Hello, 2020. The new decade has launched itself with very little introduction – undoubtedly the sort of introduction that tells us the world needs a bit of a change right now, and who better to kickstart that than the humans who inhabit the planet?
A lot of us spend the large majority of our days engrossed in some sort of work endeavours – whether we’re working traditional 9-5 jobs, involved in the rat-race of a startup, or keeping eclectic hours as part of service-oriented work or media, or our own freelance oriented roles. Often, leaving the “office” at the end of the day can be more challenging than we think – we go home with our thoughts, good or bad as they may be.
Here at The Sustainability Club, we believe it’s all a chain reaction. If we do good, be good, we end up impacting our own selves, along with one another, more positively. But too often, we forget that if we start at the office, we can actually carry this positivity out with us. That’s the kind of sustainability we’re talking about here – the type that encourages us to set better habits In order to lead happier, healthier lives.
So, how do we start creating a few good habits as we set sail into this new year?
We’d like you to consider this thought first and foremost: Our offices are our sacred spaces, so to speak. This follows the logic that the place in which we spend our time impacts our lives in profound ways – in the way a dark and dingy environment makes us feel like we want to shut down and sleep, brighter and fresher surroundings impart a certain lightness and clarity to our lives.
With this thought in mind, here are some simple things you can start doing to create some good habits for the year ahead:
1. Start with your coffee cup
Think twice about walking in with that coffee-chain disposable cup with its plastic lid and plastic stirrer, every morning. Carry your own reusable cup, it’s really not that much of an effort – and quite honestly, your own cup (and even going that one step further, making your coffee at home) makes the morning coffee that little bit more enjoyable.
2. Inject some life into the office
Bring in some plants – have you heard about South Africa’s Speckboom Challenge? Is there a hardy, happy plant that is native to your region and would do well in cheering up an office? Plants are well known for being able to remove toxins and provide a breath of fresh air for internal spaces – and aside from looking great, they offer the added bonus of building a community around looking after them!
3. Use plates instead of single-use plastic boxes
Set an example and encourage others to stop bringing in Styrofoam or plastic-box takeout. And while you’re at it, lobby for reusable Tupperware to be part of your office eating area – along with proper crockery and cutlery. It’s no science that eating off reusable plateware offers a bigger psychological boost to the mind – picture the feeling you get when you are served on real plateware in the business class of an airline, versus being sent your food in plastic and foil back in economy.
4. Shop responsibly
For the shoppers out there who are constantly looking to build to a work-wardrobe, stop saying “oh but it was cheap as chips”. No, in reality you’re just adding to the landfill problem. Start thinking about how long a fresh addition to the wardrobe will last, and list out at least five good reasons why you should make the purchase. Consider options you maybe hadn’t thought of before – buying pre-owned items does mean you won’t necessarily be walking into the office wearing the exact same high-street design as the person next to you. Doesn’t that feel good?
5. Lend a helping hand
Consider participating in some volunteer activity – maybe push your colleagues to participate in team-building through doing-good. There are so many options out there, wherever in the world you are: serve at a soup kitchen, go build a house for someone in need, chat with the elderly – the world is your oyster when it comes to donating your time and a smile.
Start with small steps, start some real conversations – and create some healthy habits that will last you beyond the office!
For more on how you can be more sustainable at work, and encourage others to do the same, check out our very practical guidebook at thesustainclub.com.
A special thanks to Ambika Behal, Co-Founder of The Sustainability Club for writing this piece. Check out post event picts from their book launch held at a HULA Happenings event last year and purchase their book 'Sustainability In The Corporate World' here to give you a more sustainable start for 2020.