Rethinking Sustainable in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic.
Being sustainable post Covid-19. What does it mean?
The word "sustainable" is going through a dramatic change in the middle of this pandemic. And we found that it goes far beyond a sustainable brand.
In our last meeting, we started by doing what most of us are doing these days: Overwhelm ourselves with Coronavirus statistics and a round of good old complaining about how the quarantine was affecting each of us.
Just when we were down enough, one of the members of the team said: “I think this is positive, somehow.”
There was a bit of silence when she said it. But when she started describing her view, our jaws went back to their original places.
“A lot of people are staying home, and the levels of industrial activity have gone down. That is making our carbon footprint to lower for the first time in many years. Of course, this is not a sustainable perspective, but we could stick to some of these new habits."
She was right. Many changes in our everyday routine show a positive impact.
Today, John is filling all his excel sheets at home and sending them via e-mail. This is different to his previous routine.
But let’s take a step back to 2020 BC (Before Coronavirus).
John drives 45 minutes in a packed highway, sending three gallons of oil in form of carbon monoxide to the air to get to his office. Once he gets to the building, he spends fifteen more minutes trying to park. Sending some more carbon to the air. Once he gets to his place, he sits down, fills some excel sheets and emails them to his boss, who is sitting sixty feet from him.
This takes place in a 10,000 square feet office, cluttered with people doing the same as John, sneezing next to each other, and getting to meetings that could be emails, or just a Hangout or Skype call.
John is not alone. There are thousands of people who did exactly the same as him, and are now doing it from their homes.
Of course, this was the best we could get in those ancient times where nothing really mattered and non-financial costs seemed irrelevant.
But was it really sustainable?
Amidst all the tragedy this pandemic brought, there are signs that the environment is recovering from human impact. There are many examples in the world where we can see things getting back on track. Whether it is a decrease in air pollution, animals coming back to their areas, or just about people having a healthier way of living their everyday.
Yes, this is such an extreme situation that it cannot be replicated once the quarantine is over. But still, aren’t certain habits useful? Should all the people drive to work every day, each with their own car? Do companies need huge spaces to accommodate everybody, every day? Or, to phrase it in a simpler way: Is our working culture sustainable?
The same applies to other aspects of our lives:
Is the transportation system sustainable?
We see how difficult is for people to get a good attention during a health crisis, when it is most important to manage the demand. Is the health system as we know it sustainable?
Now that you’re spending much more time with your family, couple, friend or yourself, are your relationships sustainable?
Back to our meeting, what started as a self-pity, distressing meeting, ended up being an exciting debate on what needed to be changed.
After using the term “Sustainable” for so long, we realized that we needed to rethink the word and open it to its multiple meanings. Yes, this is making us change our perspective. From our brand, culture, organization up to our personal levels. But isn’t it what this kind of crisis are supposed to bring?
Seems like we all have a good exercise to do for the After Coronavirus Era:
Pam S. —
Loved this message. I hope we all learn lessons from this pandemic.