Sustainability is a SMALL Movement – Part 2

The property of being environmentally sustainable; the degree to which a process or enterprise is able to be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources — Oxford English Dictionary

Sustainability is the BIG word we have recently heard in almost every country, especially during COP26, concerning climate change. The publicity around these topics is massive, and it might make people feel that this is an effort that large corporations or a country can only undertake. Well, this is further from the truth, and we can all make a difference in how we live and work. This article is a two-part series on how we can all play a SMALL part in making this global effort possible. You can catch the first part of this article here.

We feel that as an individual, there are little things that we can do. Even while we try what we can, we are only one of the many. But, as individuals, we can potentially influence our decisions made at the company level to be more aware of this topic. In this article, I am trying to see how can a company contribute to this greater initiative of sustainability. A company’s effort can also be considered SMALL in a global context. But, everything starts SMALL.

Photocopiers, Aircons, Fans, Lightings, Computers, etc., are some of the appliances that draw electricity in our working space. Did we wonder if we need them to be running all the time? Yes, they need to be functioning well when we need them, but we do not need them running when there’s no one in the office.

When we are out for lunch, do we switch off the light? If we have a desk near the windows and the lighting is sufficient to work, do we still need to turn on the light? When everyone in the office is wearing a sweater, can we turn up the aircon to be more comfortable? When we leave our desks, do we put our computers in sleep mode? Apart from saving power, it is good security practice if you handle sensitive stuff for the company.

Electrical bills aside, since this only concerns those who pay, we waste electricity. If your company strength is in the range of tens, hundreds, or thousands, this can be significant savings collectively. To encourage such practices, can the company baseline the spending and give away those savings as an incentive to the staff?

There are already technologies that can help companies save electricity in the long term. However, it takes conscious effort to get the company to equip with them and have the initial investment before the savings come back to us.

In Singapore, we tend to buy things online and get from whatever sources give us the lowest price. These come from overseas suppliers most of the time, and the cost is low even when we account for the logistic charges. The question is if this is sustainable? Sustainable can be from either the environmental perspective or the country’s economic perspective. I will focus on the ecological perspective as this article’s focus.

Yes, if we get things locally, it will likely be more expensive. However, if we are getting something already available locally, we might be creating additional logistic movement. What happens to those items when the local retailer imports something and is going out of trend? They might throw them away, which creates additional waste or send them to another place to sell them off, creating another logistic movement. If the item that we brought is faulty, you will need to return it to the location of origin, and they will send you another piece again, wasting time and resources.

Do you know that how we sell online to invite potential customer contributes to our carbon footprint? Yes, while we do not own those computing resources, those equipment are there due to our demand. So, granted, this is how I am reaching out to my customers, but I feel we can do it better.

We might want to consider optimising the information we are offering online for potential customers to browse, making the information more concise, reducing the image size and targeting targeted marketing instead of a wide cast. Looking at how our consumer’s segment behaves, we might not want to print our flyers and distribute them. Instead, we can consider using those notice boards to catch their attention and having a number to call or QR to scan and get online for more information if they are keen.

Lastly, we can help each other by sharing services offered by our friends to our network of contacts. Besides the savings in marketing and resources, such marketing means have long been proven effective. The key reason is that it is from someone we know and trust. Therefore, we offer a similar level of confidence too.

It is not easy to be consistent in sustainability, and the approach is not as direct as we thought. It is like a matrix where one action can indirectly affect the other factors. It is not easy to discuss and manage and complex to implement the action. Lastly, sustainability effort is not CHEAP, but guess what? It will be more EXPENSIVE if we do not contribute to this effort to be more sustainable.



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Sunny Tan HC

Continuous Improvement | CX | DX | Ex- Technoprenuer | Project Manager | Vacathoner | Medium Writer