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Women in business making a difference to climate change

20 March 2015

Istanbul under snow

Following on from some very unusual and often devastating weather incidents - freezing weather in Turkey, where Istanbul (picture above, January 2015) experienced it’s coldest days since 1963 this year, and more recently, the damage caused by category 5 Cyclone Pam in the Pacific - Ruby realises when governments won’t make the necessary calls to mitigate climate change it comes down to people like us to make the difference.

Sound too tough – not according to Ruby contributors like Lauren Anderson and Natalie Isaacs, nor is it a drudge.

Lauren Anderson is Chief Knowledge Office, Collaborative Lab. She is a leading source of strategic knowledge for global entrepreneurs, journalists, and venture capitalists who want the latest market insights and best practices to stay ahead of the curve on new goods and services in the market.

“How can we harness the powerful technologies at our fingertips to ramp up the effectiveness of our lifestyles, while also helping us to make more economical or environmentally friendly choices, and perhaps even a few new friends along the way?

“One solution lies in a growing socio-economic movement sweeping the world, helping us to define not just what, but how, we consume. We call this shift collaborative consumption.

“Take the example of cars, which have long been a part of modern society, and the purchase of which has become a rite of passage for many young adults. Despite the fact that it costs more than $7000 per year to own and maintain, the average car sits idle up to 23 hours per day in a parking space, driveway or even on the street – not very efficient use of one of our most expensive possessions! This doesn’t even take into account the fact that our roads are congested, our air polluted and our lifestyles unhealthy. Car-sharing services such as GoGet Car Share and Hertz On Demand aim to address these challenges by providing a shared fleet of vehicles parked around city areas, which members of the service can book by the hour and return when they are done.

“It is estimated that for every car-sharing vehicle on the road, between 10-15 privately owned vehicles are taken off the road. Even more interestingly, car-sharing members actually drive less, as they think twice about whether they need to use the car before booking. All this leads to fewer cars on the road, healthier drivers and, importantly, cars that are being used to their maximum capacity by being shared.

“Whether redistributing unwanted items to a better home, providing access to, rather than ownership of, expensive or infrequently used goods to maximise their usefulness, or tapping into underutilised skills or space (finding a tradie for your home maintenance job or using ‘airbnb’ style sites) and making them available for the benefit of others, collaborative consumption is emerging in all parts of our lives and leveraging the idling capacity of our possessions and assets. We can see examples of what’s possible taking off all around the world, but believe there is even greater opportunity up ahead. So what are you willing to share?”

Natalie Isaacs runs 1million women, is a climate change activist and as she says: understands that the campaign won't save the Planet but, “it's a part of a greater mix of things that need to happen if we are to save the Planet.

“I believe you need to make things personal. The bigger something is the harder it is to get your head around, and that leads to disengagement and inaction. The campaign message is about realising it is about 'me and my family', about being in control of what I can do on a day-to-day level. It allows you to qualify and quantify what you do for the environment, making it part of your life and not some divorced concept too huge to handle.

“There's something incredibly powerful about women joining forces to fight causes. We've had enough experience. As we grow as a movement I know these women will want to stay involved because they're a part of something important and special and they own it.

“It is the same when it comes to financial literacy. I mean I am no accountant but you have to take control and be part of the process.”

Natalie's belief in the power of women (they make about 70 per cent of consumer decisions around the home and form 53 per cent of the electorate), has led her to view this as a market with incredible influence.

“One thing I learned in business is you have to be committed to a direction. It's easy to be seduced by another because there's maybe a quick buck to be made or something. You can’t take your eye off the ball if you do it’s a lesson learned.”

*(Why not start with something like Earth Hour? The site has great tips for all year long.)