2nd April 2019
Eco-friendly Varn: How to make your business more environmentally friendly
Here at Varn, we recently made the conscious decision to change things up around the office. Once we decided that we wanted to take steps to reduce our footprint and create some positive changes, we set to it right away.
We assigned a member of a team to handle the process of being more eco-friendly and to research all the possible things we could do to make the office more ‘green’. This brought a lot of things to light and we have since started gradually introducing different ideas and putting them in to practice.
Here are some of the things we discovered and put into action:
1. Switch to energy saving light bulbs
One easy way to go green in your office is to switch all your bulbs to energy saving light bulbs. This means replacing any older light fittings with more eco-friendly alternatives.
LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs make great replacements for fitted lights and you can switch out your bulbs for CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamps).
Switching to greener lighting options not only helps save the environment, it also saves you money. Modern bulbs can use up to 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and last 10 times longer. LED’s are even more energy-efficient, lasting up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs.
2. Change your electricity/gas provider
Most people shop for their electricity based on cost but they don’t consider the impact the company has on the environment. Switching to a green energy provider can often cost a little more but the positive impact you are having just by making the switch outweighs the price on a large scale.
Here at Varn, we are switching to Ecotricity. Ecotricity supply electricity and gas from renewable sources and they are building more sustainable energy solutions as time goes on, including a green gas solution that runs on grass.
3. Install a smart meter
Smart meters are a great way to track your energy usage in real time. They also help feedback data to your energy supplier, so you can only pay for what you are using.
Using your smart meter, you can measure small changes you make throughout the office and visualise how much energy actions such as boiling the kettle use up. This can help you improve your practice and work out ways to cut back on your energy usage.
4. Recycle as much as you can
Businesses have to pay for recycling services, meaning that they are less likely to recycle at all. Businesses create more recycling waste than individuals and make up for a large proportion of waste ending up in landfills that could be recycled. There are many services you can sign up for that offer to collect your recycling for a small cost.
We have also signed up to some of the TerraCycle schemes. These mean you can collect waste that otherwise isn’t widely recylcled. You collect these items and send them off with a free post label and they wash and break down the items ready to be made into new things. Items you can recycle include:
- Crisp Packets
- Biscuit and Snack Wrappers
- Beach Plastic
- Bread Bags
- Cigarette Waste
- Pet Food Packaging
- Disposable Gloves
- Writing Instruments
It is free to sign up to the programs and you can either send them off yourself or take them to a collection point to support charities.
5. Switch to eco-friendly products and supplies
This is a rather general point but it applies to everything you may buy in for your business. Things to consider are cleaning products, pantry items, bathroom products and stationary etc.
There are many places that offer refills on commonly used items including hand soap, washing up liquid and even dishwasher tablets. In Bradford-on-Avon, where we are based, there is a store called Christine’s Sustainable Supermarket which does refills and other items with plastic-free packaging.
We have also switched our milk order to glass bottles. These get put out after we have used them to be cleaned and reused by the company that sells the milk. This helps eliminate waste from packaging, as the plastic bottles would usually get thrown away.
As well as this, we have switched our loo roll to a more eco-friendly option from Who Gives A Crap. We have ordered two boxes of each type so we can test them out and then continue with the ones we prefer. The company makes their toilet roll from either recycled paper or bamboo. They prize themselves on a completely plastic-free product and we were delighted to find that the delivery no plastic what-so-ever.
Food waste is a large contributor to waste that goes to landfills. This includes fruit and veg remains as well as gone off and uneaten food. If you start collecting the food waste at your office you can help use this waste for good.
Creating a compost box in the vicinity of your office can be useful to all involved. By creating compost you can then use it to plant trees or plants around your building.
If there aren’t many green spaces around you, you can donate your compost to the community or start a company allotment and put the waste to use.
Not only are you reducing the amount of waste you are putting to landfill, but you are also reusing and reducing this waste to be used to create a positive impact on the environment.
7. Conduct office competitions
Getting the rest of the team as motivated as you are can take some time. It can take some real pushing and encouraging.
To help motivate your staff to work on improving their eco-friendliness, you could set internal competitions and offer environmentally friendly prizes to the winners of the competitions.
You could use the collection boxes for TerraCycle as a competition point for staff and award the people who collect the most items for recycling with the prize. You could make it a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly challenge.
What more can we do?
We are not perfect and will always welcome new ideas and practices in to make our business more eco-friendly. If you have any suggestions and ideas on what we can do to improve our practices and become more eco-friendly, we welcome your advice. Get in touch at [email protected] to give us your suggestions!