The Climate Conscious Podcast

Sustainability Applied with Anna Chashchyna

October 14, 2020 Derval Barzey / Anna Chashchyna Season 2 Episode 12
The Climate Conscious Podcast
Sustainability Applied with Anna Chashchyna
Chapters
The Climate Conscious Podcast
Sustainability Applied with Anna Chashchyna
Oct 14, 2020 Season 2 Episode 12
Derval Barzey / Anna Chashchyna

On this episode of the Climate Conscious Podcast we discuss with Anna Chashchyna her interesting and inspiring journey to becoming a sustainability consultant, helping businesses operate in a sustainable manner, reduce costs, and effectively manage their environmental and social risks. Anna is also an environmentalist, keynote speaker and host of the podcast Sustainability Explored. 

After studying abroad, and facing the lack of employment opportunities in her chosen profession, she returned to Ukraine and launched her career in Sustainability. Initially she worked with a local bank developing their environmental and social management systems, before becoming an entrepreneur as an independent sustainability consultant.  

She shares the lessons learned from persevering through the lack of demand for professionals in the environmental sustainability field. In the moment facing rejection seems like the end of the world but in retrospect you realise how the negative experience leads you to the right place. 

Working in the field of sustainability, not everyone sees it value. Anna focuses her energy on those who recognise the importance of the environment and positive social impact.  

Her advice to aspiring Sustainability Professionals: 

  • Find your tribe that will provide emotional support along the journey
  • Be consistent and don't expect fast results. The compounding effect of consistent efforts will pay off. 
  • Develop the skill of effective and respectful communication. 


Anna also shares the important considerations for managing environmental and social impacts of renewable energy projects.  In the case of solar PV it is critical to consider the project life cycle, particularly the end of life of the pv panels.


 
Resources mentioned - 'The Checklist Manifesto' by Atul Gawande https://www.amazon.com/Checklist-Manifesto-How-Things-Right/dp/0312430000


Contact Anna:

Website: http://annachashchyna.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annachashchyna/ & https://www.linkedin.com/company/sustainability-explored/
Fb group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sustainabilityexplored/
Medium: https://medium.com/@SustainabilityExplored


Stay connected with The Climate Conscious Podcast:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theclimateconscious
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theclimateconscious/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tcconscious1

Email: [email protected]

Support the podcast: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/tccpodcast


Thank you for listening!





 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Uk9D30o)

Show Notes Transcript

On this episode of the Climate Conscious Podcast we discuss with Anna Chashchyna her interesting and inspiring journey to becoming a sustainability consultant, helping businesses operate in a sustainable manner, reduce costs, and effectively manage their environmental and social risks. Anna is also an environmentalist, keynote speaker and host of the podcast Sustainability Explored. 

After studying abroad, and facing the lack of employment opportunities in her chosen profession, she returned to Ukraine and launched her career in Sustainability. Initially she worked with a local bank developing their environmental and social management systems, before becoming an entrepreneur as an independent sustainability consultant.  

She shares the lessons learned from persevering through the lack of demand for professionals in the environmental sustainability field. In the moment facing rejection seems like the end of the world but in retrospect you realise how the negative experience leads you to the right place. 

Working in the field of sustainability, not everyone sees it value. Anna focuses her energy on those who recognise the importance of the environment and positive social impact.  

Her advice to aspiring Sustainability Professionals: 

  • Find your tribe that will provide emotional support along the journey
  • Be consistent and don't expect fast results. The compounding effect of consistent efforts will pay off. 
  • Develop the skill of effective and respectful communication. 


Anna also shares the important considerations for managing environmental and social impacts of renewable energy projects.  In the case of solar PV it is critical to consider the project life cycle, particularly the end of life of the pv panels.


 
Resources mentioned - 'The Checklist Manifesto' by Atul Gawande https://www.amazon.com/Checklist-Manifesto-How-Things-Right/dp/0312430000


Contact Anna:

Website: http://annachashchyna.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annachashchyna/ & https://www.linkedin.com/company/sustainability-explored/
Fb group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sustainabilityexplored/
Medium: https://medium.com/@SustainabilityExplored


Stay connected with The Climate Conscious Podcast:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theclimateconscious
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theclimateconscious/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tcconscious1

Email: [email protected]

Support the podcast: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/tccpodcast


Thank you for listening!





 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Uk9D30o)

Derval Barzey: 

Hello and welcome to the climate conscious podcast, a podcast for people who care about environmental sustainability, and climate action.

 

I’m your host Derval Barzey and today's special guest is an environmentalist, sustainability consultant, and keynote speaker. For the past five years, she has been the environmental and social compliance link between renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and international financial institutions. Based in Ukraine, she's on a mission to help businesses operate in a sustainable manner, reduce costs and effectively manage their environmental and social risk. She's also the host of Sustainability Explored podcast. I'm so very excited to welcome to the climate conscious podcast, Ms. Anna Chashchnya. 

 

Anna Chashchyna:

Thank you. 

 

Derval Barzey:

So you have quite an interesting career journey, studying in France and returning to Ukraine and kick starting your career as a sustainability consultant. Can you walk us through your career path?

 

Anna:   

So Wow, I don't even know where to start. To be honest, environmental studies were never my aim. I was never fixated on this idea of the story. How I got into my bachelor here in Ukraine, in Kiev was quite, well tragic and funny at the same time. We were on our way to the economic faculty with my mom, to basically realize her dream of one of her daughters becoming an economist. And while we were in the public transport, in the trolley bus, I was robbed by the gypsies, like a crowd of gypsies. That completely spoiled my mood for the rest of the day. And I said, we didn't even arrive to the end destination to the point. On my way home, I saw the university I was like, let me try this one. That was Kiev National Aviation University, as funny and unrelated as it sounds. There they had the environmental, environmental studies or environmental science faculty. I applied, left my documents there, and I got accepted. So it was like it was not planned. But basically, the environment as a whole was always of an interest to me. 

 

What happened during my four years of Bachelor here in Ukraine is that I realized, I felt that there must be something better, bigger, and something more applied somewhere else. So I started applying to various universities abroad. I got this scholarship by Erasmus Mundus and I spent two years doing my masters in four universities, basically in partnership, France University Pontier. Then we were we spent three months at the University of East Anglia in the UK. Then there was a University of Greenbrier for me in Portugal. And my second year, I spent half in France, and in Canada, working on my master's thesis on electronic waste recycling. And what happened after that. Well, in my family, I am the first generation to have been abroad, like a tourist, the first generation, the first person in the family to be studying abroad, and having the scholarship so it was like, success, success, success multiplied by 70, probably.

 

When I graduated, I was, probably as any graduate but in my case, it was also amplified by all this family expectations, I was expecting to be in demand by the market. So I stayed in France and was applying everywhere, already having quite a decent level of French, the French Diploma of higher education. And for a year and a half, there was no interest whatsoever, so I tried to do something. Funny thing. While it was not funny back then, but I even, I was so depressed by the end of the first year, I was even trying to get the position, not the position but try to, to get some job. And I remember applying to become a seller in the clothes shop. And they looked at me and said, we’re very sorry to inform you, but you're overqualified, you have a master's degree. So, go find your tribe sort of. That completely broke me. Now I'm laughing of course, because basically these people, and this is probably the lesson for anyone, anyone listening to us from anywhere in the world. Sometimes these obstacles and sometimes the people, the employers, the projects that don't want us, that don't accept us, they are probably showing us some other way they are directing us to something better, something that is really for us.

 

Derval: 

Definitely.

 

Anna: 

And how they phrased it you know, you're overqualified. Absolutely. You’re overqualified, Go find where you belong. Opened my eyes, I left France, I was not in the right place, probably not the right time. All of that was happening in Nice in the southern part of France. I came back to Ukraine completely devastated. Probably for everyone, I was a complete failure. Here, especially in Ukraine, there is this kind of background noise that if you manage to get to the European Union, to any, any kind of a European country, belonging to the European Union, you won a lottery of life. If you came back, people look at you as if you're completely crazy, completely mad. You could do it? You should have stayed illegally, you should have married someone, oh my god, how can you be that stupid. 

 

Still I came back I met, I was met with all this insanity. But this is when I realized that I want to exercise my professional that was so badly important to me. I was ready to start at any entry level position at any money even to work for free to volunteer but to exercise what I was working so hard to get. And this is how I stayed in the environmental kind of sphere, in the environmental field. I was lucky enough. This was September, October 2016. This was the time when one of the Ukrainian state-owned banks was transitioning into a Green Bank. So very much focusing on financing and lending to the project, focusing on alternative energy, projects, development, energy efficiency, and so on and so forth. And they partnered with the aforementioned International Finance Corporation, one of the five branches of the World Bank. And they had, of course, their standards, their own requirements. 

 

Later, I asked how I did during my technical task, and they said, Oh, worst of all. But we still chose you because you were fresh. You were, you had this fresh vision. And I remember the selection process was crazy, very long, probably five or four interviews plus the technical task. And once they interviewed me and I said, Well, there is no one right answer. And when I said it, only after that I understood what I said and how wise it was how real it was to the real life. We're fixating too much, especially young graduates that we have to do everything right, we have to sort of please the employer, we had to get there, whatever this there might mean. But if you allow yourself the thought that there is no one right answer, you will move the mountain, it will move the mountain off your shoulders. So this is how I got the position. And I spent three years developing the environmental and social management system for the bank internally so that the bank can assess the environmental and social risks and various aspects of a variety of plethora of projects that they were going to invest in or lend to. So that was the start.

 

Derval:  

You touched on some really important points. You mentioned obstacles that you faced in your early career in the environmental field. Rejection is often redirection.

 

Anna:

You're very right to say rejection is sometimes redirection. But when you're in the point, in that moment of your life, and when this moment lasts years, two years, almost, you don't think of that. You think, well, I'm probably doing something terribly wrong if I don't see any result for so long. But, you know, in retrospect, looking back, this was probably the right decision. Because I can tell you, we were 13 people in the group studying altogether for four years here in Kiev for our bachelor. And then out of 13 people, only me, I am following what I was studying for. Another friend of mine is a vet doctor in Poland. So, she had to restart completely her studies after she graduated, from the start. The rest 11 people, they chose something else, because there was no market for them, there was no demand. And they felt like they didn't have time. So they all became what they became, flight attendant, nutritionists, sellers, kind of lawyers, assistants, and so on. So this is why, this is another reason why environment in general, and there you can break it down, air quality or waste management, risk assessments, you know, for the financial institutions, everything is in such a poor state, because there are no people and even if they studied for it, they cannot find application for their skills. So it's, in fact, it's a sad story. It's funny to look back. But in the moment, it's really, really important to stay strong. And, again, for anyone out there who's listening, who's probably at this exact stage in life that I'm describing, try to find support. Most probably your family will not be these people. It was not the case for me. And no one understood why I came back and what a stupid move this was. Try to find a support group, online, maybe in your communities somewhere, at least one person who will provide you with emotional safety and this emotional, mental support during this very, very hard time. But don't walk away from this path. Give yourself some time.

 

Derval:

I couldn't agree with you more, Anna. You gave really good advice in terms of finding support. Any other advice for aspiring sustainability professionals?

 

Anna:

I would go with consistency. Of course, you know, it can be that sustainability is not for you, or whatever else you're studying, climate, whatever else you are feeling, like you will apply in life, it can be that it's not for you. But give yourself enough time to plant the seeds. Work on your soil and your garden to see the results of this work. Don't expect very fast results. I would go number one with consistency. Can give you the example of how I started my podcast. And consistency was really the key. First, you're doing all the work by yourself looking for guests, like I'm telling you, you probably know it better than me. Looking for guests. I was spending days studying people's profiles on LinkedIn, approaching them, finding ways to invite them, because no one owes me anything. Especially, these professionals don't owe me their time. They don't have to accept and this was also another kind of emotional aspect. Yeah, just do what you can do and let it be. But then consistency started to pay off. Now people see this, what we often forget, compound effect. You don't see the results in one day, in week in months. But you will see this snowball is slowly getting, getting its layers. It's getting bigger, and it will work. It will work. 

 

In my case when I was looking for a job in sustainability. It took me really long. I don't know maybe I was not the most dynamic person back then. Or I was not looking in the right places. Probably the combination of all. But do something every day. Maybe read one article a day. Try to get key points, key thinking like thought points. Every day, try to contact one person on LinkedIn every day. Read one business book a month, you know. Slowly, steadily take, don't take the sandwich that is bigger than your mouth. Take the parts and pieces that you can handle, but do so consistently. 

 

Another one is what helped me well, emotional stability. We already mentioned the tribe. Find people who would support you on that journey. There are lots of mastermind groups, some of them are free, some of them are, like require a fee or some certain payment. But support is a super, hyper, extremely important. And number three, this is because I'm a meeting this a lot online right now, I'm facing this wave of poor communication. When you're at the stage of looking for a job, um, probably it will sound harsh, but know your place. Know your position in this interaction, when you're asking for something, have some decency to ask for whatever you ask with respect. Don't expect the reply, really. People are busy with their things and also with their troubles. No, none of us is alone in our problems, issues and obstacles. But the communication, learning how to communicate respectfully, is something I would probably dedicate another episode to. Because well this is insanity, people are losing touch with reality. A lot of people expect, actively expect everyone to understand them and be in their shoes. While you know we're all in life, dealing with our own demons and problems and so on. Well, unfortunately, this is not something that any of us studied at the University. Communication is a super huge block to consider when you're looking, when you're applying, when you need anything from other people. So that would be my three big points, consistency, support group and communication.

 

Derval:  

You know, there are persons who dismiss sustainability. There even person to me, climate change is a hoax. And I recently learned that as an established movement of persons who believe that the earth is flat. Yeah. So how do you convince or demonstrate to clients that sustainability is a good investment?

 

Anna:

That is such a great question. But first, a joke about Flat Earth. With the coronavirus pandemic and the social distancing. People who believe in Flat Earth also start fearing falling off the earth. There is not enough space for everyone. This is funny, but in fact, it's not funny. I was thinking, I had an interview Oh, December last year with Laura Tannenbaum. She's a former climate communicator at NASA. And what she said was really interesting. She said it takes climate researchers years to set up the experiment, to write the paper, to get through the peer review, to get published. Ages, years to set up an experiment to get some results to validate the results to go through peer review, to finally publish so that the general public and media can discuss, republish, and so on and so on. But it only takes one second for the climate denier to say You're lying. It's not true. You know, there is no balance of powers.

 

Derval:

People simply choose not to believe.

 

Anna:

And it doesn't matter what you say. First of all, probably none of those climate deniers even read the papers. They hear the rumours they pick, they stay in their informational bubble. They cannot discuss because there is nothing for them to discuss. They just blob their opinion. But then the question to us, shall we interact? Shall we try to convince them? It's very resource inefficient and energy inefficient to me. For example, as to someone working in the field. Well, is it even worse In engaging in that conversation. My three years at the bank is a perfect example. I was such a black sheep there. First, it's a financial institution. The even the building is such a Soviet place, never saw the renovation. You know, so all the environment, all things around me did not inspire any change in the people who are running the institution or simply working in there. And there you have this environmentalist in the bank. People were meeting me with the words like, are you kidding me? Who are you? And what are you doing here? Obviously, it was very hard to, to find the common language. We did not speak the common language. Even the simplest things, condition, the word condition that you put into, into the report, let's just say. So you list the conditions, even this word is called differently in the finance world, it's called covenant. So, this is just a super simple, basic example but, and once the wise colleague of mine, much older than me, who is also, who has spent maybe 30, 40 years in the environmental field, she told me, don't convince, find those who are already convinced. And this was such a revelation, this became my mantra. And honestly, since then, I'm really not chasing, because I don't have the resource, I am really not chasing the companies, the institutions that I have to convince. They have to come to me already been pre convinced. And only after that, I believe we can have some productive, effective collaboration and get somewhere, to get to some result. 

 

So yes, for a lot of people around the world in the sustainability field, in the environment, in the social field, very much so, the last 50 years, it has been banging their head against the wall. Why? We only have, I don't know, depending from where you are, maybe maximum 80, 90, if you're super lucky, years of life. Everything is finite energy, your kind of organism your body resource, why would you spend it so unwisely. Try to do that, try to be productive, try to be efficient. Go to those who are already convinced those who are not, they are not convincible, you know, the climate deniers. Try to think of the time you have especially time as a finite resource. How are you spending your days with whom are you spending your days this is so very much related to sustainability of self. And everybody who flew the plane, who flew anywhere heard the phrase first wear the oxygen mask yourself and then help the others. You cannot help the world you cannot exercise this profession or any other profession if you cannot help yourself. Battling was this, with the wind is very unproductive.

Derval

I like that concept of sustainability of self.

 

Anna

Yes. I would just add one thing. Helping the planet helping others helping clients helping anyone, not at the expense of harming yourself.

 

Derval:

So coming back to your very interesting career path. You spent three years at the bank working on sustainable energy projects. After leaving the bank, where did you go?

 

Anna:

Oh, leaving the bank was a story in itself. I was fed up with the corporate environment. And if I am being absolutely honest and transparent with you, tired of the fact that I was not really the sole responsible actor of whatever I was to produce was always dependent on the management decisions. And the management didn't even always understand what we were doing. This thing was sort of environmental and social management system was sort of imposed on the institution by the higher financial institution that I've seen in our case. So there wasn't communication gap between all the parties. 

 

Finally, what we were just talking a second ago, self-sustainability was, was not doing great. And I just felt like I was on the edge of the burnout. And that I could do better on my own terms. I really needed to be to be on my own terms. So I was taking on the projects for the last half a year that I was still a full time employee at the bank, I was taking on the projects here and there little like hustles, I travelled to Georgia, the country in the Caucasus, I delivered to another environmental and social, whatever sort of a training for the transport company with another company that I was employed on a project basis. And I got the taste of it. I really like the travel, I really like the versatility of projects that I could actively be involved in, different people, different cultures. Sgain, Georgia is a, it's one of my most favourite places on earth. So having to do the training, to deliver a training very was, you know, an adventure in itself that made me reconsider my profession and find the love for it again. 

 

So I started the podcast. In my first 10, sort of episodes, slash chapters, I described what I did during three years. So chapter one, environmental and social policy, why do we need it? Who is the recipient? How to communicate it? Stakeholders’ engagement, who, what, why, when, and so on? Sustainable procurement, same thing. And every time people were asking me, you know, okay, but how did you do? Episode number four, Sustainability Explore the available on 10 platforms back then, and so on. I started to develop the podcast, and I realized that this is the way for me. So I left the bank started with the podcast. At the same time, I was approached by a company who developed some energy, back then was at the stage of development of the wind farm, the biggest in Ukraine wind farm, 500 megawatts. In Ukraine. Now, it's, it's almost over. The first phase of the project is about to be delivered in the month or two. So they found me and I started to do the same things as I did for the bank, but this time for the business. So knowing what the bank wants, what are the bank requirements or financial institution requirements, how the IFC performance standard to work, I was able to really in a, you know, in a very applied way to help this business to help this company to, to create the policy to create the plans, and training plans, stakeholder engagement, pollution prevention, biodiversity management, and so on and so forth. I can continue endlessly, and noise management plan. All of that to deliver the project to construct, to build the wind farm in the most sustainable, environmentally and socially friendly and compliant way. So, I'm still with them. It's been more than a year that I'm engaged in, in that project. And back to the compound effect that I was telling you about in the beginning. One action every day, consistently, planning, reading, research in on the

performance standard side, communicating with people every day, I was doing one little action, and every week, I released one episode of The on the podcast on the sustainability export podcast. And they started to pay off only a year later, only till action every day. I don't know, half of the management plan here. Communicating with someone on LinkedIn effectively, respectfully, finding a guest for my podcast, recording one episode a week, release and learning something new. Step by step, step by step slowly without really over depleting your own body and energy resource, a year and three months or four months at this time. Or at the time of this episode recording, I have five running contracts. And I only started last June. And now it's September. So yeah, a year, less than a year and a half, the machine started to work for me the machine is sustainable in itself. And it's working for me. 

 

And I couldn't be there without my support. I have a very supporting supportive husband, who is with me no matter what. And he's also kind of fulfilling the role of my business coach. He's a little bit older than me, and he has more experience, he also has his own business. This is the help, this is the support that I wish for everyone to have. If you don't have you know, this person, super close in your family, be it your parents or your own family, that depends on where in life you are. Find someone. Sometimes, you know, I'm a big advocate for coaching and psychology services and so on. Sometimes just one session with someone outside of your head can really unblock you forever. Another example, when was it, exactly when I was looking for a job, I too. So that was four, four years ago. I took, it costs that a little bit. It costed something, but it's important to tell yourself in your head that it's an investment. It's not a loss of time or money. And I do realize money's is, is not abundant too much when you're just starting when you are just out of the university. But just one career coaching session unblocked me so well, and made me realize Well, in my case, my takeaway was that the distance between the idea and the first step of its realization has to be as minimal as possible. And that was, that was a revelation. So sometimes, if you're blocked, you cannot even realize that you are blocked. Try to get one career coaching or business coaching session, to discuss it with the professional, it will help you. Think of it as a as of an investment. It takes a while to arrive there to this spot. But it's so much worth it. And this is something I can definitely recommend to anyone, regardless of the stage of your career.

 

Derval:

Well, Anna I fully agree with all of you have said you know, especially I can relate to what you said about coaching, because sometimes you're blocked, you just feel stuck and talking to someone and getting a fresh perspective it really energizes you to move forward.

 

Anna

There is a negative connotation attached to the psychologist or the business coach. For example, well, I can hear almost the voice of my parents in my head in my head, like or now you're that cool? You have extra money to pay for this non essentials. But no, this is the most essential thing, because this will bring you to another stage in life. And this is how this money, the investment that you're putting into unblocking yourself. This money will return faster and in more in bigger amounts.

 

Derval:

It will pay dividends for sure. 

 

Anna: 

Yep. 

 

Derval:

And I love what you were able to provide, you know, moving from working in the bank and more on the regulatory side to working with project developers.

 

Anna

Yes, I don't know where I got the strength to do so. And I certainly didn't have a role model anywhere around me. Especially in my family. No one wasn't an entrepreneur, and another kind of a negative thing that I was growing up with is, sadly enough, If you have money someone else will come and take it from you beat state authorities. Mostly that so don't show up. Don't my father even used to say when I was little funny enough, I'm recalling this only now. They had that is above the crowd. falls the first, like gets cut the first. So, don't, don't stand out, don't show up, don't shine on the, on the sun, on the light. Be like everybody else, be that grey, grey spot grey mask so that no one can find you and don't attract too much attention. And for me, you know, I could not be an employee, an employee that just blindly without thinking follows the rules. I was always questioning the rules, I was always questioning the status quo. And this is what helped me progress. And everything that I touched along the way also progressed and changed for a better because I was like, why are we doing it this way? Can we not print this papers? Can we, I don't know, edit the document online? Oh, wait a second, we never thought of it. And you know, as simple as that. But one out there you save the everyone a lot of time and a lot of resource, not only on the environmental kind of side of things, but everything. Oh, why are we doing this? Or why are we doing it this way? Or this way? So always challenge the environment. Challenge yourself. Right? Yeah, sometimes we simply don't see what's going on. And yes, speaking of them, have the processes and have the management and when there is three, four or five layers, if you're lucky, above you, to them, to the decision makers to the top managers. I this is sad, lots of communication gets lost in the corridors. It's like, Yeah, lots of time gets wasted. And I simply felt like I needed to be to be by myself. I love responsibility, I love taking more responsibility, and I love seeing the results of my work. And when I fail, okay, I take the lesson, and I move on, and I have no one to blame. So, I guess being an, it's like a writer or an artist, you write because you cannot do otherwise, or you paint, because you cannot not paint. And for me becoming an entrepreneur, becoming you know, a business owner in the sustainability field. being by myself in in, in many terms, is only because I could not do otherwise.

 

Derval 

I totally get you. And it's important to be self-aware. You know, because we can't all be entrepreneurs, but some of us are just not cut out to be employees. 

 

Anna:

Being an employee is not a bad thing. It was not a right fit for me after a while, but it gave me so much it gave me the understanding of the structure, it gave me the understanding of the processes, I trained exercise this ability to, to write the processes and to polish them and to be one of the departments, but to also kind of to be that flow in between the departments and in between the various fields of responsibility where other people are heads off. So it gives you a lot of clarity in mind, the structure, the processes, the end result. And me again, to be completely honest, I would probably not be here without that corporate experience.

 

Derval

Nothing is wasted. Every experience, you know, really shapes you and moves you and prepares you for what's next. 

 

Anna:

Absolutely.

 

 

Derval:

So I was listening to your podcast sustainability explored. So in your conversation with Virginia Cinquemani, the issue of greenwashing came up and I feel like lately we have been seeing a lot more of that. And for everyone's benefit. greenwashing is when a company or an organization they invest more in marketing themselves as environmentally friendly, rather than actually implementing measures to minimize the environmental impact. So have you encountered a similar situation my clients just once it's a tick the box to appear sustainable, eco-friendly, but they weren't really invested in making the necessary changes?

 

Anna:

In my bank life when I was independent. To assess many projects at once, yes, I saw that but yeah, it's just the maturity or rather immaturity of the market here, were probably not only here, not only in Ukraine. They want to appear Nice Guys, I cannot blame them for that. But at the same time, it was my job, even though I was not paid for it, to set up proper communication to maybe when I can, if I can, explain why we are doing this and that and why it is beneficial for them to look into sustainable resources, sustainable procurement, to look into the local workforce to enhance their health and safety aspect, because they see it as a waste of money, but there is a fine line between wasting money and investing money. So, sometimes you put something, in terms of financial resources, but it will pay off. Yes, of course, I encountered companies that wanted to cut corners or we will invest in marketing and completely disregard sustainability aspect.  Take this money and try to do something positive with that, try to again start with getting an environmentalist or sustainability consultant for, you know, a project on the project basis. Get a consultant, define the strategy, see what you can do together. And with that money, that you were going to invest in marketing, try to do something positive. The marketing will arrive. People will want your product there is now more and more people value and sustainability aspect looking for it looking for sustainable packaging or sustainable fashion. Demand will follow and the market and will follow as well, then you will, you know, then it's a, it's a circle, and it's again, a compound effect. It will find you but try to do something good with that resource that you have. It's a mentality thing, I think, but it's worse. It's so, so much worse, trying to just, you know, humanly communicate, oh, have you tried this? Or maybe you should look into that? And of course, they will be in denial, no, no, no, no, we have a project manager or a PR department or someone we know better what to do. I would say it's a soft, soft - strong power to apply proper communication and to suggest options. So that they consider. But, you know, on a personal level, I find it annoying. I also see the brands that switch the shoes or change their shoes on the fly like oh, yesterday they were coal producers and today they are building wind farms. But on the other hand, it's good that it is finally becoming fashionable.

 

Derval:

So Trinidad and Tobago is embarking on its first utility scale renewable energy project, to build solar PV plants, and to use what produce or combine 110 megawatts of power. So we're literally going from zero to 100, as this would be the first of its kind in our country. As an experienced sustainability consultant, what are some important environmental and social elements that we should consider?

 

Anna:

Whatever your project is, consider the life cycle. So first of all, build this starting from the materials extraction or supply chain as far back as you can, without going to too crazy, of course. So, where your materials will come from, whatever it is that you're building, to the construction of it, building of it, usage phase, and the dismantling, decommissioning, and final dismantling. So look at the lifecycle. That's number one. And then on the environmental side, as well as on the social side, there are two things always look on the inside and on the outside. Environmentally inside, this is your power supply, water, where water comes from, where water goes. This I mean for the workers, as well as like technical water, drinking water, water discharge. Everything, again, in the micro life cycle, that is part of your project during the stage of construction, to start with them during the stage of operation or usage. And then during the decommissioning. On the environmental side, it's what circulates inside of the project. Look at the noise parameters, dust parameters, biodiversity, soil, like landscape, and geological and hydrological parameters. environment on the outside is everything that is outside of your project behind the, sort of behind the fence. How are you affecting again, birds, bats, insects, air, how do you minimize it? How do you avoid it, if you can. On the social side? Again, internally, you look at the needs of your workers. You develop the grievance mechanism. It has to be transparent. People have to go through, you know, through certain trainings, they have to know their conditions of employment, they have to sign their contracts. So, it has to be legal. Of course. This is out of even question. 

 

And then on the outside is the community where you're building, implement in your project. There you have lots of stakeholders. So, let's just start with the community, with the residents of the village or the city. This people have to know what's going on in their community, they have to be able to work on your project, local content, local aspect of the workforce is always, should always be welcome, at least on the semi-skilled and unskilled, with the semi-skilled and unskilled workers. Yeah, they have to as well the community, so the social aspect outside of the project, they also have to know where to address their grievances, whatever it might be. They have to have means of communication with the project, kind of project company or project owners, and also village councils. Establishing a good relationship with village councils is one of the most important I would say things to consider during any sort of project development, implementation and again, throughout the lifecycle of the project. So yeah, basically look at the lifecycle and look at the inside and outside of the environmental and social issues. It sounds simple, but we disregard so many things as humans. 

 

So, if I am to give one professional advice and one recommendation with that would be checklists. Implement checklists, think be that person who thinks for everyone and you know, give away those checklists. Have you checked this? Have you did that? Have you opened Have you closed and so on and so forth, so that people again, it works both sides. The newcomers will see what to do and will start implementing it. The older kind of workforce that has been there for a while, we'll always be reminded because we tend to As humans, we tend to get into the automated mode. And sometimes we just do it without thinking whatever action. And this is another problem. So checklist is, is that one thing that will reduce the occurrence of mistakes and errors dramatically. And the book recommendation right here, the book that I love a lot is called Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande, exactly about this on this topic. And plenty of examples of how checklists were implemented in the hospitals, in the constructions, in the aircraft's, air transportation. And that this is the reason why, for example, air transportation became so safe, because there are checklists, and they are implemented religiously. 

 

Yeah, if I can add one thing about the solar photovoltaic panels, is always pay very close attention to the decommission phase. They are, I don't know about the new generations of generation of this technology. But last time I checked, this solar panels serve 25, maybe 30 years. Have anyone thought of what's happening with the solar panels after they're dead after their, you know, they serve their purpose. How does it get recycled, where, who takes care of that. And this is very important, because last thing we all want to see is all these solar panels, which is, in fact, electronic waste, being dumped in the oceans, in some poorer countries, developing countries, land fields. So really, really consider them, I would say, the end of life stage in case of solar panels, and these sort of very positive alternative energy projects is super important, maybe the most important of all the stages.

 

Derval:

So Anna, I think I feel like I can sit here and chat with you for hours on end,

 

Anna:

Well this is very pleasant conversation.

 

Derval:

But as we wrap up, why sustainability?

 

Unknown Speaker  

The answer is very simple, because there is no other way. The more I am discussing sustainability, exploring sustainability on my podcast, every week, I invite someone new from some other field to see how sustainability is integrated into business operations in a plethora of industries. The more I ask myself, why are we even talking about sustainability? When it should be, it has to be it, must be the only way of doing things. It's very disturbing. And not just disturbing. I mean, it gives me for real, it gives me anxiety. I just returned from Turkey; the sea is full of plastic. And, yeah, here in Ukraine, I'm checking, I have an application to check air quality, air quality is bad. I'm suffering with allergy and I consider myself a relatively healthy individual specimen. I can only imagine how other people more sensitive people suffer. You see marine pollution, you see air pollution, you see the landfills that are overflowing with the stuff that we buy, that we don't need that we discard. It's a, it's a vicious circle. And not only it's disturbing, as I said, it gives me real anxiety. I really hope that sustainability really becomes the only way of doing things that we progress as a humanity closer to circular economy as soon as possible, like as humanly possible. And that we finally kind of turn on our brains and stop denying things that we already did to the planet and start doing things a different way. And sustainability is the only acceptable, the only way to do them. 

 

Yeah, well, all we can do is hope and spread the message and, you know, kudos to people like you who find the courage and time and effort and resources to have the podcast, to keep them running, to spread the message around the world. So, I'm really hopeful that someone who listens to our conversation today or later on in life will get inspired, will think of something, will think of the individual lifestyles that we're exercising. And probably, again, as I said earlier, don't take the sandwich bigger than your mouth can take. Step by step, little by little, maybe today, you're you will decide not to use any more like plastic bottled shampoo. I completely switched two years ago to the solid shampoo, one little action, tiny action, in fact, but I even stopped counting how many plastic bottles I sold sort of did not discard by simply using the solid shampoo that it's sort of like a soap, you know?

 

Derval:

Yeah, shampoo bar.

 

Anna:

And that's all. Yeah, shower gel as well. I simply use the soap. On the very small individual level, look around you. Look what you're putting in your trash bin. Assess, you know, what's the biggest kind of fraction there? Maybe you can simply avoid wasting, whatever it is. Food, something that is on your plate, learn to deal with less to achieve more. Yeah, and start where you are, really, start where you are. It really starts with small, tiny steps. We can do it.

 

Derval:

Indeed, starts where you are. So Anna, where can listeners connect with you.

 

Anna:

The best way to connect with me is on LinkedIn. I'm very active. They're very responsive. So it's on Anna Chashchyna or follow the podcast Sustainabilty Explored. There is LinkedIn page, Facebook group. Yeah, and there is my personal page on LinkedIn as well as my website or I keep forgetting the website is the same annachashchyna.com.

 

Derval:

And I thank you for this pleasure having you on the climate conscious podcast.

 

Anna:

Thank you, a great pleasure talking to you today and really sharing, taking off my chest what I had to share.

 

Derval:

So if you enjoyed this episode, please rate and leave a review. And also share the podcast with a friend. Connect with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at The Climate Conscious. 

 

Thank you for listening bye

 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai