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Taking those first, small steps towards reducing our environmental impact at VST.

russell davies

Virtual Sales Team is a small business, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a real difference when it comes to our environmental impact and of course, being aware of this becomes even more important as we grow.

If you’re a small business that hasn’t before thought much about your carbon footprint or how to reduce it, it can seem daunting. However, you’re actually in a great position because when you’re looking at reducing your impact for the first time, all the quick easy wins are there for the taking! In the space of about 10 minutes I could quickly come up with a list of 10 or so environmental goals that I believe we can achieve at VST. Some goals will be short-term, some long-term and that’s fine.

Some ideas we like are:

  • Make sure your office waste is separated properly and sorted after collection
  • Get milk delivered in reusable glass bottles instead of all that plastic
  • Change your cleaning/hygiene products that you use to eco-friendly brands and even get the bottles refilled if you can (Daily Bread in Northampton is great for this)
  • Recycle your toner/ink cartridges
  • Reduce paper waste by using more digital documents
  • Change office lights to LEDs to save energy (and money) in the long-term
  • Think about how staff get to/from work, could you introduce a Cycle to Work scheme or carpool?

As you can see, some of these actions are easier than others, but nothing there should be too hard, we have made progress with a few things in just a couple of weeks.

 

Make sure your office waste is separated properly and sorted after collection.

After a quick conversation with our waste collection supplier, we found out that they sort all the waste after collection and have a target of sending only 10% of it to landfill. This is very encouraging, so we quickly ramped up our own waste sorting efforts in the business. We already had some recycling bins, but they were a bit hidden away and weren’t being used very much. A few easy steps have made it so that we probably need to buy some bigger recycling bins very soon!
We asked our cleaners to stop putting plastic bin liners in all the little wastepaper bins around the office (we had 13 of these, that’s 13 needless plastic bags in the bin every week) and asked staff to only use these bins for wastepaper. This immediately makes people more aware of the rubbish they are throwing away every day. We moved those recycling bins to a more prominent location and stuck up a poster to show what could be recycled, et voila! All of a sudden most of our waste at VST is going into the recycling bin instead of general waste.

I’m also finding that staff are coming to me to ask what can and can’t be recycled and telling me about what they do at home. This is really great as it’s becoming a part of our culture to talk about reducing our environmental impact, both at work and at home.

 

Get milk delivered in reusable glass bottles instead of all that plastic.

This was really easy! We already had our milk delivered by Milk & More in plastic bottles, but the milk is exactly same price per litre delivered in reusable glass bottles. All we had to do was change over to glass and nominate someone to put the crate of empties out at the end of the day.

Did you know that glass milk bottles get reused several times, until they become too scuffed and scratched? At that point the glass can be melted down and made into new bottles, and the great thing about glass is that is doesn’t degrade in quality when it’s recycled.

Recycle your toner/ink cartridges

Another quick win, most print companies have a recycling scheme for their cartridges and toners. We have a Ricoh machine, so we just had to register with their scheme which allows you to print return labels as and when you need them. You can either get them picked up or drop them off at a collection point, and you can reuse the packaging that your new ink comes in. Whichever print manufacturer you’re with, just try searching online for their recycling scheme.
We only have one machine at VST, so we don’t have many toners to recycle, but why put them into landfill when it’s so easy to get them recycled properly?

Our next target is going to be reducing the amount of paper we use in the business. We already use Office 365 and cloud accounting but there is more to be done. In the next environmental blog, we’ll talk about something we’re trialling to reduce the amount of note paper and post-its that get used every day.