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Introducing Sustainability in the Workplace

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN  FEBRUARY 2014

‘INTRODUCING SUSTAINABILITY IN THE WORKPLACE’

When speaking to people about sustainability I find there are many who are living rewarding, sustainable lives privately but are reluctant to introduce their sustainable practices in the workplace for fear of becoming known as a ‘Tree Hugger’ or worse, a ‘Green Nazi’ – a term used, in jest I must say, on my daughter while she enthusiastically attempted to introduce environmental practices in her workplace.

If you work in a medium to large organisation and you are not aware of a sustainability plan currently in place, it may be an idea to speak to management about setting up a ‘Green Team’. A ‘Green Team’ is generally an informal group of staff, including management if possible, whose task it is to educate themselves and their colleagues about environmental issues, assess the sustainability of the various practices in the organisation and develop an action plan to help the organisation improve its overall environmental performance. It may be helpful to enlist the help of a Business Sustainability professional in the initial setting up and development phase of the team to ensure its long term success.

Let’s just have a look at some of the simple things that you can tackle in most workplaces that are not costly to implement, in fact can save money, and can help to improve your workplace’s environmental performance considerably.

  • Include Business Sustainability on the agenda for all internal work meetings
  • Introduce a recycling bin system – check out www.ecobin.com.au
  • Improving Energy Efficiency – what is left on when no one is in the workplace approximately 110 hours per week?? – Place signs at light switches to remind staff to turn off lights when the space is not in use, etc.
  • Assess the purchasing of all stationery – recommend the most sustainable solution for paper, pens and other stationery requirements – check out www.ecoofficesuppliers.com.au for some great ideas
  • Re-ink (Cartridge World) or recycle (Officeworks) all print cartridges
  • Use both sides of the paper wherever possible – can save many reams of paper (trees) per year
  • Introduce a food waste management system in the staff room eg: Bokashi System
  • Switch to re-usable coffee cups and water bottles
  • Encourage management to enlist the services of a Business Sustainability Assessor to provide a comprehensive assessment of the workplace including recommendations

Get the small wins on the board to start with and then, reach for the stars. The planet and your boss, will thank you.

Next edition – Living with high temperatures – simple tips to cool down

Visit me at Ecolateral 411 Magill Road St Morris or visit www.ecolateralshop.com.au for more info on sustainability.

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How to Help Others Take the Sustainability Path

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN  JANUARY 2014

‘HOW TO HELP OTHERS TAKE THE SUSTAINABILITY PATH’

What inspires me at Ecolateral every day is discussing environmental issues and the overall topic of sustainability with our customers in the shop, the pupils at a school talk, the visitors to a festival we are participating in or the members of a like-minded association that we are involved in.  Sharing knowledge is a powerful tool in our efforts to build sustainable communities and we can all take part.

Leading by example is of course the most important thing you can do to encourage others to take the sustainability path. Share your knowledge with family and friends about the benefits of your actions without seeming like you are lecturing or judging their points of view.

Become involved in local groups who are working towards improving the environment and sustainability eg:

Encourage a number of achievable sustainable activities at your children’s school, your workplace and any other activity that you are involved in eg:

  • Introduce the Bokashi Food Waste Management System at the local school or workplace.
  • Encourage the introduction of a recycling bin system in the workplace – contact www.ecobin.com.au to find out more.
  • Put forward a proposal to workplace management highlighting the benefits of setting up a ‘green team’ to develop and implement a workplace sustainability plan and offer to assist in the process.
  • Invite your family and friends to a fashion swap party, a growing trend in the eastern states.
  • Show off your gorgeous organically grown tomatoes to encourage others to have a go at growing their own.

The unprecedented growth in electronic media has provided a powerful platform to share environmental information that encourages thought and discussion. Use it to display new products you have found that provide you with a solution to an environmental need that may motivate others to take action. 

I heard a sentence recently that resonated with me that I felt could be used in many situations but works perfectly for this topic. “We are all teachers and we are all learners, so share what you know with others and you might just be rewarded by discovering something new yourself!”

 

Next edition – Introducing Sustainability in the Workplace

Visit me at Ecolateral 411 Magill Road St Morris or visit www.ecolateralshop.com.au for more info on sustainability.

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A Vegetarian Diet – How and Why?

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN  DECEMBER 2013

‘A VEGETARIAN DIET – How and Why?’

Einstein once said, “nothing will benefit human health and increase human chances for survival for life on earth as much as evolution to a vegetarian diet.”

There is a plethora of information about the health pros and cons of a vegetarian diet to confuse even the most intelligent people amongst us. However, there is enough written about the growing rate of cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes 1 and 2, osteoporosis etc. in nations that consume high levels of animal products that it certainly requires some discussion.

The following facts are very sobering if you look at the sustainability issues around farming animals for consumption.

“It takes less water to produce a year’s food for a pure vegetarian than to produce a month’s food for a meat eater” – John Robbins, Diet for a new America

A third of the world’s land suitable for growing crops is used to produce feed for farmed animals. Fact Sheet Vegetarian Society

Farming of animals caused more emissions (18%) than the world’s entire transport system (13.5%). Fact Sheet Vegetarian Society

Concern for the poor treatment of animals in ‘factory’ farms, live export of animals and in slaughterhouses around the world has also been the catalyst for many to eliminate meat, and for some all animal products, from their diets and clothing choices.

The first question people ask when told in conversation you are vegetarian is, “how do you get enough protein in your diet?” That one is easy: nuts, legumes (lentils, red beans, chick peas, soy beans), oats, seeds, pasta and tofu all provide a good level of the protein we need in our diet for good health.

Green vegetables provide various levels of Vitamin C, B Group, Iron, Folate, Vitamin K, Omega 3 and Minerals, and so the list goes on.

Websites, books and societies are ideal for gathering information on how to achieve your nutritional requirements on a vegetarian diet.

The number of fantastic vegetarian cook books on the market and growing number of vegetarian restaurants is indicative of the increase in the awareness of the negative aspects of consuming animal products.

A great way to start is to eliminate meat from your diet on just 2 days a week and start experimenting with the numerous and fabulously tasty vegetarian meals available.

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Designing your Sustainable Home – The Key Considerations

SUSTAINABILITY ARTICLE FOR THE WEEKENDER HERALD BY LIDDY DOLMAN  OCTOBER 2013

‘DESIGNING YOUR SUSTAINABLE HOME – The Key Considerations’

So you have decided to build a new home, an exciting prospect and one that holds so many possibilities.

In this age of rising energy costs and resource depletion issues, it makes sense to make sustainability one of the important objectives on your list of criteria for your new home.

Sustainable homes require intelligent design, well thought out and detailed specification and a builder who is on the same page as your designer in respect to sustainability.

The key considerations are: Choosing your designer – This is the most important decision you will make so take the time to get it right. Do your research on Architects/Building Designers who specialize in sustainable/energy efficient building design. Short list and interview 2 or 3 and select a designer who is in line with your values and philosophies on the subject of sustainability. Orientation – Where possible, follow the principle of ‘living areas to the north and sleeping areas to the south’ Construction Materials – The choice of materials has as much to do with the thermal qualities and their environmental lifecycle as it does aesthetics so select materials that provide you with the right balance of all three. Insulation – It goes without saying that insulation of the roof, walls and flooring is an important factor in the thermal performance and ultimate comfort of the home. Zoning – Open space living may appeal to your aesthetic sensibility but balance that out with the challenges of heating and cooling the spaces. Ventilation – Configuration of the rooms and intelligently placed windows and doors can provide the ventilation required to greatly reduce the need for mechanical cooling devices during those hot summer months. Shading – Encourage your designer to take a holistic approach to the design of your home to incorporate the outside shading opportunities to improve the thermal performance of the building. Glazing –  Would you willingly toss 30 percent of your energy dollars out the window? Surprisingly that is how much of a typical home’s heating and cooling is lost through its windows and doors. Put it on your list of queries for your designer. Heating and Cooling – This part is easier if you have addressed all the other key considerations successfully. Do the research and talk to the professionals with your acquired knowledge to find the right solution for your needs.

There is so much more we could discuss on this subject, but only so much space. Come and speak to us if you are keen to find out more.