It’s time to stand up and clean up

Our senior consultant Meg has earnt the title of CEO (Chief Environmental Officer) in the office for her personal war on getting us to be more mindful of our consumption. This week she attended EMBARK2019 a conference dedicated to businesses wanting to take positive action to reduce emissions. She was in good company with business leaders from some of NZ’s largest corporates. Here’s her first LinkedIn article about the experience.

Last year I was horrified to hear the World Bank reveal that New Zealand was one of the most wasteful nations in the developed world – we were number ten on their list.

“Kiwis produce over 3.6kg of waste per person every day, adding up to a shocking 734kg total annual haul of trash. This is a 20 percent increase from three years ago and five times the global daily average of 0.65kg.” 

Having just come back from two weeks in Asia (yes I offset our carbon miles) I was appalled at the trash that polluted the once-pristine waters around Thailand and Vietnam, in addition to the mind-boggling amounts of plastic that were literally everywhere. But neither of those countries make the World Bank’s Top 10 list…

I can tell you what I personally saw in Thailand floating amongst the brightly coloured tropical fish – plastic bags, a plethora of different types of plastic drink bottles, large oil containers, big blue plastic tubs, buckets, old nets, bits of fishing line, and way more. Some of these had been in the ocean a long time judging by the various bits and pieces growing on them. A lot of it was no longer recognisable as a particular thing – but more as a mass or blob of plastic.

French swimmer Ben Lecomte is currently swimming the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to draw attention to this very thing. 300 nautical miles of human-created trash that’s bopping around in our oceans, becoming food for the fish we eat. Not very appetising is it? [Check him out on the web].

Banning single-use plastic bags is a start. It’s better than nothing. But we need to transition to a circularly economy approach. And we need to do it now.

Yesterday I was fortunate to attend EMBARK2019 – a conference dedicated to businesses wanting to take positive action to reduce emissions. Speakers included business leaders from organisations who have signed up to the Climate Leaders Coalition (who just celebrated their first anniversary) talking about how they measure and report their emissions, set public emissions reduction targets, and summaries of ongoing projects to reduce emissions.

Companies like The Warehouse Group, Fonterra, Z Energy – and so many more represented, sharing their struggles and achievements. I felt somewhat reassured that here were these enormous companies who actually are acknowledging they need to do more. Acknowledging that yep, some of their industries are ‘bad’ but they’re changing, they’re trying to eliminate emissions and waste where they can.

One of the case studies that I really liked was about Doconomy. They’ve partnered with MasterCard to introduce a credit card that tracks carbon dioxide emissions of purchases and the caps the climate impact of users’ spending. Imagine that? Go to buy a cheeky bottle of pinot on a Friday night and your card declines – not because you’re out of cash but because you’ve reached your allowable climate impact.

So what am I trying to say? Everyone can contribute – from a four person office, a singleton, a family and everyone in between. Change your lightbulbs to energy-efficient ones, join a beach clean-up, stop printing your emails (you know who you are), car share / walk / ride a bike, recycle, reuse, take your own water from home, stop buying stuff you don’t really need. Then our grandchildren might have a chance.