As announced on Friday, this week Life Size Media is undertaking the 7 Days to Sustainability Challenge. I have been allocated the lovely subject of ‘Waste and Recycling’ and I’m keen to get started.
Into the lion’s den
As they say, measuring is the first step towards managing. And when you’re trying to reduce your waste you can guess what that means…
Into the bin for me!
Apart from the smell, this was quite an interesting experience. I was glad to see that as an office we’re not throwing away that much. Some key things I learnt were:
- We only seem to be throwing away about half a bag of rubbish a week.
- Most of this is food
- Some of it is plastics we’re not sure are recyclable or not
- A few things are being thrown that should be in the recycling
- Our bin smells!
So, my next step is to find out exactly what we can and cannot recycle and whether I should be worrying about the food that we throw away…
Ladies what lunch
With everyone working longer and longer hours it’s very easy to think you don’t have time for lunch. The UK was found to be the number one country for people eating lunch at their desks.
In addition, longer hours means less time at home, so the healthy home made lunch has gone out the window. Judging by the queues in M+S most of us are buying ready made lunches. This is harder on our pockets and harsher on the environment, with a scary amount of food packaging needing throwing away.
So in a throw back to the good old days of school packed lunches, I asked everyone at Life Size to bring in some lunch from home. Most of us opted for left overs as the easy option, with the expectation of Charlotte who rustled up a prawn salad. What we discovered is that brining your own lunch is not as difficult as it sounds, especially if you opt for leftovers. It’s also a lot more filling, so maybe we’ll be able to cut down on those afternoon biscuits. And, most importantly for me… no waste, either packaging or food!
Well done team!
To follow on from our wholesome lunch I decided to opt for some even more wholesome arts and crafts. I wanted to change the way we think about the things we discard, so opted for a recycle bin challenge.
This self invented lunch time activity involves gathering your team and providing them with some craft essentials (scissors, string, pens, tape etc). Then, emptying your recycle bin (I wouldn’t advice doing this with a rubbish bin!) and starting a 10 minute timer.
People can make whatever they fancy, from the practical to the artistic. Whilst the time pressure put some under stress everyone generally seemed to enjoy encouraging their inner Blue Peter presenter.
From the horse’s mouth
After getting down and dirty in the Life Size Media bin I decided it was time to talk to someone who knows what they’re doing. Lucy from First Mile was kind enough to come in and tell me all about what happens to our waste and recycling.
This was a really educational experience. As someone who has always been a very keen recycler it seems I’ve picked up on some recycling myths that Lucy was quick to dispel.
- Washing things out: Yes, you can’t put large amounts of food in the recycling but no, you don’t need to wash things to hospital hygiene standards. So I can now stop fretting that I’m using up more energy washing things than recycling them is saving!
- Plastic bags: Are recyclable!! Why I’d decided this wasn’t the case I don’t know but now I can finally deal with the under-the-sink plastic bag mountain both here and at home.
- You can recycle more than you think: More things than I expected turned out to be recyclable and even the complicated things like toasters and lightbulbs can be, if you go about it the right way.
However, the most exciting discovery of all was that by being with First Mile we are in fact a zero waste to landfill business! First Mile recycles everything they can and the rest gets incinerated and turned into energy. How exciting, we’re part of a technology driven sustainable future already!
If you’d like to talk to First Mile about waste and recycling options for your business then visit: www.theFirstMile.co.uk. Sadly they don’t do collections at home but you can always sneak it all into work!
Sometimes to engage people in sustainability you need to find a way to appeal to them, whether through sympathy, fun, humour or team work. I decided to look for some ways to make everyone want to do their bit…
Not everyone find recycling as enjoyable as I do, so I thought this little feature might help inject some fun into it! As well as hopefully getting more things recycled this might help us get a bit fitter and improve our co-ordination. Rio 2016 basketball team – here we come!
Here at Life Size Media we have some lovely branded notepads printed on recycled paper. However, you know what they say ‘reduce reuse then recycle’. So here’s an idea to encourage a bit more reusing. These little personalized notepads are made out of our scrap paper tray. This is where printing that goes wrong and non-confidential, one-sided documents go. Unfortunately the scrap paper tray is over by the printer, a good 2 m away from most of our desks, so inevitably we don’t often use it. These mini notepads should be perfect for those things you need to draft or jot down, but don’t need to refer back to. And once you’re done with them everyone- remember to recycle them!
Incentives and encouragement are all very well, but sometimes you just need to force people! So, to offset my lovely carrots, I’ve decided for a bit of stick.
A key tip that First Mile gave me was ‘if people have bins by their desk, they’ll put everything in there’. This is one of the big reasons in lots of offices that not enough gets recycled- if you have the choice between not leaving your seat and dropping it in a bin, or walking all the way over to the recycling point it’s clear what most people will do.
Now, our offices is luckily full of very keen recyclers, but just to help out anyone who’s having a lazy day, I’ve now taken all the bins out of the office apart from the 2 recycle bins and the main waste bin in the kitchen. If people have to get up anyway, they’re much more likely to make the right choice when they get there.
Most things you end up printing in an office, even one that tries to avoid paper use, are documents for someone to check that a client is never going to see. So there’s no reason for it to be printed super high-quality. Fast draft is good enough for almost everything you need to print, so to help save ink you can set your default print setting so you don’t have to remember each time.
Talking of saving ink- if your office is building up a backlog of empty cartridges then it’s easy to get your hands on charity recycle bags. Lots of charities give out bags for you to fill with cartridges and send off to them. This ensures they get recycles and helps good causes!
Life Size Media is a creative campaigns agency, dedicated to promoting sustainable innovators. We offer our clients the complete spectrum of communications services from film, website and print projects through to sustained public relations campaigns.