A city is only as pleasant as its residents are considerate. A restaurant’s meals are only as tasty as the chef is talented. A street is only as welcoming as its residents are friendly. Similarly a business is only as sustainable as the choices of its employees.
As the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and Singapore Green Building Council (SGBC) launch the Sustainability in Singapore online programme, a timely article reached our inbox. BCA’s new online Training Programme has been set up with the help of Global Action Plan to support organisations in Singapore to mobilise building users in environmental action.
The article we read was written by the National University of Singapore. It demonstrated again that employee’s decisions make real and significant differences to environmental issues, and often in surprising ways. NUS studied employees lunch decisions in Beijing, Shenyang and Shijiazhuang – the three Chinese cities with the worst air pollution. When air pollution was visibly higher, more employees opted to have food delivered to their workplace instead of leaving the office. This had the knock-on effect of their lunch requiring more plastic packaging in its transportation. If this decision were repeated across all Chinese office workers on any given day of high air pollution, 2.5 million more plastic containers and bags would be consumed in one single day. In response to one environmental crisis, employees unwittingly contributed to another – plastic pollution.
Our choices might seem binary and independent, but of course, they are not. As the famous physics lesson has taught many students, our atmosphere contains finite resources that we share, to the extent that every breath we take today contains (on average) one molecule of the air that Roman Emperor Julius Caeser exhaled with his last breath.
So, when it comes to organisations having a lighter impact on the planet, it is vital that employees understand the consequences and importance of their choices.
People are not only decision-making machines, making thousands of conscious decisions every hour, but we are also invaluable assets for any business wanting to be environmentally responsible. Every person involved in a company’s sustainability programme brings a brain bursting with ideas and a pair of eyes to spot problems and opportunities. They bring ears to listen to each other’s theories, and mouths to convince more employees to care about environmental issues.
DBS, GIC, Swissotel and DP Architects know this well having already taken part in the pilots for the Sustainability in Singapore programme, and have benefitted from financial savings, lower carbon footprints and happier employees.
In the garden city of Singapore, there are 3.7 million potential sustainability advocates – the entire workforce of the nation. They will be vital contributors in ensuring the economy has the lightest possible impact on the planet. Let’s activate these advocates today! Join Sustainability in Singapore – it can be found at https://www.sustainabilityinsingapore.org/ and is free to join.
The Sustainability in Singapore Team