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Sustainable Action Plan


#Getting Started #Sustainable Action Plan #Sustainable Lifestyle


Alidia Vane

The issues surrounding climate change are now clearly identified in today’s world. Once we have a basic understanding of this it becomes possible to orient actions throughout life with the reduction of emissions and increasing resilience as underlying core principles. As part of our methodology, we recommend creating a personal Sustainable Action Plan (SAP) to guide your work.

Sustainable Action Plans are often created by organizations to identify how they will reach their sustainability goals, just as they would with their other main objectives. Even if you’re not leading or consulting a team (yet) anyone can have a positive impact by developing and implementing their own personal methodology and plan. 

Let’s make the plan today, here’s a guide:

  1. Define Your Goals: Begin by jotting down short, medium, and long-term actions and personal goals that align with your vision of a sustainable lifestyle. If you’re not sure where to start, review various actions and other resources that the 1y4e team have carefully organized in the categories of this website. Include a wide range of items from self-care to community collaborations. Remember to leave space in your planning for flexibility, as new exposures and interactions will arise throughout your sustainability journey.
  1. Immediate Action Items: Identify actions you can take right away to kickstart your sustainability journey at once. Examples include opting out of junk mail, starting a compost bin, using carpools and grouping errands, eating less meat, washing clothes/dishes on cool water settings, unplugging electronics, researching other actions, and even taking time for some nature “bathing”. These quick wins will build momentum for longer-term goals. What can you also do today at school or work if you had to reduce emissions to zero as fast as possible?
  2. Mid-Range Goals: Between the immediate and long-term goals, there are many valuable mid-range items to add in. A mid-range action may be choosing a staycation rather than flying, adding to your garden (or starting one), beginning a monthly volunteering practice, weatherizing your home and installing a smart thermometer, leading a social justice initiative in your school, and more. As you recycle, reduce, and reuse, also watch for savings and/or any changes in your experience on the way to the goal of making zero waste a reality.
  1. Long-Term Goals: Your long-term sustainability goals may include installing solar panels, purchasing an electric vehicle (perhaps powered by your solar panels), organizing a community effort, or similar. Such dreams become reality when we begin by breaking long-term desires down into actionable steps. For example, to install solar panels, you’ll need to first research installers, obtain quotes, assess financing options or rebates, and then set aside a portion of your income for the project. Once key individual steps are known add these to the plan and you’ll already be on your way to making these goals a reality.
    Taking the sustainable vision further, some “ultimate” goals would include establishing shared sustainable values as the norm and setting new baseline standards for all emissions. Aggregate practices, smart regulations, and transparency for every impact both up and downstream can become the “north star” for our global community. This is covered in detail by the UNEP’s “SDGs”. 
  1. Adopt an Organization: An important part of any sustainable methodology is expanding your agency beyond personal actions where possible. When you choose an environmental organization to support with a certain percentage of time and money each year, your efforts can become magnified and are rewarding at the same time. A little energy spent each week or month sharing the message/mission of your “adopted” org with others, signing petitions or sending messages to key leaders, volunteering, making annual donations, etc., and you’ll quickly amplify both your and the organization’s positive impacts.
  1. Track Your Progress: As part of your Sustainable Action Plan, utilize a journal, spreadsheet, or even a dedicated app such as a carbon calculator to monitor your time, effort, and impacts of various actions. Key performance indicators can include money saved and waste reduced (inputs and outputs), biodiversity increased, carbon sequestered, and even your personal assessments of how it is going.
  1. Regularly Review and Adjust: Sustainability is an ongoing commitment, and your action plan should evolve with you. Set aside time to periodically review your plan, adjust in response to life changes, and add new best practices as they become relevant for you. After meeting your initial goals, keep leveling up by challenging yourself to set and achieve more ambitious ones. 

A Sustainable Action Plan requires careful consideration, some research, and a strong commitment. But once you set up a basic framework and get started, this plan will be one of the most powerful tools to aid your sustainability journey. By combining immediate actions and progressing toward long-term goals, providing active support for an organization and your community, you’ll help lead the way to a more resilient future for our planet and all its inhabitants.

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