Early in 2013, I noticed that people were talking about environmental sustainability and the concept of sustainable development. The trend impacted my lifestyle greatly. I discontinued my printed album services for my wedding photography because everything about the printed albums was made of plastic. I am very particular about having sustainability in business and concerned about the sustainable supply chain. I started commuting to work by bike at least three days per week with 50 km each day. When we talked about corporate sustainability in 2013, conversations were mostly focused on plastics and fossil fuel emissions. I was happy to see that the eco-friendly trend was growing– the negative impacts of fossil fuels and plastic pollution were becoming known.
By the end of 2013, we humans managed to emit 35.75 billion tonnes of dirty greenhouse gases.
Sustainability was defined, and so I continued to live what I like to call an “eco-conscious lifestyle,” as a growing number of people were doing. I learned that in 2016 we managed to emit 36.16 billion tonnes of earth-heating gases, despite our new environmental sustainability efforts.
In 2016 we managed to emit more earth-heating gases than the previous year.
People, including myself, continued to talk about sustainable management. I was exposed to new efforts and ideas like the zero-waste movement, bike-to-work campaigns, etc. My wife and I even had our zero-waste, eco-friendly wedding, too. In 2017, together, our human race managed to emit 36.77 billion tonnes of dirty gases.
Once again in 2017, we managed to emit more earth-heating gases than the previous year.
A growing number of people have embraced an environmentally conscious lifestyle– shouldn’t we have reduced those hot gases? What is wrong? Why are these numbers increasing year after year?
I wondered, are we really understanding the definition of “sustainability” correctly, or is it being wrongly used by an ordinary person like me? Or are we being comfortably cheated by greenwashing efforts of many unethical businesses and organizations? I began my quest to find answers to all of my questions!
Thanks to hundreds of scientists, scholars, and subject matter experts teamed up to create the Project Drawdown. Paul Hawken and the Project Drawdown team answered my questions. They expanded the meaning of “environmental sustainability” and ranked each of our actions based on their effect on Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
Suddenly, my knowledge of environmental sustainability increased from 2 solutions to 100 sustainable solutions. Wow! I was amazed. Soon after, I realized that this comprehensive list of solutions came with its very own challenge.
Focusing on 100 solutions is overwhelming, at least to me.
I learned from many successful entrepreneurs that when there are ten tasks to do in a day, I focus only on the first 2 or 3 high-priority tasks because I only have limited time. When I focus on 20% to 30% of the high-priority work each day and can still get my life and my business moving forward, peacefully and happily, it’s called the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule.
So, with this knowledge of what worked well for me, I applied the same concept to the solutions suggested by the Project Drawdown team. What I found was very interesting: the top five solutions are so efficient that they can solve more than 30% of the problems. How cool is that? I call these solutions Truly Sustainable Solutions. Our associates are on a mission to help social entrepreneurs and change-makers who are already, or willing to, work towards the Truly Sustainable Solutions.
The 5 Truly Sustainable Solutions:
- Reduce food waste
- Plant-rich diets
- Family planning and education
- Refrigerant management
- Tropical forest restoration
At Earth and Associates, we consider these five solutions to be “truly sustainable” because they are efficient and actionable by almost every one of us on this planet— and they can be acted upon starting today! The other 95 solutions are actionable too, but sometimes they involve severe government involvement or business and technological innovations. The 95 other solutions are less effective than the five we focus on.
The 5 Truly Sustainable Solutions will have a positive impact on the other 95 solutions within a short period of time, too.
While reducing fossil fuels and the plastic-free movements are not included in our top five list, I would still like to mention that they are significant changes to make in our lives. They were the first few initiatives that introduced me to many other realms of climate crisis solutions. This earlier movement inspired much of my research, including learning about Project Drawdown.
How can you help to implement the Truly Sustainable Solutions in your life, your community or on a global scale?
My team and I at Earth and Associates would love to hear from you and keep the sustainability conversation going.