Young Professionals Drive Action on Water

30 Jul 2018 by The Million Metres team Auckland Council Auckland

Today, Auckland is having a detrimental effect on the Hauraki Gulf. Reports have revealed that the Gulf supports 45% less marine life than it did 100 years ago. With the city’s population expected to exceed two million in 15 years, how can we reduce our impact and restore our big blue backyard?

There is no silver bullet solution. The reality is that if we are going to succeed, we need everyone on board. No matter if you’re the CEO or a graduate in your organisation, anyone can influence change.

This is the mind-set that a growing number of young professionals have.

Powered by the Sustainable Business Network, The Now Crowd is a network for young professionals eager to drive change. Members are provided with the tools, resources and support from sustainability experts to help them lead initiatives within their organisation and beyond.

In May The Now Crowd launched it’s ‘Water Sprint’. This involved an eight week programme aimed at helping members in Auckland understand the impact their workplaces have on the Hauraki Gulf.

Sixty young professionals attended a Water Expert Event on Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari’s Boat. Million Metres project Lead Georgina Hart, spoke at the event and became the groups mentor over the eight week programme. Georgina helped participants investigate what their workplaces were currently doing, brainstorm possible solutions and create plans for implementing change.

The programme proved to be successful, with several participants creating big ripples in their workplaces. Below are a few examples.

During the investigation stage one participant discovered that his organisation had grown in scale. This meant changes were needed in the company’s compliance requirements. He has since applied for a Trade Waste Agreement with the Auckland City Council. This agreement significantly reduces the chance of discharge of potentially harmful chemicals and substances into Auckland waterways, and ultimately the Hauraki Gulf.

Heavy metals are toxic to freshwater and marine wildlife. Copper and zinc are key contributors to poor water quality in the Gulf. Most people are unaware that copper is currently used in most vehicle brake pads. It finds its way into waterways when washed off roads by heavy rain. One participant managed to get non-copper brake pads introduced into his company’s code of maintenance.

Reducing plastic consumption was a hot topic during the Sprint. Each piece of plastic produced since the 19th century is still on the planet somewhere. The international campaign, Plastic Free July, was used to raise awareness. One participant managed to introduce a ban on plastic bags and takeaway coffee cups, if staff forget they must donate $2 to charity.

Becoming a project partner of Million Metres was also pitched to managers. One participant is in the process of getting her organisation to become a product donor. If successful, this will mean product sales will help plant thousands of native trees along New Zealand waterways.

Georgina Hart, Million Metres Project Lead said: “It was inspiring to work with so many young people eager to take action on water. Businesses can often overlook water, so it was great to see it come to front of mind. Thanks to members of The Now Crowd!”

If you are under 25 and want to create real impact click here to join The Now Crowd. Or email holly@sustainable.org.nz for to find out more.