Reduce at work
information for businesses
1. Buy from sustainable businesses and influence your suppliers
- Workplace cleaning and other chemicals could be selected for non-toxic qualities, so that they do not pollute waterways or hazard users. NZ Environmental Choice accreditation is a good starting point for buyers. Prefer packaging that is recyclable and buy in bulk to reduce the number of containers.
- Choose floor coverings of natural materials such as stone, wood,cork, bamboo or wool, or if synthetic ensure that they have been and can again be recycled, such as the nylon carpet tiles from Interface.
- Select durable furniture and equipment, considering craft made new or second hand as an alternative to cheap short-life items which tend to use plastics and glued wood fibre such as MDF.
- When you order items, request they be sent plastic free if possible; suggest deliveries in boxes rather than bags and prefer paper over plastic.
2. Seek 'low-hanging fuit' to make a start
- The easy wins will allow your business to celebrate successes and involve staff in the sustainable changes.
- Switch consumable for more sustainable alternatives - look at getting Eco brand cleaning products, paper tape over plastic and paper courier bags.
- Print only when required, default to double-sided in copiers and purchase recycled paper.
- Give staff reusable products in gift hampers to reduce waste
3. Foster sustainable behaviour - so staff will own the changes
- Rather than telling staff what changes you have chosen, include them in the discussions along the way, find out what is important to them, get feedback on the change processes as they take place.
- You can encourage individual sustainable behaviour through providing workshops or team building activities that have an environmental focus (for example, a staff beeswax wrap-making workshop or a beach clean-up event which highlights plastic waste).
4. Communicate your business' sustainability activities in a transparent way
- Consumers are aware (download a ColmarBrunton research report) of the ability of companies to 'green wash', so while it is important to communicate your activities to customers, make sure you are clear, leaving no room for confusion. This point is important for your brand's reputation as customers are likely influenced by user reviews and recommendations (link to Neilsen research)
5. Other NZ resources on the web
- Target Sustainability is an initiative of Christchurch City Council to assist businesses to become more sustainable through waste reduction, water and power-use efficiency.
- The Natural Step framework for sustainability guides business and local government towards resource efficiency. This independent foundation has experience internationally and within New Zealand.
- Simple principles for sustainability decision-making are displayed by Bioregional on their website. They refer to 'one planet living' because we have no spare planet to live on.
- Basics on low levels of recyling e-waste such as computers, printers, phones. Then web-search for E-waste collection in your city or region of NZ.
Ideas and advice for individual staff
If you have a workplace that you feel could be doing more to reduce their impact, we suggest you find resources to support your concerns and provide some ideas for solutions
Be careful not to become the only ‘sustainability champion’
While sustainable changes often rely on one driven individual, try to find some allies early to make your environmental push easier as well as not entirely reliant on you. A culture of sustainability is important to make real changes, and that is a lot easier and longer-lasting once you have a couple of helpers on board.