Protecting the planet is everyone’s responsibility. With the alarming rate of climate change, there are increasing concerns for the state of the natural environment.
According to the World Health Organization, “Climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress alone” between 2030 and 2050.
It’s no surprise that many corporations are contributing to climate change. However, conscientious and responsible companies can implement sustainable and eco-friendly business practices.
There are many steps organizations can take to incorporate sustainability into the workplace:
- Instituting comprehensive recycling and composting programs. When developing a recycling and composting program, consider the waste hierarchy to learn how to approach waste management and where your company can implement changes.
- Analyzing their supply chain paying extra attention to what materials are being used and their ecological footprint, and
- Analyzing the impact of day-to-day operations. Measuring an organizations carbon footprint includes examining on-site energy production and other industrial activities, facilities and the percent of occupancy, facility energy use such as electricity, corporate travel and corporate waste.
Employers should discuss their organizations sustainability goals and practices, so everyone is on the same page and can work towards the same goals. Policies and procedures should be in writing with concrete steps to achieve goals. They should be regularly reviewed and modified as the business expands and evolves.
Senior leadership and management can lead by example so that sustainability becomes a part of the workplace culture.
With the return to the office for many companies across the world, re-establishing and re-defining the office is one way to start down this path.
A clean and organized workspace reduces germs, is good for employee well-being, creates a positive impression for visitors and increases productivity. By analyzing individual workspaces, employers can find sustainability issues or places for improvement in their day-to-day operations.
Taking advantage of technology can play a role in reducing waste. Paper documents could be created, shared and stored digitally. Manual processes could be streamlined with technology to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
University Canada West (UCW), a proud member of GUS Canada, is a post-secondary institution that focuses on sustainability and the environment. Through many eco-friendly practices, UCW creates a healthy, safe environment for all students, faculty and staff.
When UCW recently moved and expanded to their new Vancouver House Campus, the University established strict regulations and guidelines regarding waste management. Some of these regulations and guidelines included:
- Reducing the need for materials
- Identifying materials that could be reused or repurposed from the UCW West Pender Campus
- Ensuring materials contained recycled content where possible
- Recovering hard to recycle by-products from purchases
- Refusing to use materials that were red-listed or compromised indoor air quality
UCW also prioritizes sustainability on an everyday basis through an active recycling program.
At every dining area and across both UCW campuses, there are waste separation bins: food waste (organics), containers (plastic, glass and aluminum), and wood fibers (paper and cardboard).
These bins are part of the University’s efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle for a more sustainable working and learning environment.
The initiatives are transferrable to any business and help create greener and positive working environments where employees want to work.
In addition to the above ideas, organizations can do more. They can encourage employees to use reusable water bottles by offering convenient water dispensers throughout the office, use recycled paper for printing if it can’t be avoided, offer carpooling or public transportation subsidies, use compostable garbage bags and adopt eco-friendly cleaning products.
To learn more about UCW and its other sustainability initiatives, visit ucanwest.ca/about/sustainability.