by Andrew H. Ruhland
For many years, a pitched battle has raged between the forces of mega-capitalism and environmental groups. Since all conflict is intrinsically divisive, most people have been compelled to choose between capitalism and environmental protection. Both sides have acted superior, denying anything insightful that the other side has said, and physical violence and property destruction have even erupted occasionally. War has no winners.
What if there is another approach? From my perspective, the mind and heart are similar to a parachute in that they operate most effectively when they are both open. If you personally decide to not choose one of the sides in this battle, but instead consciously focus on achieving multiple positive outcomes, it becomes obvious thatenvironmental stewardship is smart for everyone, whether you are in business or not.
Overconsumption through wasteful practices is clearly a problem that needs to be solved at all levels. Let’s look at some ways that businesses and individuals can take meaningful actions that make both financial and environmental sense.
Exceptional business coaches, like Chris Niles of BalancePoint Partnersin Millarville, Alberta, know that better decision making results in less waste, greater profits and reduced negative environmental impact. Stress is lowered for everyone, and expensive wasteful mistakes are reduced. Individual coaching styles vary, but the most effective coaches help businesses to accurately identify the core problem or challenge, foster a culture of creativity to generate possible solutions and filter out the noise that overthinking can produce.
While managing individuals’ ego-based attachments to the best ideas (especially when they’re not the boss’s ideas!), effective coaches help leaders think through the full effects of any course of action and make mindful decisions to target their actions to produce the greatest outcomes. This process is the modern version of “measure twice and cut once.”
But what if you’re not a business owner or key decision maker in a large organization? The same concepts apply to both business and the population at large. When your principles are sound, they cannot fight you.
Environmental speaker, author and consultant Claudette Lacombe at Umbel Communications in Calgary is very passionate about nurturing the environmental awareness of both public policy and business decision makers. She’s also clear that each individual who makes environmentally focused changes to lifestyle habits contributes positively to making our resources go further. Claudette’s advice is very succinct, practical and realistic to implement:
- Begin with awareness; notice how much you consume—water, fuel, consumer goods and especially food. Start paying attention to what goes in your garbage and recycling bins.
- Take small steps, starting with the easiest and working your way to bigger ideas. Claudette suggests placing an open one-quart mason jar in the tank of old toilets, actively choosing consumer products with less packaging and using your own permanent water bottle instead of buying disposable plastic.
- Support local organizations that focus on taking action toward change. You can visit the Alberta ENGO Directory (www.aendirectory.ca), which lists non-profit environmental organizations, and pick one to support. Government grants tend to focus on raising awareness, but don’t provide funding to hire the human resources necessary, so these groups appreciate your support to create the action they promote.
Whether or not we’re in business, we are all individual decision makers whose habits collectively determine our communities’ consumption footprints. As we consciously take action in our own lives, we make a meaningful impact on how long the human race can thrive on our living planet. Adding mindfulness to the mix reduces haste—and haste makes waste, right? Environmental stewardship is smart for everyone.
Andrew H. Ruhland, CFP, CIM, is the founder of Integrated Wealth Management in Calgary. The IWM team specializes in helping private wealth creators optimize their overall financial wellness and enjoy the fruits of their labour. For more information, visit http://integratedwealthmanagement.ca.by