WRITTEN BY CAMILA DE CONTO
LEG 6 PANAMA TO THE GALAPAGOS WITH TRAVEL EDGE
Maybe one of the most challenging experiences I ever had was introducing a sustainability policy in my workplace, in the Caribbean island of Curacao. Often, we talk about education being a key to solve the plastic issue we are currently facing and for sure, we must include changing adult behaviour in this solution.
During our sailing passage from Panama to the Galapagos Islands we did three different workshops to brainstorm solutions for the plastic problem, to identify our superpower and to prepare our action plan for when we are off of the boat and back in our homes.
Besides sailing a 73ft yacht and doing science out at sea, I think these workshops were probably the most valuable experience I will take home with me.
While engaging in the process of creating a sustainability strategy for my company and introducing new ways to make business, I faced resistance from all layers in the organisation. I shared with the crew the actions that I initiated within my colleagues, and how some of them failed (because it is not a simple task to change old habits from adults), and I learned that my superpower is to be persistent.
And yes, they are right! I am persistent. I did not lose my enthusiasm when I faced resistance. For example, when I introduced a recycling station in my company, I would still find plastic bottles and aluminium cans at the paper bins of my colleague’s desks. I would then take their waste and bring it to the recycling station and remind them about the new sustainability policy we were following. Instead of feeling demotivated, I always took it as a challenge. And I love challenges! In spite of the challenges I faced, I also launched a plastic free challenge and a carpooling campaign. Only one of my co-workers was on board with these campaigns. When the double-sided default printing was set and when we removed the paper bins from people’s desks and implemented only one bin per area, all I heard were complaints. But guess what? I stayed solid with my strategy and little by little – people came around.
Now that we concluded Leg 6 and I am about to leave our SV TravelEdge to go back home, I feel empowered and inspired by the other 13 women with whom I shared the last 10 days. I am ready to continue implementing a sustainability strategy in my workplace. I will not give up.