I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my own impact on the planet both at home and in the business I run, as well as clients and their offices that I support. And just how much more information we have to hand these days compared to when the first whispering of “green” companies and how “green” can you be were heard; so I thought it would be interesting to explore this a little further for my next blog.
Certainly now, (and with most credit due to social media) we as a nation and around the world have a much better grasp on just what impact our purchasing, usage and wastage has on this beautiful world and more so, what we crucially need to change to preserve it for longer than we’re currently on track to. But what change has that made for you and how you run your office? Would you consider yourself now greener than you were say 5 or even less years ago? And, do you have plans to improve that further still?
Turning to business
For me, looking at my business first, there are a number of ways that I should be less plastic fantastic and greener. One of which is with the goodies that we give to clients; I have always tried to make the goody bags closely connected to office management with products such as hand sanitizers (because we’re always in need of these!), computer cleaners, tape measures etc. but some of them are single-use plastics and are likely not recycled after use. So, my mission now is to either purchase recycled and recyclable goods only – or scrap them altogether (sorry future clients!). After all, the products are ultimately not what wins us business, but help to promote our brand and we can do this in many other ways that are more sustainable.
Another way was in relation to driving to and from the station I walk mostly however, the fact that I am about to move a little further away means I need another plan. So, I have made a promise that I will cycle instead of drive (on dry days). Finally, at our events we have prohibited the use of straws and plastic cups.
Changes at home
Then at home, which was somewhat easier, we have made a number of changes this year; most notably being:
- We no longer have bottled hand soap, anywhere – we have 2 bathrooms and a kitchen and that meant around 3 bottles every 2 or so months binned; instead we have gone back to bars of soap and this has also been more cost effective for us (and we’re quite enjoying experimenting with different options!)
- Next was the hair products – we ditched the normal shampoos and conditioners and went for bars of these instead and I have to say my hair has never felt better or more lightweight (and I used to use some brands like Unite and Kérastase); see Lush for some of their amazing products
- Our food shopping has also been switched, we go to our green grocer, which we walk to most of the time and try to get every bit of fruit and veg plastic free, taking our reusable bags and pots (and my partner is the same at the butchers). We also switched plastic bottles of more or less everything we could to glass, cans or cartons instead
- And finally, still on our mission we are now switching cleaning products starting with washing tablets for powders in cardboard boxes, and trying to make our own or use sites such as Splosh where you can use one bottle (we used some we had that are empty) and send back the packaging for them to recycle.
And now… the office
All of this got me thinking and moving onto the offices I work in; there were some really quick wins here too and I think some more work to do. For example, in your office do you:
- Have a battery recycling point in place
- Re-use or offer out packaging to staff to take home (this has been particularly of use to me as we are moving and need boxes)
- Re-use padded envelopes (the ones with the plastic bubble wrap in); I’ve recently been saving some and taking them home, giving them to staff etc. as we all tend to have a need to send things in the post at home thanks to eBay!
- Have a toner recycling point and/or programme in place
- Have desk bins that have split sections – we saw one at a client’s recently that was a brown faux-leather bin with two compartments so people can recycle at their desk (given the ‘don’t take my desk bin away’ debates!)
- Have an IT kit recycling programme or contractor in place
- Buy sustainably sourced or second-hand furniture, or even re-manufactured which can be cost-effective and still give you some of the guarantees you want from buying new
- Buy brown paper tape (instead of the plastic parcel tape – this is one I read about recently, it literally gets us everywhere…)
- Have a food waste caddy / bin in place in your kitchen area?
And, would you consider switching hand soap bottles for bars of soap? Most probably not keen to but it would literally save millions and millions of bottles per year if we did, so it’s worth at least the consideration!
How to get started
If you’re not sure where to start, perhaps chat to your suppliers and see if there is anything they can do to support your #plasticfree effort. Your stationery provider should be able to advise about greener products, ask them to reduce their packaging and put pressure on their manufacturers if you are keen to have an impact.
It may also be worth discussing with your cleaning provider and ask if there are any other ways you can improve recycling, reducing or re-using through them (e.g. with their products too).
Overall, I think we’re now all pretty clued up on the negative impact we are having and will continue to have if we don’t all take stock at home and at work and make small changes. I hope you’ll join me in making some small steps for the benefit of our planet’s future! Please do let me know what you’ve done in your offices.