What brings together more than 2,300 people across 90 countries?
The elimination of single-use plastic.
A result of a collaboration between a driven group of volunteers supported by the INSEAD Alumni Association (IAA), and the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, INSEAD’s first-ever Community Impact Challenge engaged participants in reducing or eliminating single-use plastic items for a specific period. While economically cheap and convenient, the cost it imposes on the planet is immense. Half of the 300 million tons of plastic we produce every year is for a single-use purpose. Mostly disposed into the oceans, it results in the suffering, injury and death of marine life, while causing disturbing damage to the ecosystem.
Tackling one of the world’s biggest problem of plastic was no easy feat. Wanting to turn individual actions into a collective movement with global impact, 2,340 INSEAD alumni, students, faculty and staff from 90 countries signed on to be part of the movement.
But how did we do in our efforts to walk the talk?
This challenge was conducted in collaboration with INSEAD and the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society. The analysis was done with the support of BCG.
After the challenge, a whopping 98% of participants made lasting changes to their habits, and should all continue, it would reduce 4.5 tonnes of plastic per year! We must acknowledge at this point that Covid 19 has brought many changes upon our lives and that previously achieved reduction in single-use plastic consumption may have fallen behind for the benefit of health and safety. At times like this the product protection benefits of plastic packaging become more apparent. Plastic reduction strategies adopted in the future will have to reflect this. However the challenge also resulted in an increased awareness about similar environmental problems, with 73% becoming conscious of various other ecological issues. From sharing articles to documentaries, the participants actively engaged with each other throughout the journey in the LinkedIn group. In addition, together the participants managed to influence 180,000 people in their networks in various ways.
While these statistics are encouraging, they were not without a fair share of challenges! Living in a society that makes the avoidance of single-use plastic inaccessible and tedious, it was inevitable to run into some speedbumps. This is where the INSEAD community spirit shone through, with participants actively exploring and sharing possible solutions – from carrying their own water bottle everywhere, making yogurt at home, learning how to create their own beeswax wraps, to using organic shampoo bars and replacing bottles of moisturiser with organic oils. Some became more aware of other detrimental wastage and began keeping track of the weight of trash removed from the household on a weekly basis, in order to monitor progress.
By harnessing the power of INSEAD’s global community, the challenge has managed to turn individual actions into a collective movement with global impact that now has potential to extend the impact into the future. With one challenge down, we are sure the INSEAD community is eagerly awaiting for the next one. Stay tuned to find out, and get ready to participate!
This first INSEAD Community Impact Challenge would not have been made possible without the IAA and the following dedicated group of volunteers. Thank you!