Management Assistants - taking action for our planet!

Published: 2019-06-26

Since the United Nation's climate change report was presented in 2018, many of us woke up to the terrible realization of what is happening to our planet. Climate change is an urgent & devastating threat, and we cannot wait any longer to take action. As an individual, you can feel powerless to stop this chain effect, but doing something is better than doing nothing. One person who took action is Greta Thunberg. A Swedish teenager that turned a personal climate strike outside of the Swedish parliament into a global movement, and who is now travelling Europe (by train!) to speak to the world leaders and holding them accountable. Greta is a testament to what a single human being can do. Someone's personal commitment and individual action can make a difference and inspire others
How many Management Assistants are there in the world? I don't know, but it must be millions. What would happen if we all decided to work against climate change and started to make environmentally-friendly purchases? There are large Assistant organizations, networks and  forums around the Globe - for example International Management Assistants (IMA) and  World Administrators' Summit  where we can unite, form a sustainability mission and set up guidelines to steer our actions.
As Management Assistants, we are leaders and we are buyers. We are often members of our management teams, and we affect purchase decisions, internal communication and policies every day. We arrange events and travels, we run projects, we order food and beverages, we purchase various things that are packed and distributed in various ways. If all of us would start to order less meat and dairy products, replace suppliers that use plastic, print less, increase train bookings instead of flights, it would make a difference.
Plastic items (microplastics) are ruining our oceans and harming marine life, fish and shellfish. What purchases are you making today where you could find other options? Does your office recycle? Does your organization have a sustainability policy? Does your company (or airline/travel agent) compensate for carbon dioxide emissions? See what you can do to reduce the negative climate impact at your workplace. 
In January 2019 EAT, together with The Lancet, presented the first scientific report  on food and climate impact. The report advocates a flexitarian diet, meaning a largely plant-based diet that allows for a small amount of fish, meat and dairy. We don't need to be vegans, but we need to change our diet radically. “Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on Earth.” You can find a useful guide on this topic here
Start looking for tasty vegan or vegetarian options for your events and meetings. Could you maybe present the food in another way on the menu to make it more appealing even to skeptical meat loving men?  Try making meat an additional option, something you chose rather than the standard. Nudging  is a good technique to use to inspire people to make the right choices for the environment, health and equality. 
Companies which do not take responsibility for the survival of our planet will have a problem attracting the conscious and purpose-driven Millennials. “While the older generations want more profit, millennials are shifting their business goal to social impact.”  
It starts with awareness, mindset and a sense of urgency. As Management Assistants we can start making conscious decisions in our daily choices in order to reduce the negative climate impact. If all of us start to put climate change on the agenda, it will make a difference and inspire others. Let's be leaders, innovators and good role models for sustainability. We are doers, solutions-oriented and through our large networks we can share ideas and inspire each other to make good initiatives happen!

Author: Sofie Koark, Executive Assistant, Academic Work and Training Officer, IMA Sweden 

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