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Getting Started With Sustainability at Work

Submitted by on July 14, 2010 – 2:30 pm

If you’ve made a personal commitment to behave more sustainably then you’ve probably started making changes in your life.  You’ve already changed your light bulbs to compact fluorescent, you’ve started taking the bus instead of the car, and you sometimes walk or cycle to places.

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And now you start to think about how you can translate these behaviors into other areas of your life.  Your work, for example.  How can you as an individual take these values, and embed them into your workplace?

Even if you own the business, it will be hard work to do it on your own.  You will need to find a group of like-minded individuals. Then, arrange a meeting, have a discussion, and figure out where you can make a start.

There will probably be plenty of opportunities for you  to consider.  Here’s a few ideas:


  • Recycling.  Start in the office, and then extend to the rest of the company operation.
  • Add compost (or Bokashi) bins into kitchen areas.
  • Waste management.  Do a waste audit (collect rubbish bins, and then go through the contents and see if everything that has been thrown away is really rubbish – should it be recycled or composted, for example?


  • Are lights left on after everyone has left a room, or the building?  This can be a significant cost.
  • Are rooms/areas heated (or cooled) when there’s no-one there to be made comfortable?  Ditto.
  • Are PCs left on when people go home?  Personal computers use a surprising amount of energy (can be up to 30% of IT energy bill).


You’ll probably come up with some great alternatives – these ideas are just to get you talking.

Pick one to start with, think about how it could be done, and then talk to whoever has the power to make it so.  If you can show that you’ve thought about it, and particularly if you can show that the company can save money, it should be relatively straightforward to land your first initiative.

Now, on with the next!

About David Laing

I run my own business, Sustained Consulting, which is focused on helping businesses to behave more sustainably.  I have an MBA, and fifteen years of leadership experience.  Amongst others, I’ve worked in a mining consultancy (!), for a software vendor, and for large technology services providers. I’m passionate about sustainability and climate change, and in 2009 decided it was time for me to take a more proactive role, and to help businesses become more sustainable. I’m involved with a range of different activities and projects.  Amongst other things I’m: *  helping to develop a voluntary carbon market in New Zealand, *  developing sustainability reports *  developing a number of waste to energy projects, *  leading community projects (community garden, saving the local bowling club from property developers, *  reinstating civil defence) * resurrecting a second-hand solar panel (personal project) and other things which I’ll tell you about later I have a wealth of eclectic knowledge and experience, read widely and I enjoy making connections between different ideas and concepts.

Email me: davidalaing@gmail.com

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