Opinion: climate change – we don’t need a few doing things perfectly, we need millions doing things imperfectly.


"When it comes to the climate crisis, we are aware that in order to affect real and impactful change, we must have an all-in, genuine commitment from the larger corporate organisations, our governments and leaders. We cannot continue on this journey, unless we have solid and dedicated and strong drivers of change at the wheel. We must and we will maintain pressure on these to deliver.

However, with a world population quickly approaching 8 billion, we must do whatever we can to get engagement from as many of that number as we can. ‘Better done than perfect’, is an expression that I sometimes have difficulty with, as it seems to suggest that it is okay to ‘half do’ something.

But in this instance, I think it carries far more weight and our headline statement is an example of that.

One of the greatest problems surrounding the state of our environment, is how ‘Climate Change’ is communicated in the mainstream, to the general public.

Two things are happening here. Firstly, the narrative surrounding Climate Change is negative.

That is because the story is a negative one. We all understand that and realise that we cannot change the story thus far. But unfortunately, as people, we are not that keen on hearing bad news. Images flood our big and small screens every day about hurricane and storm disasters, forests being decimated, polar bears clinging to that last tiny piece of ice, baby seals being trapped in plastic ….
The images are difficult to watch, but still, these stories need to be told.

However, for many of us, as we watch these pictures and stories unfold while we sit at home, they don’t really resonate past ‘God, that’s awful!’. And of course, that is a totally natural reaction about something that is going on somewhere else, somewhere far away.

So, when new stories like these are presented to us, more and more frequently, we tend to turn away and switch off. Not the intention of the media source, but a natural reaction none the less.

Secondly, people cannot see how they can help the situation. The challenge seems too big, too global and we feel it is a job for our leaders, our governments and the large corporates.

I am one person – what can I do to change the planet’s destiny?

Changing the narrative is key. If people feel that doing one small thing will help… we believe they will do it.

So, we want to encourage people to #DoOneThing. Start there and if that’s all you ever do, then you will have done more than nothing. This is something we have been communicating for couple of years now and what we hear from our audience at www.wasted.ie, is that once they saw how easy that One Thing was to do, they started to do more.

This is the reaction we are really aiming for!

I met a friend recently, who I have never seen without a takeaway coffee in her hand. And as we ordered a coffee that morning, she pulled a Keep Cup out of her handbag (yes, I know most of us have Keep Cups by now, but this was a surprise here). When I asked about it… ‘Oh, the pressure from the girls in office got too much’ she told me laughing, as we both knew that this headstrong director of an advertising agency wouldn’t ever feel pressurised into anything!

But she went on to say that it became a joke in the office (even during Zoom calls) that she was somehow afraid of keep cups…

"So, I went out and bought myself one and thought…..well, this isn’t so hard!”

Yes, this is a very simple example, but this is how and where examples are set. They are set by your peers, your colleagues, your friends and thankfully, by your kids! Ordinary people need to be encouraged and rewarded (even if this is just through their peers) for doing something positive, however small it is.

Maybe today, a decision is made not to buy a plastic bottle of water with lunch, or not to buy those vegetables wrapped in plastic in the supermarket, or to put a recycling bin in the canteen in the office.

Note: I’m sure there are many of you that disagree with me and feel that we all need to totally change our way of living. Perhaps you are right, but this message just has not worked so far.

We may not change the trajectory of the planet’s global warming by cutting back on plastic bottles alone, but this ultimately, is not about that.

It’s about educating as many people as we can that one small step will make a difference, if we ALL do it, one small step becomes two steps forward and so on. (Imagine if everyone in your local Tesco stopped buying plastic bottles. Would Tesco continue to stock them or would they look to suppliers of more eco-friendly alternatives?)

By changing how we communicate about more sustainable choices, we believe we can change people behaviour by making them feel good about making that choice. People want to help. We just need to show them that it is not that hard.

In the meantime, please don’t engage in shaming people about the choices they make. It’s not nice and it just makes them feel bad. Just show them your shine-y, super cool Keep Cup instead!

In summary, I would like to invite you to #DoOneThing today and see how you get on. If it makes you feel good, try something else tomorrow. If it makes you feel really good, encourage a friend to do the same."

Find more information & articles about living a more sustainable lifestyle on www.wasted.ie






Mary O’Sullivan – CEO, www.wasted.ie