Going Green – Using Your Influence

by Tina Kelly – 

Bookmark this page. December for many of us means getting caught up in planning and preparations; there is much hullabaloo leading up to and during the holiday season. This article’s topic may be ill-timed: there are other things occupying our headspace. I suggest giving it a read and revisit it early in the new year.

At home we have our routines. We are in control of our choices, choices to create less waste, use less energy, live sustainably … and then we head out of the house to only feel frustrated or helpless.

What if we could influence other places we spend time, like our workplace? Whether an employer is a big company or small business, there are likely large or small shifts that can be made. Some initiatives take very little cost, investment or resources. An employer may not be in the know or be overwhelmed with where to begin, but having someone offer to spearhead a project or two could be just the nudge needed. What makes sense for your workplace may vary or depend on its size and the type of industry it is.

Waste reduction is a good place to start. Many businesses have gone paperless for forms, billing and receipts. I must confess: I could print less. What I print is not confidential so I always use the other side of the paper if I haven’t printed double-sided. You can also set your printer preferences to print both sides. Save energy by turning off lights and electronics when the business is closed.

Stock the staff room or kitchen with real cutlery; staff can then refuse plastic take-out versions if picking up lunch. Thrift stores are a great place to pick up inexpensive miscellaneous cutlery. Hosting a party or having an event? Consider renting real dishes and cutlery. Research caterers who provide food on returnable and reusable trays and dishes. Ensure your staff room has a place to collect kitchen scraps.

Are there hard to recycle items? Create a space where staff can gather oddball recycling items – batteries, foam, lightbulbs, etc. Offer to take them away and dispose of them properly by adding them to your personal recycling trip or, even better, maybe your employer can make this a work task.

We also spend time being a part of groups, clubs, or sports teams, either as a participant or a leader. Are there ways you can influence them to be more sustainable? A nod to the hosts of the Seaside Magazine Book Club who bring ceramic mugs from home for participants to use, a small action that over time prevents a lot of waste.

Employers should be proud and encouraged to share the positive change they are making in their workplace – with other businesses, with customers or members. Influence works in all directions. 2023 is near. Make it a year for influencing the various places we spend time outside the home.

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