Working collaboratively to promote sustainable practice across the legal sector

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  • 26 November 2013 6:04 PM | Anonymous member
    Are people just bloody idiots? Or Should we try something new to change behaviour?
    by Will Turbet
    07 Nov 2013 
    republished from
    This is a guest post by Mark Boulet, manager of the multi-award winning Green Steps program at the Monash Sustainability Institute (MSI). His team is passionate about providing people with practical, hands-on sustainability skills to create change in organisations and the wider community. Mark was recently listed as one of the Top 100 most influential and inspiring people by The Age’s Melbourne Magazine and is a 2011 Australian Davos Connection Leadership Awardee.


    Businessman dunce_newsletter2Have you ever caught yourself secretly wondering if, when it comes to environmental sustainability, the people we work with are just idiots?

    We live in a well-educated society in which information, promotion and awareness of sustainability issues are at an all-time high. And yet lights are not switched off, appliances are left on at the end of the day, even banana peels still appear in the recycling bins.

    Perhaps the problem is that we assume that awareness and information about an issue will automatically lead to environmentally desirable behaviours? I’m sure that you can think of more than one time where your (or someone else’s) knowledge and awareness has not led to the desired behaviour. Most of us accept the science of climate change, yet how many catch the train to work?

    So while information can be important in engaging people and is obviously an important management tool, it may not always be enough to change human behaviour. So what else does?

    • Other people do (click here for Candid Camera example).
    • Your attitudes do.
    • Your emotions do (click here to learn how emotions influence what we buy)
    • Your capacity to carry out the behaviour does.
    • The environment does (click here for the famous fly-on-the-urinal example)
    • Your habits do (click here to listen to world-leading habits researcher Bas Verplanken)

    If we want to encourage a specific behaviour change, then we need to find out more about what might influence that behaviour in the first place. This involves two things:

    1. Clearly defining the behaviour first. Who is target audience? What is the action? What is the target of the behaviour? What is the time and context?  The clearer we are about the desired behaviour, the easier this is to communicate to people and to actually measure any change.
    2. Then we need to go and talk to the target audience about the behaviour. What are the advantages and disadvantages to them performing the behaviour? Who might approve or disapprove? What enables or hinders them in performing the behaviour?

      Talking with (or simply observing) the audience about the desired behaviour seems so simple, yet it is critical in determining what behaviour change tools and strategies we actually use.  It gives us a better chance of understanding what the main influencers of a particular behaviour are and then designing these into our behaviour change program.

      A word of caution! This approach increases the odds of encouraging the behaviours we would like to see, but sadly it is no guaranteed silver bullet. And this is because while we may not actually be idiots, our behaviours, and what influences them, are fluid and ever-changing!

      Thanks, as always, to my colleagues at BehaviourWorks Australia for continuously challenging and up-dating my thinking about behaviour change.

      Re-published, with permission, from Greensense: 

    1. 26 November 2013 5:08 PM | Anonymous member

       Is there any point to KeepCups?
      The Good Food Website published an article by Matt Holden on whether KeepCups were a good idea.

      Here are some facts and figures from that article:
      • Australians have bought 3.5 million KeepCups, diverting 3.5 billion disposable cups from landfill
      • 2.7 million disposable cups are used and wasted every day in Australia. Or  nearly 1 billion a year and 500 billion manufactured world-wide
      • Whether a paper cup can be recycled depends on the proportion of plastic to paper. Research by one of Planet Ark's associates found only 50 per cent of takeaway cups used in shopping centre cafes were suitable for even low-grade recycling.
      • Even cups cups lined with 'biodegradable' plant-derived PLA plastic take decades to breakdown not days.
      • In 1994. Martin Hocking of the University of Victoria in Canada calculated a ceramic cup embodied 14 megajoules of energy, compared with 6.3 for reusable plastic, 5.5 for glass, 0.55 for paper and 0.2 for foam. This means a glass takes 15 uses to break even with paper on the energy budget, and a ceramic cup 39, including the dishwasher energy. But a glass has to be used 393 times to break even with a foam cup, and a ceramic cup more than 1000. 

      Some ideas:
      • If you use a resuable cup once every work day (5 days a week, 48 weeks a year) that is 240 uses.
      • Many cafes offer discounts for reusable cups
      • Ceramic, Keepcups et al are better insulated and keep coffee hotter for faaaaaar longer
      • Encouraging the use of reusable cups helps create change, makes people think.
      • You can also use them for takeaway soup

      From on 26 November 2013

    2. 21 March 2013 10:04 AM | Anonymous member
      Help AusLSA deliver the content you need to be more sustainable

      Working Groups
      AusLSA relies on participation of volunteers to help develop and collate resources that facilitate the sustainability journey for all Members. After all our vision is 'working collaboratively'.

      The following working groups are looking for volunteers and assistance Each group has about 6 members and requires a minimal commitment of approximately 2 - 5 hrs/month.

      We hope that all AusLSA Members will consider how they can participate. 

      The Benchmarking Working Group is responsible for developing the AusLSA Reporting Framework and assisting in the preparation of the AusLSA Environmental Report each year. 

      We have had an excellent team for the past 3 years, but we are looking for fresh ideas and energy.  In the next year we will be developing a assessment process to enhance the rigour of Members' Reports. 


      Procurement strategies are an excellent way for businesses to become more sustainable. Join this new working group to help develop tools to engage with your supply chain such as model procurement policies and draft supplier questionnaires that will help you reduce the impacts (and risks) inherent in buying stuff. 

      Getting people together is a great way of sharing knowledge and expertise. Help AusLSA develop a program of events with content and guest speakers that capture your imagination (and hopefully that of your peers!). 

      Green IT - 
      Power Management Discussion Paper

      One generous AusLSA soul has been busy preparing a discussion paper on best practice power management for IT.

      We would appreciate a few extra generous souls to assist in finalising the paper. 

        Staff Engagement

      The Staff Engagement Working Group is a committee of enthusiastic and dedicated people who collate and produce ideas that promote better engagement on sustainability issues. 

      We always welcome new members with new ideas and new engagement challenges to conquer. 

      We are looking for volunteers with interests in:
      ·  Procurement
      ·  Reporting & Benchmarking
      ·  Events & Networking
      ·  Green IT

      AusLSA aims to deliver content and tools that really promote sustainable practices. Help us lead the development of resources that will help your sustainability program.

      Follow Us!
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      ·  Twitter
      ·  LinkedIn

    3. 18 March 2013 10:37 AM | Anonymous member
      AusLSA launches a new website
      I am very pleased to announce the launch of the new AusLSA website. 

      The website has been designed to promote member interaction, easier access to member resources and 
      streamlined event, member and communication management. 

      Further information about the functionality of the website is detailed below. 


      Member Resources
      The website provides easier access and greater interactivity for members, such as:
      • Easy sharing of case studies with the capacity for others to comment and contribute,
      • A facility to post sustainability questions (and answers) on discussion forums,
      • Sharing working documents between working group members
      • Easy access to the AusLSA library of ideas

      How to login:
      Generate a password here:

      Using your email address:


      Events & Registrations
      A calendar of events details all upcoming AusLSA events, as well as other relevant law and sustainability events. An automated process simplifies registration and provides immediate confirmation, reminders and a appointment for your personal calendar. 


      Membership Administrator

      Each AusLSA Member firm has a designated Membership Administrator. This person will receive membership invoices and is able to grant their colleagues access to the AusLSA website. Emily can advise you of your firm's Membership Administrator, change their identity or perform administrator functions on their behalf. 
        Profile Management

      As a member or a contact of AusLSA you can manage your own profile including privacy settings, subscriptions and contact details. 

      Whilst the development of the new website has been approached with significant attention to detail, the risk of a bug remains. Please let Emily know if you uncover any problems so they can be resolved swiftly.  

      Follow AusLSA!

      ·  Facebook
      ·  Twitter
      ·  LinkedIn
      ·  YouTube

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    4. 10 March 2010 3:14 PM | Anonymous member

      This post originally appeared on

      GreenBiz advances the opportunities at the intersection of business, technology and sustainability. Through its websites, events, peer-to-peer network and research, GreenBiz promotes the potential to drive transformation and accelerate progress — within companies, industries and in the very nature of business.

      Climate change vs. global warming: How to talk sustainability risk

      Language goes a long way to convey the urgency (or lack thereof) associated with climate issues.

      There is growing concern in sustainability circles that efforts to reverse or mitigate the effects of Earth’s changing climate are not gaining momentum fast enough to match mounting risk factors.

      That’s despite over half the general US population saying that they worry "a great deal" to "a fair amount" about our climate, according to a Gallup poll.

      One reason for the disconnect increasingly supported by research: the language we use to describe the problem, which has climate hawks speculating that perhaps the issue could use a name change to something that elicits greater emotion, —and thereby more effectively spurs action.

      Today, "global warming" and "climate change" are used differently and mean different things to different people. In particular, global warming appears to communicate a greater threat and generate a stronger sense of urgency than the seemingly less threatening term climate change.

      While global warming is a bit of a misnomer, a Yale project on Climate Change Communication found that global warming generates stronger feelings of negative effects and stronger perceptions of personal and familial threat, especially among Republicans. Yet, according to Gallup, only 36 percent of Republicans worry about the issue, compared to 49 percent of Independents and 83 percent of Democrats.

      Meanwhile, Yale found that climate change actually reduced issue engagement by Democrats, Independents, liberals and moderates, as well as a variety of subgroups within American society, including men, women, minorities, different generations and across political and partisan lines. For Gallup, the numbers were relatively the same for both terms.

      Upping the urgency

      When analyzing Google searches for global warming and climate change, the latter has been far less commonly used over the past decade.

      The initial preference for global warming could be attributed to the politicization of the term, as well as Al Gore’s release of An Inconvenient Truth.

      More recently, climate change has been gaining currency far more rapidly than global warming, nearly closing the gap in 2014. When looking at more recent year-over-year trends, global warming as a search term has leveled off at roughly 450,000 average monthly searches. Meanwhile, climate change has seen a 48 percent increase in average monthly searches.

      But why has the use the term global warming fallen out of favor? Are there reasons beyond scientific accuracy?

      In a secret memo to George W. Bush prior to the 2002 mid-term elections, Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster and strategist addressed the marketing aspect of this issue when he wrote:

      “It’s time for us to start talking about climate change instead of global warming... climate change is less frightening than global warming. As one focus group participant noted, climate change 'sounds like you’re going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.' While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge."

      While the term climate change is significantly more accurate for describing the situation than the term global warming, it's still not as specific as it could be. John Holdren, the White House Science Adviser, recommended that the topic be called 'global climate disruption.' He feels, and many agree, that this new term will better raise awareness of the true issues at hand.

      The term global climate disruption does, indeed, describe the changes occurring on Earth more accurately and concisely. Across the globe, climates are changing. Temperatures in key areas are rising, precipitation patterns are changing and air circulation patterns are shifting. The change is not restricted to temperature, and it's a true disruption — not just a change.

      Meanwhile, the phrase climate instability has started appearing in media reports about UN climate topics and World Bank forums. Security and economic instability have long been topics that have the ability to garner attention from those with the means to effect change, especially in business. Some believe using words tied to security and instability may get those with power and influence to stop sitting on the sidelines and take action.

      Psychiatrist Dr. H. Steven Moffic surmises we should take a page from television news reports and play off Maslow's hierarchy of psychological needs in which safety needs are second only to biological needs, such as food and sleep.

      “Psychologically speaking, I've long thought that global warming and climate change were terms that were too benign to elicit more concern on the part of the public," he has written. "As time has gone on, and climatologists seem to connect the recent increased intensity of destructive weather events like wildfires, hurricanes, etc. to longer-term climate change, it seemed to me, at least as a psychiatrist, that climate instability might be more evocative."

      Whether we continue calling it 'climate change' or another term, those of us fighting to save the planet from irreversible change have a responsibility to continue to refine our terminology to keep it both accurate and engaging.

      Combating changes to the climate cannot happen until we’ve captured the hearts and minds of a wide variety of populations and demographics.

      At Sustain:Green, we’re doing our part by giving consumers an easy way to reduce their carbon footprint through a MasterCard rewards program of carbon offsets and fund rainforest preservation. Our hope is that by using the card, more people take to heart what’s happening to our planet and feel empowered to take action beyond what credit card they choose to use.

      If, as a global society, we choose to not take responsibility on climate change, catastrophic weather events may force our hand, giving us devastation we cannot ignore, but are too late to reverse. Thankfully, we may still have time to turn back the clock and perhaps we should start with a new term.

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