As 2021 begins, the topics of environment, health, safety, and sustainability are more important than ever before. The ongoing challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have encouraged people to consider ways they can make an impact in these areas, but many people struggle to understand how they can effectively make a difference. It can be difficult to find information or to encourage other members of your community to engage in similar practices, which can lead to frustration. In this blog post, we discuss several ways that you can build a community around EHS&S in your home, workplace, or community.
- The first place that you can build a community around EHS&S is right at home! You can get every family member involved in these causes by considering how you can stay safe and improve your environmental impact at home. You could host a family meeting to discuss your plans for household safety risks, including fire, air quality, and natural disasters. Monitor your family’s water and electrical use and consider implementing water and energy-saving technologies to save money and reduce your impact such as switching to LED light bulbs, switching to reusable water bottles, taking cooler showers, composting food waste, using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic and more. Check out this video with some simple tips you can implement at home. You can consider larger projects if resources allow, including investing in energy efficient appliances, using sustainable landscaping to reduce water use on your lawn or installing solar panels on your roof. By involving your family in these discussions, you can both create a tangible impact while also encouraging your family members to think more about these issues with their friends.
- Next, consider how you can encourage your workplace to create a community around EHS&S and implement reforms. Many larger organizations have internal EHS&S committees or sustainability teams who work with the company at a high level; consider talking with them first to learn more about how you can reduce your environmental impact or make your workplace safer. If your company is smaller and this function doesn’t exist yet, consider discussing these issues with your company’s executive team or office manager. Even small steps, from offering reusable cups to better monitoring energy usage, can have a huge impact! On the Health & Safety side, now is a good time to check in on coworkers - especially those that might be more isolated working remotely to ensure mental health is a priority. A simple “coffee chat” video call can go a long ways. Most business leaders understand the importance of these topics and will be excited to learn that you are interested in implementing these ideas within the office. Bonus – this is something you can market and talk about externally to show your community or clients that you’re invested in these practices.
- You can also consider approaching your community’s leaders about EHS&S topics and encouraging them to be more upfront about their commitments to reducing environmental impact. There are many stakeholders within local government who are responsible for EHS&S areas, and they often just need encouragement and support from local community members to begin publicly engaging with their community. For example, the city of Sunnyvale, California has launched a Sustainability Speaker Series where sustainability experts have been invited to present their work to the public at large. The events usually include a Q&A session and community members are encouraged to discuss these topics with their friends and family. Such events are inexpensive and build discussion around these topics in the community at large.
- Another way to build community around EHS&S topics is to engage with others around the world through social media. You can learn about different ways to make an impact and discuss the wider implications of policy with interested people around the world. This is also a great way to share ideas about which solutions or interventions work best within a given community, as every community’s situation is different. Check out this list of top EHS&S social media accounts to follow.
- A final way that you can build a community around EHS&S is to become a practitioner yourself! The field is growing quickly and firms around the world are hiring. By becoming an EHS&S expert, you can have a tangible impact on the world around you and work on solving some of the biggest problems in the field. If you don’t have the expertise or desire to make a career change, you can also look at volunteering with environmental or sustainability organizations or non-profits and make a difference in your spare time.
In summary, there are several great ways to build a community around environment, health, safety, and sustainability topics. Your family, workplace, local community, and social media are all great places to start the engagement. You can consider different topics of discussion or solutions to implement within your community, and you can learn best practices from others. You can also consider becoming an EHS&S specialist yourself to work on these problems more directly.
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