Five steps for creating a resource-savvy workplace

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It’s sustainable materials month at the Bioregional offices so Sian Cooke shares how you can get your co-workers engaged with being more responsible with office products!

Sustainable material use in the office means using more products that are made locally or from waste or recycled materials. It’s also about minimising the use of resources in the first place – especially since research has found that many businesses underestimate how much waste is costing them. It could be as much as 4% of turnover!

But we all know how hard it can be to implement change in the workplace – especially when it involves new products and changes to long-standing systems. So once you have the go ahead for some cost-saving and planet-friendly changes to your office, employ these steps to make sure everyone is on board.

  1. Inform

It’s no use instigating a responsible procurement process, paper saving scheme or new sustainable product if your colleagues are unsure of why it’s a good idea or what the benefits will be.

Host a short seminar with tea and biscuits (Fairtrade of course!) where you outline your plans, explaining the reasons behind any changes, detailing the positive outcomes and allow time for questions. Use infographics, easy to understand facts and send an email with the relevant information afterwards.

  1. Engage

Enable your co-workers to feel ownership over new changes by consulting them or inviting suggestions for sustainable office products and ways to minimise resource use.  You could even hold a competition with prizes for the best suggestions. People are much more likely to feel responsibility for an action if they have been involved in the decision-making process.

Those who are interested in getting involved further could set up a group to continue to look at new ideas and monitor impact. Stride Treglown, a leading architecture firm, have sustainability champions who identify opportunities and lead on putting actions in place.

  1. Make it easy

One of our mantras at Bioregional is “make it easy to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing.” You may not see, for example, much uptake in a local procurement process if you don’t provide some examples of businesses that provide the products needed.

Embedding sustainability within existing processes saves hassle and establishes the practice as the norm. So set your printers to double-sided print as standard, stop buying plastic cups and switch to FSC product suppliers and quick wins will be achieved!

  1. Say thank you

Sometimes making changes to well-established practices can be all stick and no carrot. It is surprising how far a small present for getting involved can go, so let your employees and co-workers know you are thankful for their engagement.

Double points if the gift helps your cause – reusable water bottles, travel mugs or canvas bags are all on message! Our partners at Singita gave all of their staff water bottles to reduce plastic use (complete with the One Planet Living logo)!

Singita Water bottles

  1. Keep challenging

Once a few smaller initiatives have been launched, look at the bigger picture – could new office furniture be reclaimed? What suppliers of recycled office stationery are there? What else can be sourced locally or from renewable or re-used sources? B&Q, another of our partners, has started using waste wood in the construction of some of its products!

It can be daunting to implement new practices in the office but by starting small and involving everyone on the journey, you may be surprised by how quickly it all becomes second nature. (And the cost savings won’t hurt either!)

Every month at Bioregional, we run activities around one of our One Planet Living principles – all of which help us move towards a world in which people live happy, healthy lives within the limits of the planet. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to see what we are up to!

Photo credit (c) A.Jackson/FotoDocument

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