There are lots of reasons why business owners should introduce the concept of sustainability into their workplace. A truly sustainable approach to business means making decisions that are environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable – a business model based on the triple bottom line. Being a sustainable business is a great way to distinguish your business from your competitors and show your customers you care about the environment. In doing so you might even attract new customers and save your business money.
If you’re a business owner on Waiheke there’s lots you can do to reduce your environmental impact and help support the wider local economy and community.
- Fix dripping taps and leaking pipes as quickly as possible.
- Install aerators on taps and flow-restrictors on shower-heads to reduce water use.
- Install water saving ‘gizmos’ on single flush toilets.
- Use septic/eco-friendly cleaning products or ask your cleaner to switch to them.
- Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs and turn off lights when you are not using them.
- Turn appliances off at the wall when they are not being used. Standby power accounts for up to 25% of power use in an office – this is wasted energy and money.
- Use curtains in winter and open doors and windows in summer instead of using air conditioning.
- Take advantage of natural sunlight for heating and light.
- Bring some plants into the office. They look good and will clean the air for you.
- Replace old appliances with energy efficient models.
- Compost your office food waste instead of sending it to landfill. Bokashi compost systems [link] are ideal for small offices because they can be kept inside and they don’t smell. If you don’t want to compost your waste instead try to find someone with chooks or pigs that might want your scraps.
- Use only fairtrade coffee, tea and sugar in your office.
- Have a coffee plunger, teapot and plenty of mugs in the office so staff can make coffees instead of buying takeaways.
- Encourage staff to use re-useable coffee cups instead of disposable ones which can’t be recycled.
- Have a shared lunch with your colleagues once a week using leftovers, home grown or local produce.
- Consider starting a container garden to grow salad leaves and herbs for staff to use in lunches.
- Make a carpool roster for staff.
- Encourage staff to ride a bike, walk or catch a bus to walk. This might mean providing showers and space for people to store bikes during the day.
- Try allowing staff to tele-commute one or two days per week.
- Run office errands all at once instead of making multiple deliveries and pick-ups in a day.
Reduce, reuse and recycle:
- Set up a recycling programme for your office. Some things to consider are how you can reduce your waste disposal costs and how your waste may otherwise be used in the community. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!
- Cardboard boxes might be useful for gardeners or people moving house.
- Clothes can be used for mechanics rags.
- Untanalised scrap wood can be used for firewood.
- Artists and craftspeople might be able to ‘upcycle’ things you would otherwise throw away.
- Take advantage of the free Gulf News Recycling column to find takers for your quality waste.
- Think about how you can apply the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle to your business.
- All recyclables need to be cleaned and separated in order for them to be of any value. Ensure plastic and glass food containers are rinsed and lids are removed and only recycle paper that is clean and uncontaminated by food or other organic matter.
- Only print emails and documents when really necessary. If you do have to print something make it double-sided.
- Use misprints as note paper.
- Buy 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
- Make computer files rather than paper files when possible.
- Make sure any paper waste produced is properly recycled.
- Choose products (food or office supplies) that don’t have excessive packaging
- Choose a cloth bag instead of a plastic shopping bag
- Use a glass or tuppaware container instead of plastic cling wrap for storing food
- Choose paper or glass packaging instead of plastic
- Encourage customers to use a re-useable coffee cup instead of a disposable cup
- Use newspaper instead of plastic bags to line the rubbish bin
- Encourage staff, visitors and students to use refillable/re-useable water bottles and coffee cups
- Refill your cleaning product bottles by buying in bulk or purchasing cleaning products from a bulk supplier on Waiheke (the WRT!)
- Reuse clean plastic bin liners instead of throwing them all into the rubbish bin. All plastics with a number 1-7 on them can be recycled on Waiheke. Make sure they don’t get put in the rubbish bin.
- Polystyrene can also be recycled now on Waiheke. Take it to the Transfer Station in Ostend.