Leadership Challenge – Update #2

A few months ago, Adam Hopwood and I set off for a joint project: that of building a platform to inspire and educate individuals about sustainability. Many discussions later, the idea has started to take shape. A website is being built and we’ve kicked off an Instagram campaign and personal challenges around different topics, starting with plastic free. Each has been an incredible learning journey, with much longer to go. Here is an update and some reflections against each:
  1. Plastics Free July: A movement to go plastic free for a month in July, started many years ago and grown steadily since the Blue Planet documentary release earlier this year, incited us to take on this challenge. There was plenty of material, weekly e-mails and respective recommendations on social media on what to cut out plastic. In part, it was hard, but not impossible – I would say that going plastic free challenges the convenience of certain products in our lives – as there is so little plastic-free shopping, you need to go out of your way to find them. Trying mini challenges myself was a great way to learn, dive both into the practicality of changing my behaviour and lifestyle, as well as building the knowledge of why there is a problem and what one can do about it. For the latter, a few books have been published as of late which I would recommend: “How to Give up Plastics” by Greenpeace campaigner Will McCallum). In a different post, I’ve summarised my top “plastic-free living” tips.Screenshot_20180805-121231
  2. 2. Instagram Challenge: Trying to lead by example and sharing experiences on social media has been an incredible empowering experience. I’ve shied away from Instagram for years, limiting myself to a few Facebook updates in the past. Starting this leadership challenge, I set out to ‘crack’ what Instagram was all about and find ways to communicate to friends, family and the wider public in a way that was engaging. I’ve been incredibly surprised at the level of feedback and engagement from people on Instagram. For the last month, every friend I would catch up with would bring up the plastic-free posts, going to great lengths to explain to me what they thought about each problematic, how they had been inspired to try something different in their daily life. This included the occasional photograph from the supermarket where people bought different types of tea (no Twinings, the bags have plastic!) or how their summer activity was to make themselves colourful shopping bags to avoid individually wrapped fruit and veg. Reflections: the posts that got the best responses were inspiring through the actions taken, informative and educational (facts that people didn’t know about), not preachy, and realistic for people to take on-board. In these posts, I remember the lessons of Simon Sinek and his book “Start with Why” and the power of playing to people’s desired identity – in turn, making posts relevant to individuals and their aspirations. Continuing into the future, I would try to ramp up and keep up posts to 1 a day for continuity.Screenshot_20180805-121238
  3. Website: This is currently still in design – a balance must be struck between building the perfect website and releasing something in iterations, with the opportunity of improving it over time. We’re currently looking for a platform to do the following: 1) Educate and inspire, with knowledge on what are the problems and the science behind them, 2) recommended tips and actions one can do to be more sustainable and address the issue, 3) Link to sustainable product alternatives (perhaps with purchasing discounts), 4) Ability to crowdsource information – e.g. link Instagram posts and recommendations to a website page. Still in construction, we look forward to sharing a draft on Plastic-Free lifestyles further on

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