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Last week I ended my blog with a commitment made by the ARTÉMIA staff to take action and recycle our redundant phones and laptops as our small way of helping support a circular economy – i.e. putting value back into the system rather than there being a linear hard stop.
There has been a lot of discussion recently around the behavioral change needed for the principles of sustainability to become truly embedded in everyday life. One of the factors repeatedly cited as being necessary to achieve this is the need for it to become a ‘social norm’ with each of us holding ourselves and our peers accountable for putting sustainability into practice.
As you may know, ARTEMIA has ISO 14001 certification – a certification which specifically focuses on environmentally-friendly best business practices. I have written before of one particular aspect I appreciate in securing and maintaining this certification, in that it requires the action of every single staff member to be achieved, and so becomes a source of both individual and collective pride.
I am a real advocate of ISO certification for small business sustainability for many reasons, not least the efficiencies it can bring, but I also appreciate that for time- and resource-hungry companies, it can seem daunting. Yet for small businesses, the ‘sustainability opportunity’ is huge. According to the 2013 report The Big Green Opportunity (jointly created by Green America, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity and Ecoventures International) “small businesses at the frontier of capitalizing green opportunities are capturing significant market and operational advantages.” But the report also highlights the risk of missing out on this “Big Green Opportunity” by not embracing sustainability best practices.
I was inspired, then, to hear about a new zero-cost approach to behavioral change that is ideal for small business sustainability. The UK initiative The Do Nation works on the simple but very effective premise of “sponsorship through actions, not cash.” For the companies section, Do Good For Business, employees choose a pledge from a list of ‘DoActions’ such as cycling to work, turning off lights or video-conference calling and progress is tracked in interactive league tables – encouraging some very useful competition! In order to make it seem manageable, the pledge period lasts just two months, with the hope that over that time the new behavior will be adopted for the long term.
Such a simple and fun solution to what can seem an insurmountable problem, and one that doesn’t cost the earth(!), I believe The Do Notion could pave the way in helping power employee engagement in sustainability in small businesses across the globe. As Joan Baez once said, “Action is the antidote of despair” so perhaps now is the time for us all to become ‘Do Nations.’
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