It’s Earth Day! 7 Small Ways YOU Can Make A Big Difference

Happy Earth Day everyone!

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I’m not going to lecture you about the state of our planet, I think we all know it deserves better than what we have given it. In only a few thousand years of earth’s billion-year history, humans have managed to acidify the oceans, punch holes into the ozone, destroy over 50% of the rainforests and push all other living creatures to the brink of extinction with species going extinct at a 1000 times the normal rate… Sorry, I did say no lecture!

The amazing thing is, despite the doom and gloom, there are a million little things that we can all do to make a difference.

Whilst it can sometimes seem hopeless, history shows us over and over again that humanity is capable of amazing change. Not long ago smoking in the workplace was considered a norm, now could you imagine going into a meeting and everyone lighting up a cigarette? If we can drive such a change on a global scale, and in such a short space of time, then there is hope yet.

An incredible film aired last year called Racing Extinction. Directed by Oscar®-winning director Louie Psihoyos (THE COVE), the film pulls into focus our impact on the planet while all the time trying to inspire the viewer to embrace the solutions that will ensure a thriving, biodiverse world for future generation.

It was truthfully one of the most inspirational films I saw all year and it’s really more of a movement than a film. I even had the good fortune of being able to spend an evening with both Louie and rock legend, Brian May at the UK premiere and hear their views on how we can reverse all that we have done.

The film shares an amazing story of a little girl on the seashore, throwing stranded starfish back into the water before they die in the heat of the midday sun. An old man comes over to her laughing and, mocking her, he says “little girl, why are you doing that? There is no way you can possibly save all these starfish in time!” To which she defiantly replies, throwing in another starfish “well, I saved that one, and that one and now this one…”

The film teaches us a simple message:

It’s better to light one candle than curse the darkness

– Shawn Heinrichs, Racing Extinction

So what can be done?

Here is a list of simple little things, which are so easy to do but make a bigger difference than you might think:

  1. Turn Off/ Unplug Everything When Not In Use – you’d be surprised at how much energy things on ‘standby’ use. You may even save some money on your electricity bill.
  2. Give Nature A Home – An RSPB initiative that I love – whether you have acres of land or simply a windowbox there is plenty you can do to encourage nature… my current favourite is the idea of making a butterfly banquet on your balcony during the long summer days.
  3. Eat Less Meat – the agriculture industry is responsible for 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. If you can’t bear the idea of going vegetarian, try to do a meat free Monday and avoid Beef, the worst offender, as much as possible.
  4. Support Sustainable Fishing – 90% of the world’s fisheries are fully fished or overfished and this is having a devastating effect on the ocean life and in turn the oceans. Our oceans play such a vital role that without them the whole ecosystem would be completely out of balance. By only choosing fish that has been sustainably sourced you will help break the cycle – Fish2Fork can help you make more informed choices.
  5. Choose A More Eco Way To Commute – Can you share a car with someone? Or get the train? Maybe you live close enough to cycle in? Even by taking one car off the road you could be saving over 8000 pounds of C02 every year!
  6. Offset Your Carbon Footprint With An Eco Charity – As a tree matures, it can consume 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. Why not calculate your carbon footprint and try to become carbon neutral by working with a charity that plants trees with your donations. One Tree Planted is just one of these great charities that are working to rebuild our earth’s forests.
  7. Eat Seasonally And Locally – Because who really needs strawberries in December?

Even if you just choose to do one of these, you will have joined a global movement that cares about the future of our planet… Because do you really want to live in a world where your grandchildren don’t know what an Elephant is?

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Be A More Balanced Leader

So, after three weeks of puppy madness I am finally getting back into the swing of things and able to post again (visit my Instagram for puppy pics of unbearable cuteness!).

Not long ago I attended a Balanced Leadership workshop with Michele Mees, author of The Balanced Leader and Key Note speaker, as part of International Women’s Day 2016 and my first Pledge For Parity action.

Here Michelle’s introduced the group to the idea that everyone has feminine and masculine energies that mould our traits and characteristics.

So, whilst some people enjoy taking take risks (a masculine energy) others prefer to act more cautiously (feminine energy).

Just to clarify – Michele stressed that everyone, be them man or woman, has a mixture of both masculine and feminine energies that make up the diversity of their characteristics and in no way is one or the other right or wrong.

Apparently, to be a balanced leader you must first identify which traits and qualities you have and then develop the ability to adjust according to the situation and environment.

If I am honest, talking about masculine and feminine ‘energies’, to me, seems to be the opposite of maintaining gender neutrality however the session did throw up some interesting points and as a result I wanted to share my top tips on how to become a more balanced leader:

  1. Don’t fear change – Empower your staff to take calculated risks. Caution, whilst prudent in some situations is not always the best way. Sometimes it is good to challenge the status quo slightly, remember, great things never came from comfort zones.
  2. Trust your gut– Always making a decision based on facts and figures can often create a false sense of security. Make sure you don’t always ignore and exclude the perspective of people who bring ‘gut feeling’ to the table, their input is just as valuable.
  3. Long-term planning – A long-term vision often mobilizes and inspires people. Whilst the quick-wins might deliver today, you need to always try to consider the log-term effects as well.
  4. Focus on everyone – Don’t always just focus on yourself or on your own department. To be a balanced leader you need to promote a collaborative, connected environment for your team as well as the colleagues in your wider circle.
  5. Don’t always avoid confrontation –This can be a contentious topic, however constructive confrontation is healthy. Empower your team to think for themselves and don’t just promote a ‘yes’ culture which seems to be fine on the surface but hides unresolved conflicts as a result.

Have I left anything out? Let me know what you think makes a balanced leader!

If you want to learn more about Michele and her research please visit The Centre for Balanced Leadership.