Simple changes to make
your office (and commute)
more environmentally friendly
We’ve all seen it in prize-winning wildlife photographs and TV shows: a tiny seahorse clinging to a cotton bud or a dead turtle with a stomach full of jellyfish impersonators. It’s no exaggeration to say that plastic is one of the biggest environmental issues the planet is facing today.
The numbers are hard to comprehend. According to Surfers Against Sewage, there are “approximately 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons. That is about the same as 1,345 adult blue whales. And 500 times the number of stars in our galaxy.”
It’s easy to think that plastic pollution is affecting distant oceans, but it starts on our own doorsteps. Natalie Fee, founder of Bristol’s City to Sea, went to the banks of the River Avon near Bristol and challenged herself to collect as much plastic litter as she could in two minutes. She found a shocking amount of plastic in that short time, counting 25 plastic bottles, nine lighters, four bottles tops, two dummies, a small wheel and plenty more.
So, what can we do to reduce our own plastic use?
Surfers Against Sewage suggest refusing plastic in the first place. Get into the habit of carrying your own water bottle or invest in a reusable coffee cup. Chilly’s Bottles are on a mission to get us all into this habit, offering sleek, steel water bottles that use advanced vacuum technology to keep liquids cool and refreshing. As well as being designed to a convenient carry size, the bottles also come with multiple customisation options, with loads of colours and patterns.
Here at Tusko HQ, we’re ready to try going plastic free. We’re getting our own branded reusable water bottles to take along to shoots and meetings. Our photoshop whizzkid Rachael has created an amazing poster to encourage everyone in our office to think about how much plastic they’re using, and we’ve put it on display above our water machine.
When it comes to coffee, the team at Boston Tea Party have had enough, and are taking action with the hashtag #NoExcuseForSingleUse. They’ve taken the massive step of not using single use coffee cups altogether. Instead, if you buy a take-away coffee you can either bring or buy your own reusable cup, or there’s a flexible loan scheme in case you’ve been forgetful before your morning caffeine fix. You get your full deposit back on dropping the borrowed cup back to any cafe.
How about plastic in the workplace?
While we can all sip our morning coffee from a reusable cup, we should acknowledge that our working environments often contribute to the plastic problem too. From excess packaging to plastic cups and waste paper, environmental issues at work seem to be lurking at every water cooler. But there’s plenty that businesses can do to cut their plastic usage right down. And that won’t just benefit Mother Nature, as studies have shown that sustainable brands apparently outperform their peers by 120%.
If providing everyone with branded bottles isn’t in the budget right now, there are still affordable alternatives to chucking away single-use plastic cups. If possible, find out who orders your company’s office supplies. Consider persuading that colleague to switch suppliers, to either cups made of recycled plastic or a biodegradable version that can be composted (try Vegware).
If possible, then display clear signage in the office that informs staff about the new cups along with clear instructions for correct disposal and/or recycling. We’ve taken this step in our office, so to save you time you can use our poster in your office. Download our Recycled Cups poster here. Consider making sure all recycling bins in the office are clearly labelled to keep things quick and easy.
Use paper wisely
Another big environmental office issue is wasting paper when printing. Use preview functions to spot any errors before you print, and double check your printer settings before you press the big green button. It will save you time, paper and energy. Also, make sure your settings are set to automatically print double-sided, changing that if and when you need to.
There are plenty of high quality recycled paper products on the market, producing the same professional results as their non-recycled counterparts with significantly less environmental impact. Cocoon Recycled Paper have come up with a unique production process that saves more energy than making paper from scratch. The paper they reuse doesn’t end up being incinerated or dumped, creating fewer CO2 emissions.
Finally, make sure there are clearly marked paper recycling bins close to printers and desks, so that being sustainable in the office is as simple and easy as possible.
Give people a reason
Incentivise your colleagues. It’s understandable that sometimes we have to focus on our deadlines without worrying about trying to save the planet at the same time. But creating environmental awareness in the office doesn’t have to be an extra thing to put on the to-do list. Appoint a Green Champion, encourage desk plants, or hold a volunteer beach clean as a team-building exercise - every little will help to cement eco-friendly practices in your colleagues’ minds. It is also a progressive, forward-thinking company policy that will impress customers and visitors to your office space.
International organisations are encouraging major companies to reduce their plastic usage and sharing their tips to getting consumers involved. Will McCallum, Head of the Oceans campaign at Greenpeace UK, has written a book on this subject called How To Give Up Plastic.
At Tusko, we’re ready to take the big step of going as plastic-free as possible. As I was putting this blog together I was stunned by the statistics and images I found. It feels more important than ever to be aware of the plastic problem, and if we can all do our best individually, locally and internationally, we might just be able to stem the plastic tide.