Changing the behaviour of over seven billion people on Earth is never going to be easy. When it comes to sustainability, though, it’s definitely worth a shot, says Mark Gilligan, director at Wizso.
With any cultural changes, we often look to business leaders around the world to make the first moves, trial new concepts and pave the way for the smaller players in the game. The sustainability shift seen by this generation is no different.
Individuals can make small changes which will have a big impact, but businesses have the ability to make important changes that can alter our direction of travel for the better.
On average, we spend over one-third of our lives at work and so understandably become products of our surroundings. Many of our habits and traits can be attributed to our workplace environments, presenting an important opportunity for businesses.
Being or working towards becoming ESG compliant is now an expected policy for most businesses, but the work shouldn’t stop there. We need to look at what other impactful changes are available through the workplace.
Business is about people and they should work with their people to help them make better sustainable choices, both in and outside of work. To have the ability to influence a cultural change for the better is the opportunity many would wish for, but few get the chance to do and one that should be made the most of.
It can’t be a one-way dialogue; we aren’t going to progress with actual impactful changes if we don’t work with our people and educate where we can. Small changes made on a big scale can have huge results.
Simply introducing the plastic bag charge and encouraging reuse water bottles has massively reduced plastic waste. Operating a recycling policy in offices and limited printer use saves paper and in turn, trees. But what do these policies have in common? They aren’t board level operations or executive procedures; they are simple everyday occurrences which involve people making better choices to protect our planet and improve sustainability.
The important thing to note is, it is about education and behavioural changes. These people are more likely to reuse their water bottle outside the office too, recycle at home and carry a shopping bag with them. The goal should be to make changes in business that are achievable for people to replicate in their everyday life as well.
Businesses carry out many ESG decisions and operations on a high-end scale which massively influences climate change and sustainability, but we cannot overlook the opportunity available to educate at a grassroots level and help people understand their individual impact.
Initiatives like providing Wizso tablets in workplace toilets is a perfect example of this. The product is simple. A small eco-friendly tablet is released from a dispenser into the user’s toilet bowl before or after taking a pee. It reacts on impact with the water, delivering a fresh smell while changing the colour and leaving it recognisably clean, thus giving the user the confidence not to flush. A simple concept with huge results.
Each time it is used, and the toilet hasn’t been flushed, we save approximately 7.5 litres of fresh water and approx. 5 grams of carbon from being emitted. Rolling out an initiative like Wizso could begin in the office but be easily replicated at home. With the water shortage and cost of living crises currently front of mind, we need to apply concepts whereby a simple change by an individual can actually have a massive impact on climate change and family finance.
Who is responsible for our planet and its sustainability? The answer is twofold: businesses and people. The challenge is to make the most of the relationship between the two to bring about the cultural and behavioral changes so desperately needed to improve our sustainability performance.