By Josh Richards, LEED AP
April 19, 2021
Changing long-standing behaviors on a global scale is a tall order.
From local ordinances to the Paris Climate Agreement, government continues to shape and shift the economy to better address pressing issues like climate change. Sustainable materials sourcing and all-electric vehicle fleets are just some of the interventions corporations are taking to curb their environmental impacts and demonstrate to consumers responsible stewardship within our communities.
What are you doing to help?
The traditional top-down approach to addressing social and environmental crises is a critical piece of the equation, without a doubt – but it takes a village. It has been shown time and again that a bottom-up, grassroots approach is essential to help reshape public thought, shift cultural tendencies, and affect long-lasting changes in our behaviors. Living a more sustainable existence as a citizen of the world comes down to building good habits.
While simple in theory, building good habits can be surprisingly onerous. From trying to eat right to exercising daily to reading more and watching less TV, we struggle against ourselves and the pressures of today to build behaviors that can make us happier, healthier and more capable of achieving our goals. When it comes to sustainability, there’s an added benefit: Good habits don’t just improve you, they improve your family, your community and the natural world around you.
Wondering where to start? When in doubt, think LOCAL.
- Reduce your radius. It’s easy to find what you want online these days, but it takes a little more time and energy to find it nearby. Make a habit of selecting goods and services you can source within a 2-hour drive (~120 miles).
- Pool your trips. Everyone has heard of carpooling as an alternative to standard commuting – why not do the same on your own? Make a habit of combining trips to reduce drive time and gas, like grabbing groceries on the way home from work.
- Support local vendors. The culture of a community often stems from the stores and restaurants unique to that place. Make a habit of splitting your patronage between national chains and local mom-and-pop shops to keep the spirit of your community thriving.
- Eat local meat and produce. Local growers and co-ops are an excellent alternative to factory farms as they typically have a much lower impact on the environment pound for pound. Make a habit of buying fresh food from farmers markets or similar venues to stay informed about how your food is produced and to reduce the preservatives you consume.
- Avoid excess packaging. Today’s products often come with layers of packaging. This is exacerbated when items are shipped directly to your home. Make a habit of pooling purchases in one large order to reduce packaging or buy in person to avoid it altogether!
- Promote native species. Air pollution and our shifting climate have made it easier for invasive species to thrive and harder for indigenous species to compete. Make a habit of selecting native trees and flowers for your landscaping to promote essential pollinators like honeybees and butterflies.
- Take advantage of public spaces. Outdoor recreation and exercise are essential for supporting metabolism, mood and mental wellness. Make a habit of using parks, art installations and hike-and-bike trails at least weekly to reconnect with nature and recenter yourself.
Remember, as with any habit, change takes time. Start with a small action and build on the momentum as you become more consistent with your new behaviors. Stay positive about the efforts you make and encourage a friend or family member to build the good habit alongside you. We all need an Accountabili-Buddy now and then!
When it comes to building sustainable habits, the connectedness of our behaviors can change the world.
Josh Richards leads Transwestern’s Energy & Sustainability efforts, supporting national operations for all clients. He is spearheading projects from energy and water efficiency to enhancing asset valuation through cost-effective and environmentally conscious investment.
- Transwestern 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Report
- 801 Tower Honored with Water Performance Award from U.S. Department of Energy
- Improving Indoor Air Quality and Creating a Safer Office Environment