Sustainability in your Network
Have you ever wondered what the people in your network know or feel about sustainability? Well, I took the time last year to survey my network on the basics of sustainability. The responses I received were insightful and, in some areas, both predictable and surprising. Let me share with you what I learnt.
I live in Adelaide, South Australia, and I shared this survey with family, friends, colleagues, and my greater network through LinkedIn. The survey consisted of 18 questions and received 82 responses from a variety of age groups and genders. The questions I found to have predictable responses were about people’s knowledge of sustainability. Coming from a background in sustainability and climate policy, I am aware of specific terms, topics, and issues, but I know that some of these areas are not general knowledge. So, the responses on knowledge of sustainability suggested that there may not be enough education or discussion on these topics within my network.
For the question, “what do you know about climate change?”, most respondents answered that they knew an average amount (60%) or only a little (21%). I thought knowledge on this topic would be higher as it is a large point of discussion in sustainability and politics, but for responses to questions on carbon footprint, biodiversity loss, and indigenous sustainability, I was not staggered that the majority of participants were not aware of these issues at all. Other questions included waste and landfill, in which 45% were moderately aware of the issue, and the impacts of diet and travel, with 43% and 45% somewhat aware.
The surprising results were that though people’s knowledge was low, respondents’ overall interest in sustainability was high, with 32% very interested and 20% extremely interested. This also translated in people’s interest to learn about sustainability, with 78% of people stating that they would be interested if information was presented in an easy to learn way. Of the 82 responses, only 2 participants said that they would not be interested to learn at all. Respondents also had an opportunity to provide information on sustainable practices they incorporate in their life, receiving answers about recycling, minimising waste, and reducing plastics, to choosing vegetarian or vegan diets, and shopping locally and consciously.
Putting a percentage to people’s understanding of sustainability may suggest that we are lacking in information or could be a negative indicator of where we are heading, but I think the results of this survey spreads a positive message. We may not know everything about sustainability, but there is a real interest in the topics and a curiosity to learn. Curiosity is the first step, and now that I know people in my network are interested, I can use my knowledge and resources to help them learn about important topics and actions for sustainability. Never forget the power of education!
So, what does sustainability look like in your network?