more challenging) overcome some fears I have about the long-term financial obligations (irrigation system, maintenance, taxes, etc.). My fears are not about buying the land but about being able to cope with future expenses, especially if the price of water or the tax rates increase in the future as these are factors out of my control.
- Personal lifestyle: I recycle as much as possible, minimize the use of a private car (in fact I recently sold mine, an economically painful but necessary decision), grow my own vegetables at home, substitute plastic items for bamboo items (toothbrush, hairbrush, water bottle, rack for drying dishes), and so on.
- Housing: Learning about how to build a sustainable house including renewable energy, water reuse, reuse of materials, use of sustainable new materials, guarantee energy efficiency, and so on. The knowledge is there now. It just needs to be acted on.
- Communicating: Another idea I have had in mind for a long time is to communicate through short videos some key tips or inspiring messages in order to encourage other people to enjoy a fulfilling sustainable lifestyle (at both a personal and professional level). I love communicating and interviewing experts, so I’m thinking of doing some very short interviews which get straight to the point. I’ve just started experimenting with an Instagram account (@sustainabilityangel) where I share some ideas and thoughts with photos, a short text, or a 1-minute video. It’s fairly amateurish at the moment, but it’s a start, and I’ll refine it soon.
I’ll leave my other thoughts for the next post. I hope you found this just a little bit inspiring.
Looking forward to knowing your thoughts!
One thought on “The first step to becoming a Sustainability Leader”
Seems like you are reading my thoughts that I had the other day while drinking my take-away coffee and putting the non-recyclable cup in the bin afterwards. It was a soja-milk cappuccino (so at least a tiny reduction of cow milk demand was achieved :), although… I am not quite sure that the soy was certified…). These things happen, because one forgets to wash the reusable cup and falls into the old habits. Therefore, your list of possible personal leadership challenges is very inspiring and makes one think about all those habits and routines, where sustainability is not yet rooted. On the other hand, I sometimes feel that there is so much pressure on a sustainability professional, because yes, everyone expects him or her to be sustainable 24/7, but is it so quickly achievable? It takes at least 21 days to learn 1 single new habit, it takes even longer to internalise it forever. Hence, I think that a good approach is to start with one of those wonderful challenges, master it and then move to another one, just so that you do not pressure yourself too much. In this context, your Instagram account looks like a very motivational thing to do – it influences others, conveyes more than just entertaining photos and also inspires you to generate more sustainable content. Looking forward to hear about your experiences with this account or any other challenges and I am especially interested what is your followers’ response?
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