Can the sustainability efforts of one small business make a dent in the climate crisis?

The tops of two mason jars. On the left, clean water flows from a tap into one of the jars. The other jar is full of clean water.

Some folks believe they can’t make a difference when it comes to climate change. That their sustainability efforts are for nothing. I believe otherwise.

Can the sustainability efforts of one small business make a dent in the climate crisis?

By Deb Day, CEO and Chief Strategist, Innovate By Day

I know many folks who think they can’t make a difference regarding climate change. They believe that their contributions are so small and insignificant that they can’t really make an impact. I believe otherwise. I believe we all have a role to play in improving our sustainability practices for our world.

I found this recent TED Talk by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson inspiring. Her thoughts on what individuals can do to make a difference were invigorating. And I wanted to reflect on some ways our business is taking action against climate change.

Innovate By Day formalized our Environmental Policy in 2021, but we were working toward a sustainable office in practice long before that. Here’s some of what we’ve done in the past and what we’re doing right now, to minimize our company’s environmental footprint wherever and whenever we can.

How is Innovate By Day minimizing our environmental footprint?

Much of our office was outfitted with furniture that you may have seen before -- on your favourite Canadian TV shows. We have repurposed furniture and other items by buying from television production companies at “set sales.” After a show has completed filming, the producers sell off items that were purchased for set decoration and are no longer needed. We’ve had furniture in our offices from Rookie Blue, Remedy, and Shoot The Messenger (to name a few). I like to think of our look as funky, eclectic, and improvised. When a piece of furniture has outlived its time with us, it often finds its way to yet another use; some favourites have even gone home with staff members.

What we’re doing every day: we have timers on our furnace and air conditioning; we turn lights off when they’re not needed; we compost and recycle all that we can; and we only print documents if a hard copy is absolutely required. We encourage everyone (staff and visitors) to bring reusable water bottles: our office is a bottled water free zone. Our production team has completed the Ontario Green Screen Climate and Sustainable Production Training offered by Ontario Creates to ensure we follow best practices to reduce our carbon footprint on video productions.

As a small business, we have felt the impact of the pandemic. Rising costs, supply chain disruptions, and logistics have prevented us from making some of the physical changes we would like for our offices (for example, replacing the existing natural gas furnace and air conditioning systems with a more efficient heat pump system). But we are doing what we can, bit by bit.

We have upgraded the building’s second-and-third-storey windows to triple pane glass, with screens so that we can open them for a cooling breeze rather than crank up the air conditioning. We’re in the process of getting our building’s storefront windows and doors replaced and upgraded from their 1970s origins, which will reduce our heating and cooling needs and will provide a better sound barrier for filming in-house. We have also added a transom window to the main level for improved airflow, which will be healthier for the team.

My hope is that our practices in the workplace positively influence the team’s practices in their personal lives. We’re not all going to become climate change activists overnight: change is a process, not an event. I also know that I have a team of lifelong learners, and I welcome their input as we continue to learn, improve, and grow.

Do you want to make an impact on climate and the environment? Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s Climate Action Venn Template can help you make a difference in a way that is sustainable, doable, and brings you joy (“There is so much work to be done. Please, do not choose something that makes you miserable.”) At the intersection of what needs to be done, what you are good at, and what brings you joy, is the thing (or things) that you can do to make an impact and feel fulfilled doing it. Watch Dr. Johnson’s TED talk and download the Venn Diagram template from Climate Action Venn Diagrams — Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you and those around you approach the climate crisis. Please give me your best tips (or the results of YOUR Venn Diagram) in the comments.


Deb Day is Innovate By Day’s Founder, CEO & Chief Strategist. She has long been a champion of sustainable practices at Innovate By Day.

Photo by Kier In Sight on Unsplash

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