I am as guilty as most of you: in my lifetime I have likely created an actual (hopefully small) mountain’s worth of unrecycled waste. Blame it on ignorance, convenience or wilful self-indulgence, at the end of the day, I have contributed greatly to the woes of our environment. And so have you.
While in the past it was easy to blame the powers that be for causing our environmental degradation — big industries, lax laws, lack of public recycling facilities, bad education and such — in today’s world of free access to information, we are all thoroughly aware of the great damage we do to the environment and it simply isn’t enough anymore to claim ignorance…or act it. We have covered many stories, over the past year especially, about efforts being made by both the private and public sectors to curb wonton waste. The mayor has been campaigning for plastic-free markets, local business owners are setting up waste recycling social enterprises, landfills have invested huge in recycling plants, and many many businesses today proudly announce their plastic-free policies. These are all wonderful things, and not to poo-poo their efforts, more needs to be done. And by all of us. If I were to be cynical (and I really try not to be!) many business campaigns are merely marketing tricks, hitching a ride on the trendy green bandwagon for maximum positive exposure.
A business that bans the use of plastic bags one day a week gleefully hands them out like candy the other six days; a restaurant that says they no longer use plastic straws, seals their sandwiches in cling wrap; and a chain convenience store renowned for its will-nilly use of plastic bags has just announced that they will be continuing their supposed decade-long efforts to fight the use of plastic — the marketing gimmicks have got so ridiculous that one business which is well known for having not used plastic bags for years, just posted that they would begin to ban its use!
Citylife too has been guilty of benefiting from marketing our love of the environment. We were the first company in the north of Thailand to go carbon neutral in 2008 (see what I just did there?), announcing our quarter of a million baht investment to great fanfare (oops, I did it again), but since then our magazines continue to be wrapped in plastic as they are sent to our monthly subscribers. Well, no more. So many campaigns, so little impact. While it is easy to point fingers, at the end of the day, we need to start pointing inwards. We can blame businesses for handing out plastic bags, but unless we consistently say no to them, these businesses will not stop providing them. And of course it’s not easy to always say no; plastic has insinuated itself into nearly every part of our consumer lifestyle. But if enough of us say no enough times, surely the message will be taken up. According to many sources working to reduce the use of plastic, resistance comes from the sellers, not the consumers. Once a place of business bans plastic, consumers tend to fall in line. So, rather than wait for it to happen, let’s make it happen.
I think that it is up to us to hold these businesses accountable. Say no, write to them, send them a Facebook message, talk to the owners and management, offer them alternatives and simply resist the urge to conveniently wave away our responsibility by facing it and taking it on. I am but one in seven billion, but I will continue to work at being more responsible, more aware, because whether or not I make an impact, I simply can’t live with myself anymore if I am a contributor to the demise of our beautiful environment. Who is willing to take these (baby) steps with me?
Citylife this month: Following my December editorial about the huge changes happening at Citylife, I am glad to offer you a wee update. We are expanding and we are excited! My two new business partners have stepped in and they will be focusing on management and marketing, freeing me to do what I love, and that’s talking to people and writing about what’s happening in our fair city. We have also been overhauling our website (15,000 pages indexed by Google and 1.8 million images!) which is a Herculean task, but we’re up to it. This will mean that soon your business can be prominently featured on various sections of the site and you can see which pages are best to drive business to your site and improve your SEO. We have new staff and new sales executives and they are already out introducing themselves to businesses around town and telling them of all the things we can do. Basically we are not just a magazine which happens to have a website. We have been doing so much more and providing so many other services for years, we are just now ready to orchestrate it all and show off about it! So, we shall be offering complete media and marketing services to clients from massive established corporations to small startups. Advertising, events, social media management, content, photography, print management, brand building, media relations, PR…the list goes on. If you want your business to grow, give us a call. Our team will sit down with you and help you develop a strategy…freeing up my time to go snooping around town and finding all sorts of great stories to share with you. Win win bleedin’ win!