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Green Education - Initiating Sustained Change

Published about 1 month ago • 5 min read

Personal Note From The Editor

Hey Reader, nice to see you again, how can I help you?

Oh, by delivering on the weekly lesson you say? I hear you!

Luckily, you make my life rather easy because you have a clear idea about what you want and what you need – at least when it comes to sustainability :D

Just like in science, in sustainability it is sometimes much more about asking the right questions instead of having all the answers. After we talked about how to convince colleagues to take the first step two weeks ago, we continue to discuss what it needs to make them take action.

While the lesson two weeks ago focused on talking, this time we approach it from another angle. However, in the end it is all about having empathy for the other person without losing the focus on sustainable action.


Today's Lesson: What It Needs
To Change

Helping Colleagues By Knowing What They Need


Number Of The Day

According to Carnegie Endowment For International Peace there have been 17 climate demonstration with more than 10,000 participants since 2022! Most of them took place in Europe, however, a few were international and connected more than a 100,000 participants.

#17


How To Help Your Colleagues Initiating Change

In essence

The key is to help them until they can help themselves.

Now Imagine

You're having a really great day—the sun is shining on your skin, and you smell the fresh air on your way to work.
Today is the day to help your colleagues become more sustainable!

You might start by asking a colleague if they would be interested in saving some pipette tips in their experiments.

They will happily say, “Yes, of course, if you have some ideas…?”

You thought, ohh this was easier than I thought, no need for discussion or negotiation ...Phhh Patrick was overly concerned in his weekly lessons... Indeed, you have helped them answering their question, but you did not yet help them become more sustainable.

The next day, it is rainy. You arrive late to work because the traffic was a mess.

As you enter the lab, you see that the trash is full of waste...

Your tip was ignored...

In my experience, there are three key levels that will equip you to help your colleagues make lasting change:

Conceptional level

When discussing sustainability, most people will mention the one issue that comes to mind first.

For example, "I need help because I do not know what to do..." but this is only the tip of the iceberg. They don’t think beyond the initial struggle. This is why, even if you solve the first hurdle for them, they will stop at the next.

Thus, identify with them all the challenges that they might face. On a conceptual level, this might involve not completely understanding that sustainability is not only about the environment but also about effectiveness and efficiency—in scientific, economic, and psychological terms.

Secondly, they might simply not have the right grasp of the topic. Therefore, identify opportunities with them.

Referring to our previous lesson, you can just take a walk with everyone who is interested through your building, figuring out what ideas you have based on what equipment/room/experiment you currently see.

But even if they see where footprint occur, what should they do about it?

Technical level

Technical knowledge is crucial, still, it is the most trivial issue for us scientists. We are used to search for solutions or read literature to get acquainted with new solutions. Therefore, let me cut it short.

In case your colleagues are very new to the topic, offer them some overviews -> here are my 2 favorites: Nr.1 & Nr.2

If they simply blank on options for their experiments, provide them with some inspiration. Here are some ideas for Microbiology HPLC Green Chemistry - Biochemistry - Computational Biology - Animal Experiments - HVAC (Administration).

PS: For something else, just ask : )

However, as we discussed previously, simply sending them those will not do the job, unless they have a strong incentive to engage with it.

Thus, if you are already experienced, it can be quite helpful to prompt them with guided questions to opportunities.

But why do you need to prompt them? Can't they do it on their own? No, because the issue it not intelligence but anxiety:

Emotional

Sustainability is not difficult or overly dangerous, but it requires a change of habits.



To adapt habits and initiate change, they must understand two key elements: 1) what they are anxious about, i.e., what holds them back, and 2) what they are passionate about, i.e., what will keep them motivated once they begin.

Help them being precise about the reasons they believe sustainable action is not possible. As long as they are driven by vague feelings, they will struggle to find a solution.

For instance, you might discover that your colleagues are not too afraid of forgetting to close fume hoods but are apprehensive about doing so and potentially annoying a colleague.

Provide colleagues who are struggling with a clear motivator. For example, Principal Investigators can highlight how much money can be saved on materials, while Bachelor students can be informed about the opportunities it will create for learning new skills or joining a new community.

Interestingly, scientists are often reluctant to be the first to change a behavior.

Demonstrate to people that there is a supportive community. It's a team effort!

Ultimately, we tend to adhere to actions that make us feel good. Therefore, framing sustainability as a positive experience is crucial. It's a collective journey towards better health and increased funding for research!

Applying The Knowledge

We feel like scientists but when it comes to changing habits we are

1) Humans - That means, we often seek emotional support more than technical help when faced with uncertainty. Reading papers is not as crucial as having a great colleague.

2) Engineers – we cannot always find the perfect protocol. One needs to craft and test a solution e.g., for a schedule to turn off machines or new ordering procedures. The same counts for convincing colleagues. Therefore, let us find a way to enjoy the trials!

Upcoming Lesson:

Health effects of environmental pollution and climate change


Asking You

There is a “famous” rule about how often someone needs to see or hear your message before buying in. It is the rule of

🫣
7


How We Feel Today


If you have a wish or a question, feel free to reply to this Email.
Otherwise, wish you a beatiful week!
See you again the 16th : )

Find the previous lesson click - here -


Edited by Patrick Penndorf
Connection@ReAdvance.com
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