How am I supposed to save the planet when I already have so much going on?
How am I supposed to live more sustainably when the infrastructure for it is just not there?
How can I live sustainably on a budget?
There are so many ways to lead a more sustainable life. You do not have to immediately go vegan and walk in cloth shoes and drink only purified rainwater. You don’t have to shop only at organic farmers’ markets. It can be a lot more subtle, yet effective. Every little helps. So I thought about the steps I have taken in the past few months towards living more sustainably as an entrepreneur and as a person. I’d like to share them here with you:
Step 1 – Share an office
It is maybe not the most obvious sustainable step but I took it. In recent years – especially since my daughter was born – I have been spending a lot less time at the office. In other words: I’ve been renting an office, but haven’t been using it. What a waste of space! And a waste of money. Neither convenient nor sustainable. So I left there and am now sharing my office space with someone who is there much more often. More efficient and much more fun!
Step 2 – Work virtually
I don’t even know how many kilometers I have traveled in recent years driving to all kinds of appointments. That took time and petrol. I started working more efficiently. Simply because I also miss the time to go through all kinds of well-intentioned appointments. The appointments which I do, I regularly do virtually. Long live Skype! Or just call. It is maybe not the best way to really get to know someone, but to have a quick meeting or to keep someone up to date it works really well.
Step 3 – Stop printing
Printing everything out used to be so normal. I no longer have a printer at home and therefore print a lot less. I now print monthly more often than daily. And when I print, I do it on proven durable paper. Good for the environment – and good for the wallet.
Step 4 – Working online and digitally
Another sustainable choice is more online and digital work. I do some of this myself and get help with many digital tasks. I like to outsource a lot of them to give more people a chance to do the kind of work they love doing. I also believe that doing business is knowing where the services you provide start and end – and outsourcing the things that don’t make you happy or that you don’t want to make time for.
Step 5 – Sustainable networking
Sustainability goes, of course, far beyond no longer printing and copying and driving less. All of the above are good efforts but you can also take sustainability to the next level. And through making sustainable choices in a much broader field. So I decided to go much more sustainable networking. I have joined a network club that is strongly focused on the reasons of networking: organizing recommendations and (potential) turnover. Again it saves me a lot of time and I also see (I am now a year and a half in) that it yields much more.
Step 6 – Customers who make sustainable choices
We only have a short time here on earth. I can’t work on everyone’s fame. But my client choices matter. And that is why I prefer to work with companies that also care about sustainability, that want to make the world a better place, make people more aware of the sustainable opportunities or make people happy with what they do. Think, for example, of the Dutch organisation ”Nederland CO2 Neutraal’ (gives inspiring events and was nominated for ‘Most Sustainable Company of The Netherlands), GROWx (first vertical farm in the Netherlands – grows vegetables without using land and with minimal use of water and light) and Klooker (encourages people to make sustainable choices by sharing inspiring services and products), to name but a few.
Step 7 – Separating waste, yes really!
I don’t have to separate waste where I live. No not at all. There is one container that you can just dump everything in. However, I don’t feel comfortable throwing everything in one garbage bag. So I have found a place for paper and glass nearby. And someone picks up the caps every week. A structure is emerging. I also found an address for small boxes and egg cartons, where they really appreciate receiving them. It is a small effort for a good feeling. That is also worth something!
PS I have largely switched to washable diapers for a year. That is still quite a job, but the environment is worth it. And they also look very nice.
So much for the seven steps I have taken towards a more sustainable life. Some steps are easier, others are harder. But take a practical look at what you can do in your life. I am, of course, very curious if you are working on sustainability. What are you doing to take care of our planet?