We’ve probably all been there: we see a public announcement about a new waste reduction initiative and think “Okay, cool, but that’s not enough”. It’s easy to feel conflicted: yes, progress is nice, but this project seems insignificant.
Case in point: the recent announcement by the federal government on banning and restricting a few types of single use plastics. I want to remind all of us that it is okay to feel these two things at the same time. Yes, it’s a move in the right direction, and yes, it’s not enough to solve the plastic crisis. I would argue that businesses, and in this example, the government, need to know that you feel both of those things. If you only offer praise they might stop there, but if you only criticize, they might be discouraged and give up.
Thinking specifically about small businesses, they’re often run by just one or two people, oftentimes trying really hard to run a successful business while also focusing on ethics and sustainability. If they receive mostly negative feedback from trying to reduce their waste, it might turn them away from trying more things.
Think about how you like to receive feedback. What would keep you motivated to move forward? If you know of something cool that another business is doing, suggest that! If you have an idea that they could try, mention it!
They need to know both that it’s great to focus on waste reduction and that they need to keep going. Waste reduction isn’t one action and then you tick a box and say “I did it!” It’s a lot of small and big changes that will take time and collaboration and we’re unfortunately nowhere near being able to cross waste reduction off our to do lists.
This might be a controversial opinion, but I don’t usually care why a business is doing “the right thing” when it comes to waste reduction. If it’s all a big PR stunt and they only care how they’re perceived by the public, as long as it's an actual change, I’m still happy it’s happening. If the public can communicate that we’re happy waste reduction is on their minds while in the same breath letting them know that they need to do more, then (hopefully) they’ll get the hint and keep going.