02 Apr 2020

How little actions can solve big problems

Butterfly Wing
While the world stands still amidst the outbreak of the coronavirus, there are important lessons we can learn from this experience when it comes to the power of individual action in tackling big, global problems.

While I sit in my new ‘self-isolated’ home office trying to tune out the noise of my son’s Bluey-marathon, I am reminded of the power of what sits behind our collective action to “#stayathome” and how this equally applies to the efforts of individuals when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint.

There have been similar parallels drawn by others already, and counter arguments to the effect that climate change is too big, too intangible and too distant for similar collective efforts to make any real impact. But this later view ignores two critical things that I am seeing.

Firstly, as consumers we are riding a wave of unprecedented choice when it comes to being able to choose sustainably.

Whether it’s going carbon neutral on your flights, rideshare, postcard to your Grandmother, cup of tea, or your investment portfolio; the choice is easy. It’s all there. And it’s all coming from Australian companies that we work with.

And just when you think that flying carbon neutral may not be something you will be doing for a while, you might be interested to know about companies like NEXTDC who recognise that all of our Zoom calls, emails and LinkedIn posts translate into data that needs to be stored somewhere in big, secure ‘data hotels’ called ‘the cloud’. And that cloud has a footprint, a big one – one that’s overtaking aviation in global emissions. So, in a time like this, giving their customers the chance to work with a carbon neutral supplier presents NEXTDC with a sharp competitive edge.

We know this, because we work to design these solutions for companies on a daily basis and predicting where the demand will next come from is too hard, because it’s coming from everywhere. This is not slowing down, and in fact, if what we are all doing right now is anything to go by, our collective signals to do the right thing as individuals for the good of the world is only going to ramp up.

The second reason this is a bit more personal, and relates to another life-jolting event we experienced collectively this year, is the Summer bushfires.

In some unexplained miracle, my parents’ house in Rosedale NSW stands today despite so much of the neighbourhood being decimated by the New Year’s Eve blaze.

The day earlier, my parents and I worked tirelessly fitting sprinklers to the roof, which were turned on as my parents fled. Did this have any impact? Maybe. Probably not. However, it was the comfort that we did our bit in a time that was frightening and unpredictable that gave us a sense of control. A feeling of being part of an effort that was much bigger and worthy. An effort that in reality, is owed to the thousands of firefighters who delivered much braver, more inspirational actions to keep homes and lives safe.

The point being, is that as individuals, we are motivated, and we do care. In the work we do with Qantas, we know that almost 70% of Aussies prefer to buy from companies offering sustainable products because we make the connection between the impact we are having today on the lives of our Bluey-watching kids tomorrow. And this 70% is growing.

So, in a time of such uncertainty and fear, there’s something to be said for the way the majority of people are embracing collective effort for the good of humanity. The same momentum is being applied when it comes to reducing our personal environmental impact, and the businesses we consume from are stepping up to the challenge.

This momentum will not slow down, and if we want to avoid future Summer’s like we just had, it can’t afford to either.

Adrian Enright is General Manager Corporate; passionate about surfing, family and the unrelenting quest for a healthier future planet.