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Start a sustainability conversation at work

I encourage you to follow your passion and start a sustainability conversation at work.

There are a lot of people interested in or passionate about sustainability. Sadly not all of them dare to talk about it at work. I was one of them. I recently wrote a post on how to start a sustainability group in your organisation. This was based on personal experience. Today I’ll cover was that the process of deciding to start a group. More importantly I’ll also share why it was a rather long-winded road to start a sustainability conversation in the workplace. I hope that by sharing my story it helps you jump forward and take the action you’ve been considering.

Context

To give you a bit of context I’ve always been aware of the environment due to spending my school holidays in a remote area of Estonia. More on that here. I studied sociology and focused my research on environmental friendliness. When I moved to the UK I sort of ended up putting my passion on hold.

I was initially sharing a house, so I didn’t want to push my sustainability habits onto other. Also at work I didn’t want to stand out as the odd sustainable Estonian. So I sort of followed everyone else. I was still doing more commonly accepted things like carrying a reusable cloth bag.

First step

After couple of years I was feeling more comfortable with the culture and my job. In other words once I knew I was adding value something clicked. I thought I should do something with my sustainability passion. My first step was a cautious one – I decided to do more public speaking. I knew it would be useful if I wanted to communicate anything sustainability related at some point. Plus that was something that wasn’t part of my job role, but would be easily seen as a complementary thing. Essentially I was testing the water. See here for my blog post on how I went about finding public speaking opportunities.

Start the conversation

Public speaking increased my confidence. I also reached out to a colleague who does our environmental reporting. Few months later she mentioned another colleague had reached out to her regarding sustainability. All of us met and I agreed to put in a kick off meeting for a sustainability group. The first meeting had over 10 attendees which was well beyond any of my hopes. I had worked in the company for two years and hadn’t heard anyone speak about sustainability. You can imagine I was very pleasantly surprised.

That meeting was the first occasion when I had publicly shared my sustainability interest in the workplace. That was a huge achievement for me. And the fact that it was very positively received was a massive bonus. That was the start of a very impressive sustainability journey in the company.

Have you brought up sustainability in your workplace? How did you find it?

Do you wish you had started the conversation sooner? If so, what stopped you?

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