Category Archives: Sustainability Initiatives

How to Protect Our Water Sources – the Ultimate Guide

Protect Our Water SourcesThe water sources across the country are fast becoming exhausted and polluted. Today, around 40 percent of rivers are too contaminated for fishing and swimming, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If people fail to act now, water shortages could be a fact of life a short decade from now.

By simply implementing a few sustainability initiatives to conserve water and prevent pollution, businesses have the power to ensure water sources will remain clean and secure in their area. There are several ways companies in every industry can get involved.

Cleaning Products

Antibacterial soaps and some cleaning products contain triclosan, a pesticide that harms aquatic life and may lead to the development of antibiotic resistant superbugs. A simple switch to products that do not contain the chemical, such as regular soap, keeps bacteria under control without presenting a risk to water supplies.

Storm Drains

Storm drains should only be used for water and never for getting rid of other liquids like motor oil, detergent, paint, chemical cleaners, fertilizer, or pesticides. In many cities, stormwater is incorporated into local waterways, so it really is extra important to keep it uncontaminated.

Paving

Keeping paving to a minimum enables water to soak into the ground, diluting contaminants that would otherwise end up in stormwater. At the same time, this reduces the risk of flooding and improves ground water supplies. Businesses can also reduce their use of water by sweeping paved areas clean instead of using a hose.

Fleet and Vehicles

Company vehicles and fleets should have leaks repaired immediately to stop oil and other liquids entering storm drains.

Appliances

Appliances that use water in the workplace should be water-efficient — dual-flush toilets, for example, where there is less use of water to flush urine.

Plants

Native and drought-resistant plants require the least watering and can significantly reduce water use for a company’s landscape.

Pesticides and Fertilizers

Pesticides and chemical fertilizers pollute surface water and ground water, presenting a health risk for employees and residents alike.

Cigarette Butts

Smoking areas should include a cigarette receptacle to dissuade employees from dropping cigarette butts on the ground, where they may be washed into storm drains.

Informing Others

Employers can make an even bigger impact by teaching staff about sustainability initiatives that workers can enact in their own homes. In addition to variations on the above, employees can do the following:

  • Never flush medicine down the toilet or drain. If the city has a pharmaceutical collection program, employers should provide staff with this information. Alternatively, it is possible to destroy pills in a bottle using water or vinegar.
  • Picking up after pets avoids waste-contaminating stormwater.
  • Non-toxic household products reduce the amount of chemicals being released into water supplies.
  • Installing a low-flow shower head and cutting the length of showers can reduce water use every day.

For businesses already working on other sustainability initiatives, expanding to water conservation and protection is a great opportunity to make an impact on the local environment. These few simple steps can help ensure that residents and workers in the area continue to have access to a sufficient amount of clean water for years to come.

Could Reusable Packaging be the Solution to Ever-increasing Office Waste?

reusable packagingWhen people think of office waste, the first thing that comes to mind is paper. Offices are renowned for using reams of paper every day, for invoices, interoffice memos, and more — most of which inevitably ends up in the trash. For companies trying to become more sustainable businesses, this can be a major problem.

Fortunately, by implementing a recycling program, encouraging reuse, and simply relying more on digital files, companies can reduce paper waste considerably. But there’s another kind of office waste that often goes overlooked, which must also be addressed in order to create a truly sustainable work environment: packaging.

Any time an office orders new supplies, the package they came in is thrown away without a second thought. This can include anything from cardboard boxes to plastic wrapping to packing peanuts. This type of waste can equal or even exceed a business’s paper waste production and greatly increase their carbon footprint. But the solution to this problem is simple. Employing reusable packaging can help companies eliminate this type of office waste and grow one step closer to becoming sustainable businesses.

Using Reusable Packaging in the Workplace

There are a number of ways that a company can use reusable packaging to reduce their carbon footprint. For instance, many companies store mountains of cardboard boxes, containing things like old financial records, equipment that’s not currently in use, and more. Over time, these cardboard boxes will tear, break, and ultimately be thrown away. Replacing those boxes when they fail with (recycled) plastic bins and tubs for storage is a great way to implement packaging that can be reused for decades.

Another thing sustainable businesses can do to reduce their carbon footprint is to seek out suppliers who employ reusable packaging. Office Depot is one such company, having introduced an eco-friendly policy last year to help eliminate office waste. Rather than cardboard boxes filled with plastic air pillows, shipments up to 20 pounds are now delivered in recycled paper bags, and shipped in reusable tote bags. Other office supply companies have similar waste-reducing policies. Finding these companies and ordering from them in the future will greatly help a company to reduce their carbon footprint.

Office waste is a major problem that many organizations do not address properly. Being on the lookout for types of waste and implementing eco-friendly policies, such as reusable packaging, to eliminate that waste, are important steps towards achieving sustainability.

Every Organization Needs an Environmental Management System

environmental management systemsAn Environmental Management System (EMS) helps sustainable businesses implement systems that help reduce an organization’s impact on the environment while improving operating efficiency. An EMS is comparable to a financial management system, but instead of measuring expenditure, income and financial performance, an EMS helps an organization meet sustainability goals, comply with environmental regulations, and improve health and safety for both employees and the community.

EMS Features

Every EMS has the following features:

  • They process, review, and improve an organization’s environmental goals, while analyzing long-term and short-term environmental impact – as well as how the company is meeting legal requirements.
  • They create programs that will help the company meet targets and track and measure the results.
  • They improve employee awareness and competence in environmental issues.
  • They allow companies to continuously make improvements to their sustainability efforts.

Benefits of Having an EMS

There are many benefits of having an EMS, including the ability to help organizations:

  • Minimize environmental impact
  • Reduce waste
  • Reduce energy costs
  • Make the most of all available resources
  • Improve corporate image, performance, and profit
  • Improve compliance
  • Increase employees’ understanding of the importance of environmental concerns and the extent of their own, individual actions

Sustainable businesses who want to manage their efforts and ensure they are meeting compliance requirements need an EMS. These systems remove the complications that often come with monitoring objectives and compliance requirements. This results in faster achievement of sustainability goals, including lowering costs and reducing environmental impact while avoiding fines and government intervention.