Intentional impact - a non-environmentalist's guide to climate action

Updated: Nov 19, 2021


Our Head of Net Zero shares her thoughts on what the everyday impact of our small decisions can mean for our jobs.


Leaving COP behind for one more year, government leaders, negotiators and activists are making their way back home. As many grapple with the meaning of the pledges made in Glasgow, some of us are sitting back wondering “What now?”; “What did they mean?”; “Is anything changing?”; “That’s all well and good but..”


International climate change summits and shared agreements are very important. They set the tone and lead to international action, but they can often feel ridiculously removed from what we, as individuals, are able to achieve. I want to offer you a different perspective: “what you can”, and probably are already, doing.



Most jobs and career choices have an impact on our climate, often times unintentionally. Simply by flipping the narrative to taking intentional actions and making considerate decisions, you are most likely increasing your impact on the outcome in the battle for the human race - because, let’s be completely honest here, the lump of rock we call home will survive without us. If we want to thrive alongside it, we have to act now.


Let's take a look at how you might already be doing just that. I have pulled together a list of job titles that may not immediately sound like they helping solve the climate crisis, but they will, just as long as they are intentionally impactful.


​Quality Manager/Assistant





You are there to make sure that it is “right the first time, every time!” and you literally prevent waste from happening in the first place. No waste = no wasted carbon!

Designer



What is it made of? How will it be used? How will it get there? What will it be wrapped in? How will it end its life? That is literally every side of carbon reduction.

Software Engineer





Are you designing processes to be low power consumption, more efficient, less likelihood of negative impacts on hardware? That prevents CO2 from building up!

Teacher


Oh the wonderful worlds you speak of…history teachers & the industrial revolution; geography teachers & sea level rise and migration; maths teachers – think carbon accounting; business studies and politics – carbon taxation and the disproportionate burden on less wealthy countries. The future leaders, workers and parents are looking for to you for guidance - explore the impact of your subject.

Delivery driver



Start-stop on your vehicle and making sure you're not idling? You're not braking too hard and you drive cautiously. That no doubt adds up to protect your life, but it is also saving all of ours by limiting the impact on the environment.

Logistics manager




How does it get there? How much can you transport at once? What will save the most fuel? Those are all carbon calls!

Graphic artist



You are toying with the abstract and turning a concept into accessible information. You are sharing ideas, how do you go about it? Moving away from power and material hungry communications is carbon curating.

Engineer



Are you in charge of design and engineering out the risk? Do add in the risk of flood, heat, water shortage, material fatigue… You guessed it, that's all carbon.

Chef



Any cook knows the importance of quality ingredients. Be careful with storing them so they don't rot too soon, prioritise seasonal dishes and consider the food miles of your supplies.

Banking



Do you help people get loans for solar panels? Do you invest in sustainable companies? Keeping the office doors shut and power down your computer at the end of the day?

Hospitality managers



Food and drink wastage – does it go from the bin to an anaerobic digestor where it becomes energy? Skipping the straws as standard offer? Do you limit napkins to one per person?

Retail workers



Unless you own the shop, you might have limits on the products you sell, but you can make sure the lights are off when the shop is shut, the packaging is kept to a minimum. When it comes to the industry at large– think doors on fridges in shops, quality clothing made to last, doors on shops that actually close! All carbon!

HR professionals



​Is sustainability training offered as part of standard induction trainings for all staff? How can you build carbon awareness in job descriptions at all levels of the organisation?

Leadership on sustainability is everywhere, not just in closed-doors high-security negotiations rooms, but in lunch rooms, in dining rooms, in meeting rooms and in class rooms. It's true that we have the inglorious distinction of being the only species creating its own extinction event – but it doesn’t need to be that way.


Allow me to encourage you to be “intentionally impactful” in your role and join the worldwide team to action. We are all in this together, from designers, to estate managers to drivers and teachers, all in a position to make our own small decisions to help keep global warming below 1.5°C and look after the future of humanity on this planet.


Together, for the sake of the future, let's make a real difference every day across all professions and passion projects.