The International Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report yesterday. If you have sustainability people in your life — and I include anyone focused on the environment, social justice, or any form of public health under that umbrella — you might have noticed that most of us spent the day curled up in the fetal position. We knew it would be bad. And guess what? It’s even worse than we expected.

And of course, the bad is what’s getting the headlines, which amount to “The IPCC report says that we’re &@#$%*.” And unfortunately, we are. Sort of. But they’re not focusing on what matters. The important message is that we need to take action. All of us.

Our individual choices don’t matter as much as large organizational choices or governmental choices. Less focus on plastic straws, more focus on fossil fuels, renewable energy, and consuming less.

Taking action

What can my friends in communications and content-related fields do?

  • Get involved with your organization’s sustainability/ESG reporting. Transparency improves business practices.
  • Use plain language. Plain language improves readability, translation, and comprehension. As an added bonus, it also reduces the carbon footprint of your copy.
  • Use content wisely. Does this need to be an energy-intensive video? Does this stock photo add anything? How can we streamline and simplify?
  • Audit your content. Purge the redundant, outdated, and trivial (ROT) in your digital archives.
  • Use email wisely. Don’t email customers daily. No one wants (or needs) that.
  • Hide your face. No, seriously. Video meetings are extremely resource intensive. Use video to establish rapport at the start of the meeting, and then go dark.
  • Less can be more. Find ways to improve content, not just add to it.
  • Vote. This isn’t content-specific, but it’s important. Will this candidate enact policies that will improve or degrade the environment in the next 2/4/6 years? Vote accordingly.

Your actions can make a difference. If we take anything away from the IPCC report, it’s that we all need to act now.

Want to learn more about sustainability?

I earned a professional certificate in sustainability strategy from Arizona State University, the world’s higher education leader in sustainability. The Sustainability Opportunity is a professional certificate program designed for working professionals. It covers a lot, including:

  • How to leverage storytelling to communicate about sustainability initiatives
  • Building a rock-solid business case and return on investment argument
  • How to translate the broader global sustainability context into your organizational situation right now

Learn more at https://schoolofsustainability.asu.edu/opportunity/ and email sustainabilityskills@asu.edu for special discounts. Tell them I referred you.

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