3 ways to put eco-anxiety to work

Amazon rainforest fires: Satellite image of the Amazon fires in Brazil (Image: NASA WORLDVIEW)

Are you worried about climate change? You’re not alone. A recent survey found that 85% of us are! And it makes sense. Nearly three-quarters of us think we’re already feeling the effects of climate change. Case in point: July was the Earth’s hottest month on record — ever.

And now, we hear that the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest and the ‘lungs of the planet’ — is burning at record rates. Wildfires often occur in the dry season in Brazil, but there has been an 80% increase in the number of wildfires since last year. Why is this happening? Scientists say deforestation to make way for agriculture and cattle ranching is to blame (Brazil is the world’s biggest beef producer!). This summer alone, more forest has been cleared in Brazil than in the last three years combined, which has been spurred by the sharp drop in fines being handed out for environmental violations.

Protecting the Amazon is one of the most effective ways to slow the effect of climate change, since it absorbs millions of tons of carbon emissions every year. When those trees are cut or burned, they not only release the carbon they were storing, but we lose a powerful tool to absorb carbon emissions.

This is a Climate Emergency. With the Amazon not at its full capacity — it’s even more important that we reduce our emissions.

But don’t panic! We can still save the Amazon and combat climate change. But it’s going to take action on a large scale, and at multiple levels. You can help colleagues channel their nervous energy around the Climate Emergency into practical actions that not only benefit the planet, but also drive engagement at work. As a bonus, we can take the green behaviours we pick up at work into the other parts of our lives and influence our personal networks.

This is exactly what Hubbub has been working toward with Investec’s Corporate Sustainability team on its recent Sustainable Food Week. Here are our 3 top tips to turn eco-anxiety into climate action at work:

1. Clarify What ‘Sustainable’ Actually Means

We had speakers from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, Keep Cup and eXXpedition come in to give talks about what ‘sustainable food’ actually means, covering topics like food waste, food packaging waste and its impact on the oceans, reduced-meat diets and local and seasonal food.

With so much (often conflicting) information flying around, these kinds of talks can help get everyone on the same page — and do some mythbusting! If colleagues want to learn more, direct them to resources like Hubbub’s new podcast, ‘ What On Earth? ‘ to learn how to make adjustments in our daily lives to protect the planet.

Don’t be shy about using office space — screens, desktop screensavers and posters in common areas to spread the word! It’s always a good idea to pair informational messages with some tangible tips people can take away. We gave away reusable cutlery, Keep Cups, reusable bottles and free recipes cards for delicious plant-based meals made using leftovers!

2. Give People Sustainable Choices

A few months ago, we talked about 3 ways your workplace can promote plant-rich diets, without removing choice: making healthy and delicious plant based options accessible at the office canteen, incorporating this into well-being initiatives, and celebrating plant-rich meals. Investec’s canteen put all 3 tips into practice. During Sustainable Food Week, Investec’s canteen highlighted it’s One Planet Plate, a plant-based and locally sourced Spinach, Pea and Asparagus Risotto, and shared its recipe.

It continues to use signage to highlight its delicious vegan and vegetarian meals, snacks for networking events and its healthy salad bar, which ties into Investec’s well-being programme, InvestecBe.

3. Source Sustainable Products

Source food locally and seasonally, wherever possible. Investec held a roadshow at its canteen to help people see where their food came from in the UK! Along with that, support companies that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Rainforest Alliance. En mass, offices like yours can help shift demand toward more responsible production.

Yes, the recent news on the Climate Emergency and the Amazon is devastating and scary. But don’t forget that collectively, our choices can demotivate deforestation and cut our carbon footprint. Up to 52% of people in the UK are actively trying to reduce meat intake, growing the UK’s plant-based market to £1.1 billion in value by 2023. That’s something to chew on!

Donate to Emergency Funds to fight fires in the Amazon here.

Thanks for reading and keep in touch! Follow our monthly blog series #HubbubAtWork or contact us at enterprise@hubbub.org.uk. In case you missed it, our last blog covered 3 ways your workplace can ‘grow’ greener!

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com on August 30, 2019

An experienced comms professional, with a BBA & MSc of Sustainable Urban Management. I work to influence sustainable business, urban policy & behaviour change.