Facilitating the sustainability workshop at Friday’s Bridport Local Food Conference it was apparent that there’s still a great need for raising awareness of sustainability issues and the benefits of changing behaviour.
And by education we didn’t just mean the traditional route by getting into schools and teaching our children about the environment through the national curriculum. The need for knowledge was evident through all walks of life – from businesses who could can sell their waste as a resource to another company who can use it within its manufacturing process, to adding further value to a material or by identifying the impact of switching on a light or plugging in an electrical product. We all do this numerous times a day but rarely think of the consequences of where the energy comes from. We only do so if there is a power cut or during severe bouts of cold weather in the winter.
How many of us think where the energy comes from when we switch on a light?
Despite an increase in teaching about the environment in schools and universities participants at the workshop believed that though the information had been embedded it was clear it hadn’t been fully understood. Similarly a couple of students studying waste management technologies and corporate social responsibility as part of their degree admitted that though they were well versed in sustainability issues their friends on different courses thought very little about the environment on a day-to-day basis.
Delegates agreed that a mixture of policy developed at national and local level was crucial, with most believing that a greater impact could be made locally if they had influential ties within their community or region. But all wanted more guidance from national government to ensure change was implemented and confidence in necessary investment was carried out.
The way the sustainability message is communicated is essential and like a lot of things in life there’s no one size fits all solution. We’ve a wide variety of options to choose from – print, social media, face to face to name a few – and we’ll need to use all creatively to achieve our aims. We need to reverse the attitude that communications is just a cost on the bottom line. Reverse those budgets that have been stripped to the core and let’s start to make headway.