Earth Day 2021, with the theme of ‘Restore Our Earth’, is all about taking the lessons, ideas and experiences from the pandemic into positive action that can help restore the world’s critical ecosystems.
While the European Environment Agency reports that the long-term impacts of Covid-19 on the environment are likely to be mixed, the crisis has undoubtedly put themes of sustainability and environmental impact at the front of our minds.
As outdoor space became our place to exercise, socialise and briefly escape the challenges of days in lockdown, the natural world has taken on a much bigger role in the lives of many more people.
Meanwhile, for businesses, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors have been moving out of ‘nice-to-have’ territory towards ‘business critical’ for some time – now influencing everything from executive pay to investing.
As we consider what we want our new working patterns, processes and plans to look like in the next normal, what can we take forward from the last year to shape our approach to sustainability and impact?
1) We can re-think what ‘change’ means
A lot of office-based environmental and sustainability initiatives used to be limited to things like encouraging use of recycling bins or switching coffee cups. But businesses have now seen how quickly their people can adapt to a completely new process, or how innovative their suppliers and partners are.
From re-thinking things like essential business travel, to re-inventing office space, to sustainable supply-chains, it’s the perfect opportunity to think more creatively about how to adopt and influence sustainable practices.
2) It’s an opportunity to connect
Our experiences of working from home and flexibly have reframed the relationship between work and life and made us reassess our priorities. In 2020, 75% of people surveyed by PwC wanted to work for an organisation that will make a positive contribution to society.
With the shift to more flexible working patterns looking likely to stay for many businesses, thinking about how to align with the topics and values employees want to engage with is key. At Momentum, we’ve seen how bringing our people together around topics like community impact and sustainability has helped us connect, especially when we can’t be together in person.
3) It’s worth talking about
With 80% of executives saying their organisation is concerned about climate change, sustainability and environmental impact issues are an area where businesses can work together to build valuable outcomes.
Over the past year, we’ve all become more aware that we share the same world, and there’s now an opportunity to work closer with clients, partners and suppliers to solve some of these challenges and build stronger relationships.
Navigating the disruption of the pandemic has required agility, creativity and resilience – qualities that are also essential in the approach to sustainability challenges. That’s why this year’s Earth Day is the perfect time to focus on the opportunities in our personal and working lives to make a sustainable difference to the world around us.
As a Growth Consultancy, continuous development is a fundamental part of our ethos. We are working to make changes and ongoing improvements to our own lives within and outside of the company. We recently launched an Earth Day Bingo, encouraging our colleagues to make feasible yet incremental changes to their daily routines, from recycling to sponsoring tree plantations. Similarly we got a number of team members, myself included, involved in Care International’s Walk in Her Shoes week-long fundraiser. The money raised will be put towards a life-changing cause, involving the building of wells and water pumps closer to rural communities to help women and girls who currently have to spend their days walking for water, water that is often contaminated.