This year marks the UN’s 46th World Environment Day. The theme is #BeatAirPollution, in light of research from the World Health Organisation showing that nine out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air.
To honour World Environment Day, TopLine Film commissioned research looking at workplace sustainability. Of the 1,000 participants, nearly a quarter (24 percent) said they would refuse a job at an organisation with a poor sustainability record, and three quarters (73 percent) would like to see their workplace improve its sustainability record.
I’d like to say I’ve been a passionate environmentalist all my life, but that’s not exactly true. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve wasted a lot in my 38 years. But over the last few years (especially since I’ve had children), I’ve become much more aware of how precious our planet is and how much it is under threat, and I’ve become committed to reducing (and maybe one day eliminating) my contribution to the planet’s environmental destruction. And as CEO of TopLine Comms and TopLine Film, I believe it’s my responsibility to show my team that, as a company, we take sustainability seriously.
The first step was to ask the team what they want to see from our new environmental policy for the business, which we did in a survey. Most (94 percent) are committed to protecting the environment and agree that TopLine should have an environmental policy in place. This will be our focus in the coming weeks, and I would like to challenge business owners (who haven’t already done so) to do the same.
Attracting and retaining employees is already difficult for most companies. The good news is that showing your commitment to sustainability can help. And it doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive. With the help of our team, we’ve come up with a few suggestions that can be implemented right away.
Go straight to the horse’s mouth
If you don’t have a policy in place on sustainability, start by surveying your employees to see where they stand on it. At TopLine, some suggestions from our team included:
- Monitoring our energy output and setting targets to reduce it
- Further education on recycling and energy conservation
- Banning single use plastic water bottles and cutlery in the office
- Participating in waste management initiatives
These are all easy to implement, and we know that they’ll resonate with our staff.
Improve your office recycling practices
When asked what their workplaces currently do to address sustainability, the most common activity was recycling office waste (50 percent). This makes sense, considering how easy it is to implement. Simply add a few recycling bins close to the regular bin with clear signposting on what should go in what bin. And if you haven’t already, ban single-use plastic bottles and cutlery in the office. You could buy everyone a reusable coffee cup as an incentive, but if you can’t afford to do this, encourage staff members to bring a reusable cup from home. You can also put up recycling posters in the office as a daily reminder.
Use eco-friendly cleaning products
Cleaning products are a necessary evil — you need to keep the office clean, but the products are often housed in single use plastic and are full of chemicals. However, there are other options. For example, all the items in the Wilko Eco Cleaning Bundle are packaged in recycled and recyclable plastic. They’re also vegan friendly and non-harmful to aquatic life.
Get a dishwasher
If you have the budget and the space, consider getting a dishwasher. Even though dishwashers use electricity, they’re actually a greener choice than hand washing dishes. Newer dishwashers use less water and they heat up water more efficiently. However, these savings only apply to full loads, so make sure you don’t switch the dishwasher on until it’s completely full.
Limit paper usage
The need for paper and printers in the workplace is rapidly decreasing, but some offices still rely on them a little too much. Encourage team members to edit documents on screen and share them electronically rather than printing out hard copies. Sometimes, it can be as simple as putting a note on the printer that says ‘do you really need to print this?’ to break the habit.
Work with sustainable suppliers
If you rely heavily on suppliers, make sure you check their sustainability commitments. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask them what they’re doing to be more environmentally friendly — just asking the question shows your own commitment, which might get them thinking about what else they can do.
Create a sustainability taskforce
When asked whose responsibility it is to create an eco-friendly workplace, the majority of survey participants (72 percent) said all employees were responsible, while 24 percent said the CEO was responsible. Employees want to be involved, so include them. You could get everyone involved in the planning and then set up a team to track and monitor company efforts.
Recognise environmental awareness days
Awareness days give us a convenient excuse to talk about important issues. Recognising them in the workplace shows your commitment to the issue at hand. At TopLine, we’re participating in the World Environment Day Mask Challenge by decorating our own air pollution masks.
Sustainability is a mindset. Ultimately, creating a more sustainable working environment comes down to making better choices. Scientists have previously warned that we must limit the rise in global temperatures to 2°C, or else face extreme weather, rising sea levels and plant and animal extinction. The World Meteorological Organization recently predicted that global temperatures could increase 3–5°C by the end of the century. To meet the 2°C target, we must radically overhaul our lifestyles. If your company doesn’t have an environmentally friendly policy, now is the time to put one in place.