Welcome to our ‘Greener Workplace’ blog.
It is so easy to continue with ‘business as usual’ but read on to discover some tips and tricks to help you create a sustainable environment in the office or at home.
Energy is such a hot topic these days. There is a massive focus on moving to electricity for everything, which of course poses challenges and raises questions – I would love to know the impact of an electric car that is powered by electric generated from fossil fuels for example. Does that still make them more environmentally friendly than petrol or diesel vehicles?!
Saying that, there is no question that we need to move away from fossil fuels and that we all need to do what we can to help push this movement towards sustainable energy forwards.
So, without ado, here’s what you can do:
Check your energy tariff and if you are not already on a renewable one then look to switch to when your current one ends, we use EDF at the moment. There are different tariffs for business and homes and
When making your choice check to see what the provider means by ‘green’ energy – some have been accused of greenwashing and you need to ensure that the money you are paying is going to support renewable energy production.
There is more information here in a great article by Money Saving Expert.
As simple as it sounds, one of the best things you can do to become more sustainable is to take steps to use less.
What this looks like is very business dependant, but consider things such as timer plugs to ensure washing machines or dishwashers turn off once the cycle has finished rather than draining electricity all night/weekend.
Movement activated lights combined with low energy bulbs are a great way to make sure that lights are only on when they are needed – provided you don’t sit still for too long.
Have you heating at a comfortable but not too hot temperature – whilst everyone needs to be warm enough whilst at work having to wear a jumper in winter is perfectly acceptable!
In the UK it is easy to be blasé about water consumption. It is hard to remember the summer of 2022 when it was so hot and dry when this summer has been so wet and cold so far.
Statistics say that hotter, drier times are more and more likely to occur. And looking at what is happening with the fires across the planet right now it is easy to see how that weather could move our way. A key part of being sustainable is remembering that water is precious and we need to treat it as such, not only by using it considerately but also when deciding what chemicals and products we use in our businesses and homes.
If you have dishwashers or washing machines make sure you use the eco settings – according to Which this will use 20-40% less energy and water than a standard programme.
Low flow taps and toilets are one easy way to reduce water consumption. All new toilets use less water than the old ones, so depending on the age of the toilet in your premises perhaps it is time for an upgrade.
Some manufacturing processes use a lot of water. If you grow plants you could look into irrigation systems. Printing companies have been able to move to waterless printing – there is no shame in looking for other companies in your category and asking them for specific tips and advice. If they genuinely do want to be a ‘better business’ they will be happy to share!
Whilst in the UK the water that leaves buildings is returned to a treatment plant and ‘cleaned’ as much as possible before it is released it is a sad fact that not every chemical can be fully removed.
This is where the importance of cleaning products come in – by using low or no chemical products you know you are not harming our streams or wildlife.
Companies such as Fill and Spruce deliver environmentally friendly cleaning products to the door. If you have office cleaners ask them what they use, if you are not happy with it then provide your own and ask them to use them.
It is all important to consider supply chains and that we do what we can to ensure that those involved are responsible and are making sure any dirty waste water is cleaned properly before it is retuned to the water way, wherever they are in the world.
Many moons ago I watched a BBC documentary with Stacey Dooley, it’s called Fashion’s Dirty Secrets and unfortunately isn’t available at the moment. If you ever get the chance to watch it please do! Seeing children washing in water that is literally bubbling with chemicals is eye opening and horrifying, and really drives home the importance of making the best choices we can.
Carbon emissions are, quite rightly, a very hot topic. We all have a carbon footprint, it is almost impossible not to have.
There are some innovative businesses who have managed to produce some carbon negative products – say hello to the amazing Gipsy Hill who have produced carbon negative beer through the use of regeneratively farmed hops and other practices to use previously wasted products. You can learn a bit more about it in this short video.
Carbon footprints are complex and can be daunting. There are many companies that can help measure yours, but if you are not ready for that Futurelearn have a course that explains all about carbon, scopes 1, 2 and 3 and provides an easy to use spreadsheet. It might not be a perfectly precise measurement, but is a great place to start and increase understanding around a mind boggling topic.
If you are interested in your personal footprint then try this by the Global Footprint Network.
Reducing plastic, waste and energy useage and switching to renewable energy will all positively impact your carbon footprint.
Consider business travel – can it be reduced? If not is the train an option instead of flying? Make sure you choose hotels that are eco friendly. These steps will go a long way to making your business travel more sustainable.
Using a travel company such as B Corp certified coco+ will take away the hassle for you and will help you always make the most sustainable travel choices for your business.
Carbon offsetting can be controversial. Some say that it is cheating, and should not be done because it stops companies making efforts to minimise their carbon emissions.
I feel that carbon offsetting can be great, but only when it is used to offset what cannot be reduced. And only when done in a sustainable ‘gold standard’ way such as through Ecologi.
It is important to consider that offsetting does not stop carbon being released, it cannot solve our climate problems, but it can go someway to helping the balance be restored when used in conjunction where reduction is the main goal.
ENDING ON A HIGH
With so much negativity it can be to feel there is no point changing the way we live and work. This could not be further from the truth!
Here are some incredible things that are happening around the world right now:
Therapeutic ‘friendship benches‘
in Zimbabwe. Coming to London in 2024 this simple yet genius concept creates a safe space for people to talk to trained ‘community grannies’ without fear or judgement.
have introduced a herd of 10 Przewalski’s horses to the Iberian Highlands. The horses natural behaviours help to create firebreaks that are critical to stopping the spread of wildfires. Whilst 10 horses isn’t many the hope is that this wonderful endangered ancient breed will….breed therefore creating a larger herd.
has pledged to protect and expand Wistman’s Wood. Wistman’s Wood is a magical ancient rainforest of twisted moss-covered oak trees, small streams and diverse species of plants and animals. It is thought to be one of the oldest surviving woodlands in England, dating back to the Mesolithic period and is home to a variety of rare and endangered species. Well done our Prince!
As always, I hope you have found this intersting, and if you have any comments or questions please do get in touch!