No change without action. This has always been true, and it still is, especially now. One of the advantages of these times is that we prove we can change our behavior en masse. And thereby realize huge changes. Working from home until recently was a taboo, in the meantime we are all preparing for times in which working from home, with or without corana, will be part of our work culture. And: a year ago, who'd have had the audacity to say Schiphol could be a bit smaller?
"Change the world, start with yourself"
This quote has been in flyers, on posters, on tiles, etc., for 80 years. It's from the founder of the Bond Zonder Naam, an organization that focusses on poverty reduction and charity (they merged with Cordaid in 2007). What it says, still goes. For anything that happens, you can blame the government, your employer, multinationals. retailers, Covid-19, the system, etc, etc. The alternative is: take it into your own hands. Because if you do that together wit many, you will generate change. Maybe not as fast, but you can do it. And: good examples tend to be followed.
It's their fault
Sure, large companies have an enormous impact. For example: if Shell will continue to invest money in oil than in sustainable energie, they will keep contributing to climate change. If your bank continues to invest in projects that have a negative impact on the environment, in the weapon industry, or if they do not care about animal welfare, the moment when all kinds of wrongs will be right, will not get any closer soon. As long al de fashion industry keeps using huge amounts of water and energy (and cheap labor) to produce 'fast fashion', sustainable fashion will remain a mission impossible for a long time.
We're forgetting one important thing: the other side. You. You as a consumer. Als we start buying cars that are not able to run on gas, Shell will have to change their investments. If many of us transfer our financial transactions to green banks, that do not have anything to do with the weapon industry, that don't invest in projects that undermine animal- or human welfare, they will have to change their policies. They already feel the pressure. (Tips on how to change bank are in the article in AD.) If you as a consumer do not buy more clothes than you wear, or choose garments that last long, and are produced in a sustainable way (and you do not discard of them at the drop of a hat), producers will have to adjust to the call for change. You can't expect change to happen if you don't sacrifice anything yourself.
You can't do it alone, but if we take different decisions together, in large numbers, a lot more is possible. Rutger Bregman of De Correspondent explains: “Psychologen Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler mention ‘Three Levels of Influence’. With our behavior, we not have an influence on friends (level 1), but also the friends of our friend (level 2), and their friends (level 3). This means, that if you buy a vegetarian piece of meat, or join a climate protest, you will also influence people you will never meet. ”
Practice what you preach
Those Three Levels of Influence apply to you especially if you are in charge of an organization. Or actually, not completely: they apply to you even more. because you are in a position where you van not only change your own behavior but your organization's as well. What's important in the process: practice what you preach. This will generate more positive impact, and, what's more: less resistance. Bregman calls this the Thunberg-effect. "Her protest went viral, kids incited their parents, companies started spending more money on sustainability, and politicians compete on the launching of green plans." According to him, this is because Thunberg leeft. Dat in tegenstelling tot Leonardo DiCaprio, die zijn milieuprijs ging ophalen met zijn privévliegtuig, waar Thunberg met een zeilboot de Atlantische Oceaan overstak. Cinici hebben geen vat op wat mensen als Thunberg doen.
Take a look
Take a look at your supply chain, take a look at who your bank is. Loom at what you are producing, of where your investments go. Take a loot at how you treat your employees. Is there room for improvement? Can you change things fast? We're not saying it's easy. Or that is doesn't take sacrifice. But we can change. We should change.
In the end, change is just a matter of taking action. Shall we?
We often get excited about lots of topics. We do that regularly by placing a pagefilling ad in FD. On October 29 oktober the ad below will be published there.