How to Change a Habit and Change the World

image: The Power of Habit Do you practice eco excellence?   We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~ Aristotle

As it turns out, habits are powerful forces, and companies are using those forces when interacting with customers and employees.  The post, Are Habits More Powerful Than Decisions? Marketers Hope So states "habits, rather than conscious decision-making, can shape as many as 45 percent of the choices we make every day, according to a study [pdf] from Duke University."  (A great read and recommended reading.)

We are all familiar with habits - they are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously, without one directly thinking consciously about them.    In the world of sustainability plans, this unconscious display of habits is a fertile ground of opportunity offering low hanging fruit for eco action.    

The gap between awareness and action may represent the single largest opportunity for global sustainability progress.  The post highlight's a process for habit formation: The Cue, The Reward, The Routine.  Cues trigger an action, a reward reinforces it, a routine develops. Take a look at a great diagram of the three elements to visualize how it works (and how to break it).

As communicated in our sustainability consulting, we view the basic formula as: change your habits= different result.  The trick is to become aware of the areas in your life that have the biggest environmental impact, and then take inspired action to create new habits.   Sounds easy, but how do you do that? 

First, what are your current habits telling you?  Where is your biggest environmental impact?  Next, create new habits.  Following are 4 areas of eco action to help get you started. 

  • Vehicle Fuel Consumption: The most significant area of personal impact and one that is well within your sphere of influence.  Sustainable actions directly aligned with personal savings include: alternative fuel transportation, fuel efficiency and personal reduction (commuting, ride share, alternative transportation).
  • Electricity Consumption: By switching to wind or renewable sources, the average family could save the equivalent to thousands of miles driven in a car.  Sustainable actions include: source control (wind, renewable, offsets), home efficiency (energy star appliances), and personal energy management.
  • Water Consumption: Clear fresh water is rapidly becoming an endangered resource in even the most developed countries.  Sustainable actions directly aligned with personal savings include: water management (personal use and outdoor watering) and waste water management (controlling what goes down the drain and into the storm drains).  
  • Waste Disposal: A large portion of what goes into the average garbage is recyclable.  By separating your plastics, glass, and paper, the weekly volume sent to the landfill could be cut by more than half.  Sustainable actions include: inquiring about recycling programs with traditional collectors and locating recycling centers in your area.

Discovering hidden treasures in your daily habits begins by becoming conscious of your cues, rewards, and routines as well as creating new habits and eco actions you take.  Change your habits and watch your world unfold differently. Remember, every eco action adds up.  Your eco actions matter.  Together, we can all make positive change in our world. 

 

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