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Sustainable Businesses

Sustainable Businesses

Keep Your Office Green – For Yourself and For Mother Earth!

Keeping employees happy in their workplace is key to lower staff turnover and higher productivity levels. For example, if you’re in human resources, you probably love finding new ways to ensure your employees are happy and fulfilled. Getting your whole office involved in new green initiatives is an excellent way to get people working as a team and having fun. Going green is more than a fun new trend, however. The ‘green’ in the phrase stands for the earth: thus, going green is a daily realisation of how your lifestyle affects the natural world and what you can do to be more earth-friendly.

Why go green?

Irresponsible use of substances such as plastics – as well as unchecked fumes, chemicals, and waste material from man-made factories – contaminate the natural environment. These contaminants can be spread by water, air, and produce, ending up in our farmed plants, fresh water, and even fish and other animals we eat. Being ‘green,’ or ‘eco-friendly,’ is very important for protecting what plant, animal, and human life we have on the planet, as well as preserving our natural resources and healthy environments for future generations.

There are many ways to improve your overall staff satisfaction. One is to do something good for the earth while improving the happiness levels of your employees.  Many modern employees consider environmentalism important, and bringing a ‘green mindset’ into the work environment may just help keep your employees motivated and invested in their jobs.

Studies show that employees who work at eco-friendly companies have higher opinions of their employers, as well as greater productivity.  If you’re ready for your office to become greener, here are some simple, cost-effective ways you can incorporate environmental values into the workplace!

 

1) Implement plastic-free days

If your employees often bring their lunch in single-use plastic containers or regularly eat out at fast food restaurants, you might like to implement plastic-free days at the office. To avoid discontent, why not arrange a potluck lunch and provide reusable plates and cutlery, or even provide small prizes or vouchers to everyone who manages to avoid plastic for the day.

To minimise plastic, try buying stock in bulk or request environmentally-friendly packaging materials when you place orders. You can also encourage your employees to bring their own reusable cutlery and food storage/takeaway containers to work, as well as reusable mugs to work if they have the habit of going out for coffee – with most single-use cups ending up in the landfill, you can have a great impact if you use reusable cups.

 

2)  Green Volunteering

Volunteering together is a great way to promote teamwork, and will, with any luck, leave your employees feeling satisfied and fulfilled. You could organise days out for employees to spend time working together for a local environmental charity, or encourage your team to fundraise for a charity through something like a bake sale or fun run. Also, you could organise a clean-up for your local beach or park, where your employees work together to pick up all the trash that has been left in a local area.  This is a great way for your team to have fun together helping to clean the environment, as well as raising awareness of how important it is to look after our natural resources – if we don’t, nobody else will!

 

3) Bring natural light into your office

Instead of relying on unpleasant, unnatural lighting, why not try to bring in natural light to your office? Studies have shown that people work much better and accomplish more in natural lighting, in part because they don’t suffer from the ill-effects of harsh lighting. If you aren’t able to have large windows fitted, you may want to reposition your desks.

By making full use of your windows, you will reduce your consumption of electricity and help your employees feel much better – thereby allowing them to get more work done.

4) Encourage employees to work from home (if applicable to your business)

If the jobs in your business allow for workers to work remotely (for instance, call centres or IT consultation), why not try something different and offer your employees the freedom to work from home? Working from home can help ensure your team isn’t adding to their carbon footprint through their commute and can even make them more productive. If implementing a working-from-home program would suit your business, you could start by offering your employees the chance to work away from the office a couple of times a week, and watch the job satisfaction and productivity soar!

 

5) Decorate your office with plants

As we spend more time than ever indoors, and although the negative impacts of this lifestyle change are still being researched, there is no doubt that being in and around nature is good for us. Just having plants in the office can help greatly in reducing stress.

Take advantage of how looking at nature can help us feel more relaxed, and decorate your office with a few well-placed plants. Studies have proven that having greenery around the office is great for improving staff attention spans and even your mood! To start with, you might like to gift each employee with a small plant for their desk, so they have a little piece of nature with them throughout the day.

If your goal is to help your employees to be happy and productive, going green is one of the easiest ways to fulfil it. Going green will help you and your employees, and will also minimise your company’s impact on the earth.

 

Here at The Sustainability Project, you can find a wide array of items that can help kickstart your journey of becoming as eco-friendly as you can be.  Check out our amazing range of beeswax wrap, stainless steel straws, sustainable produce bags, and much more here!

Sustainable Businesses

Foreword Coffee – Coffee With A Conscience

But first, coffee – this is the motto for all the coffee lovers around the world and we definitely do love our coffee fix! In Singapore, you can find your daily supply of coffee from a range of places – our local coffee shop, cafes, Starbucks and many others. But how easy is it to find a coffee roaster that serves coffee with a conscience? Well, look no further, as this is where Foreword Coffee comes in!

Founded in August 2017 at 8 College Ave East, Foreword Coffee is a coffee roaster that envisions a world unprejudiced to the differences between people. It concentrates on finding a sustainable solution to empower persons with special needs and also to be an advocate for the community. Hence, allowing the social stigma which the society holds towards the persons with disabilities (PWD) community to be broken. In addition, Foreword Coffee aspire to be a “good” and “sustainable” company from cherry to the cup.

So, if you have yet been to their shop, here are a few reasons why you should check them out!

Environment Advocates

How rare is it to find a coffee roaster that is plastic free?

The steps taken by Foreword Coffee to be plastic free is:

  1. Serving their cold drinks in paper cups
  2. Having a no straws policy (PS they sell reusable straws too!)

Besides that, Foreword Coffee educates and encourages their customers to adopt a more sustainable coffee drinking culture by bringing their own cups. Foreword Coffee is part of the BYO Singapore initiative which encourages their customers to bring their own cups for their takeaways by offering a 10% discount.

Did we forget to mention that their used coffee grounds are turned into compost?

Hence, Foreword Coffee regards the environment of great importance and aims to strive for a more sustainable coffee consumption culture here in Singapore.

 

Empowering Those With Disabilities

When you order your coffee from Foreword Coffee, you might notice something special about their employees. Foreword Coffee currently employs a barista who is deaf and is also training an autistic youth to be a barista. What is the reasoning behind this decision? Well, Foreword Coffee believes strongly in empowering people with disabilities. This is evident through the design in their workplace in which they create a workflow to suit their abilities and encourage interaction between the general public and the disability community.

Moving forward, Foreword Coffee is looking to expand their social impact by training and hiring more persons with disabilities and eventually convincing more cafes to hire them as well.

 

Green Coffee!

You might be thinking, green coffee = sustainable coffee? We made that silly mistake too! Instead, green coffee refers to raw coffee. Foreword Coffee imports green coffee directly from producers or cooperatives that work with the farmers directly as compared to other businesses which might buy from coffee importers (the middleman between producers and coffee roasters). Through the direct purchase of raw coffee beans, more money is transferred to the farmers which ultimately helps to improve the lives of the farmers in Asia.

The focus on Asian speciality coffee that Foreword Coffee offers is something different from other cafes in Singapore, which usually bring in American and African coffees. Foreword Coffee believes in the potential of our Asian counterpart and currently serve Yunnan (China) and Xam Nuea (Laos) coffee.

 

With that, check out Foreword Coffee’s Instagram and Facebook page and do drop them a visit in NUS!

Sustainable Businesses

Ecosia: The Search Engine That Plants Trees

Imagine being able to help to restore a forest, just by searching something on the Internet. How is that even possible?

Well, look no further! The answer is Ecosia – a search engine that plants trees with its advertisement revenue. Every month, Ecosia donates at least 80% of their profits to tree planting programmes. With a mission to plant 1 billion trees by 2020, we delve further into how this search engine works and what you can do to help them achieve their mission.

 

How does it work?

All it takes to get started is by searching anything you want on their search engine. All of Ecosia’s search results are powered by Bing which is US second largest search engine owned by Microsoft.

The first few results that you obtain which are indicated “Ad” are the advertisements which help Ecosia generate revenue. By clicking on those results indicated with “Ad”, you can help to increase Ecosia’s revenue!

How many trees have I planted?

On the top right-hand corner, you will notice a tree counter. The tree counter indicates the number of searches that you have performed with Ecosia. Since not every user will click on an advertisement, Ecosia earns an average of 0.5 EUR cents per search. Hence, it takes an average of 45 web searches to fund the planting of a tree as it costs about 0.22 EUR cents to plant one tree!

Where are the trees being planted?

Ecosia looks to support projects in the 25 most threatened forest ecosystems, otherwise defined as biodiversity hotspots. To classify as one, a region must meet the following conditions:

  1. At least 1,500 species of vascular plants (>0.5% of the world’s total) are endemic
  2. At least 70% of the original natural vegetation has been lost

Hence, through this approach, Ecosia has identified 35 biodiversity hotspots as locations where it wants to plant trees. A few examples of these regions are Indonesia, Tanzania, Madagascar and Peru. Read more about the specific tree projects here!

How transparent are they?

Every month, Ecosia will issue a financial report detailing their total income for the month and the amount used to invest into their tree planting efforts (As shown below)

They also provide information about the payment for various tree planting projects and the number of trees that are being planted.

What is the current impact of Ecosia?

As of November 2017, Ecosia has planted over 15 million trees!

What can I do?

It is simple! Just make Ecosia your default search engine! Find out how to do so here.

Sustainable Businesses

Nespresso’s Sustainability Actions

Without a doubt, all of us know Nespresso for its spokesperson, George Clooney. But besides their unique use of capsule and aromatic coffee, there are a few things that Nespresso is doing in regards to sustainability that you probably didn’t know of:

1. Closing the loop

Did you know that aluminium is one of the natural resources that can be recycled infinitely? It also provides the best protection against oxygen, light and humidity which causes it to be the best material to be used for Nespresso’s capsules. Aluminium requires up to 95% less energy to recycle than to produce primary metals. Since it is 100% recyclable, these capsules can be given a second life and transformed into drink cans, bicycles or computers. Nespresso collects back these capsules and you can find the collection points here!

2. Recycling has never been so convenient!

So if you find it a hassle to travel down to the stores to recycle your aluminium capsules, fret not, as there is another alternative. You can fill up their recycling bag with the used capsules and hand it to the delivery man on your next order. And did we mention? The recycling bag is free!

3. Paying it forward

This year, Nespresso embarked on a partnership with The Food Bank Singapore to encourage coffee lovers to pay it forward by recycling their used Nespresso capsules. Each time you recycle your used capsules, you are providing approximately one meal to a person in need.

4. Save every resource

So what happens to your capsules after use? Well, the aluminium capsules would be recycled while the used coffee grounds are sent to a local farm (Quan Fa Organic Farm) as compost for vegetable farming. The use of coffee grounds improves drainage, aerates the soil and acts as a natural pest repellent.

 

To find out about other actions Nespresso is taking in terms of sustainability, click here!

Sustainable Businesses Sustainable Living

IKEA’s Sustainable Living Home Tour

When we say “IKEA”, the first word that comes to everyone’s mind is – Meatballs! Yes, IKEA is known for introducing Swedish food (our favourite!) and interior design to Singapore.

But do you know, IKEA is also one of the top leaders in driving sustainability efforts? By 2020, the IKEA group aims to run its entire business on renewable energy and produce as much renewable energy as it consumes! Within Singapore, IKEA has a countless number of initiatives to show their commitment towards sustainability such as being MSC certified, recycling waste to biofuel and banning the sale of plastic bags.

IKEA recently launched their Sustainable Living Home Tour, which allows the public to experience how a family living in a 55 square room apartment can take small actions towards sustainable living. Our team was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in the tour. Here are some of the products that have come to our attention as both sustainable and stylish!

1. Joxtorp 

So on the first glance, you might think this is a normal lamp shade made out of polyester or steel. But when you take a closer look, it is actually made out of paper! At least 80% of this product is made of paper and it comes in other colours such as orange.

A complementary item that can match this lamp shade is a LED light bulb which you can also find in IKEA. Since 2016, all light bulbs being sold at IKEA are LED use up to 85% less energy than conventional bulbs and can last up to 20 years!

2. Variera/Utrusta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of our favourite items would have to be the Variera/Utrusta, which is a waste sorting bins for the cabinet. As mentioned by the IKEA staff, 9 out of 10 households do not sort their waste and we believe these bins will encourage sorting and also make it easier for the household. Also, these bins are made of recycled polypropylene plastic!

3. Ärenpris 

Look at fluffy pillow! Would you have guessed that they are made out of recycled plastic? The filling in these pillows from 100% recycled PET bottles and they feel the same as other pillows (Trust us, we tried it out). What a meaningful innovation!

4. Pahl

For those of you who have children, this is probably one of the most thoughtful furniture designed by IKEA. This desk allows you to adjust its height to three different levels, with the maximum height being 72cm. So, instead of having to buy a new desk everytime your child grows taller, you now have a desk that grows with your child!

 

Besides all these products above, IKEA has a wide variety of other products which are designed with sustainability in mind. Share with us which of their products is your favourite and why!