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Tackling sustainability: think big – start small

Published on: 11-09-2023

The conversation about sustainability and how to tackle it quite often involves talking about the extremes. From “it’s all pointless anyway, the earth is on fire” to the many initiatives and innovations that are being rapidly developed, with the idea that the tide can still be turned. Ingrid van Heerde-Vorenkamp, Sustainability Advisor at ASVZ, a Dutch organisation that supports people with disabilities, says the time for indifference is over. Agreed, but how do we move from indifference to commitment when it comes to the sustainable alternative? Read Vilans Director Rian van de Schoot’s blog.

How do we get from indifference to commitment? By thinking big and acting small, would be my suggestion. And to make it even smaller: what you do about sustainability at home, bring that to work. Everyone is increasingly aware of energy consumption and energy conservation measures at home. Where at home we are looking for ways to be smarter about energy and how to achieve it, it would be good to take up that challenge at work as well. Pay attention to the lights that are always on, the doors that are open. Reduce waste, separate waste: we’re used to doing it at home, so why not at work too? Repair and reuse things: who knows, maybe there’s a resident in the nursing home or disability care organisation where you work who can do something with a broken chair. Or there may be a caregiver or volunteer who enjoys working with residents to run a “repair cafe” to prevent throwing things away. Think twice about the materials you throw away after one use while they are still perfectly fine: would you do the same at home? Ask yourself if it is really necessary to use gloves or other materials every time: can you do it less or differently?

Green surroundings

Many healthcare organisations are in locations that have beautiful outdoor spaces. Look at them through sustainability lenses and make them biodiverse. Often with simple interventions such as mowing the grass differently and planting flowers, you contribute to sustainability and in return, you will see many beautiful flowers and insects. Consider planting trees around buildings to provide shade: it keeps a building cool (saving on air conditioning) and is the most natural way for people to cool off on a hot day. A green living environment contributes to health. Not only for the residents, but also for the people working in care.

And that bench in the shade under that tree may even lead to new encounters and inspiration.

Small drops

The Green Deal Care 3.0 is called: Working Together on Sustainable Care. Together means everyone. Everyone can start doing that today, at home and at work. By paying attention and speaking out. Starting small and thereby making a difference. Because many small drops on a red-hot planet are going to help turn the tide.

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