Surprising Benefits Of Sustainability

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love compost.

As an agency, we use imagination, design and technology to build some of Australia’s most respected brands. More recently, we’ve focused those same attributes internally to approach sustainability, looking at the way we work and make a series of changes for the better.

Why? Well, it all began earlier this year, following an inspiring and deeply researched presentation by our Digital Strategist Ryan Broderick (seriously, dude’s a master). Focusing on what we were doing well, not so well, and presenting data gathered about employee perceptions of sustainability, he then opened the question to everyone in the organisation:

“How can we best perform as a business in a manner that is responsible and sustainable?”

Environmental policies might usually be associated with big manufacturers, resource companies, and large-scale projects which could threaten a certain black-throated finch. But in reality, we’re all responsible for our tiny corner of the universe, our own street, and no one’s gonna fix it if we don’t.

What we changed (and the surprising benefits)

1. Paper

Computer companies promised us the paper-free office but it hasn’t happened. In an office of 30+ people, it made no sense to have a wastepaper bin under every desk. The need to print (beyond a few brand projects) was actually fairly limited. We decided to remove those bins and repurpose them as recycling canisters in a dedicated area. Those bins also set up our recycling separation centre to instill good habits – covered below.

Surprise benefit: no printer-jamming rage

 

2. Coffee

We’re fortunate to be close to diamonds in Perth’s cafe crown (Mary Street Bakery, Myrtle Ivy, Pearth, Hylin) and many more fine eateries in West Leedy. And sure, while biodegradable/compostable cups offered by many cafes are a better option than the old plastic style, we agreed on going a step further: No more takeaway cups in the office. Period.

The new habit? Grab a mug from the kitchen cupboard, bring your Keepcup, drink your coffee with your laptop in the cafe like some scarf-wrapped aspiring novelist. Whatever works.

A poll and some #quickmaths by the digital team worked out that we would save 5720 cups from landfill every year. It’s a small start, but a daily reminder of what objects we’re letting into our lives. Marie Kondo would be proud.

Surprise benefit: an improved appreciation for the aroma of coffee

 

3. Waste

Though we’re aiming to have a zero-waste office, for now, lunch containers and food waste are still a part of the waste stream. We’ve introduced a composting system for food waste, which will eventually feed a small garden, plus set up a sort and separate recycling system.

Yes, every one of us has stood there and questioned whether that can be recycled, what it’s made of. We were fortunate to have a visit from Peg Davies, Waste Educator for the Mindarie Regional Council to talk us through what goes where and why; how different councils process recycling; where it goes afterwards (a whole journey through SouthEast Asia and China); why washing cans is important; and how our kegs of beer are supremely energy efficient (win!).

Surprise benefit: no more stinky tuna cans in the bin attracting stray cats.

 

In conclusion

Now, the office stereo isn’t constantly blasting out John Butler Trio, and there hasn’t been a single drumming circle, because thinking sustainability is far from fringe anymore. We’re continuing to make small steps with the hope of inspiring others to continue doing the same. Because if we’re all making small changes together the results will be surprising.