This week I want to talk about waste, or at least how to waste less in an office-based business like ours. In our industry of website design we need very few physical materials or goods to provide our service and therefore have no need to create a lot of waste. However there are still several places to tighten up…
Part 2 – Waste? What Waste?
Like most offices we don’t need to use water for anything more than making drinks and using the bathroom but there are still ways to reduce the waste of water there. The Water Guide website provides some water saving tips for the home which can easily be applied to the office too. This includes simple practices that we use such as filling the kettle with just the right amount of water and having a jug full of cold water rather than running the tap every time you want to fill your glass. We use a ‘Save a Flush’ bag in the loo too which stops the cistern from filling right up and eventually flushing more water away. Many UK water companies will also send you a free water saving loo bag if you ask them to.
Don’t waste, re use
So the point of reducing waste is to cut down the number of new things you buy and to keep as much ‘stuff’ as you can out of the landfill.
Paper is the easiest one. In fact, if it wasn’t for junk mail coming through our door we probably wouldn’t need to put any paper in the recycle bin. We’ve joined the Mail Preference Service to cut down the amount of junk mail we receive but some does still slip through. However it always goes out with recycling – never in the landfill.
On the whole we don’t need to print very often as most of our communication is electronic. We work on the principle that if a piece of paper has a blank side it can be used a few times before it has to retire. A couple of things we do is print double-sided and make notebooks for scribbling ideas and messages. This paper is later shredded and put in the compost bin along with the tea bags and coffee grinds (organic and fairtrade of course).
Freecycle is a great place to donate as well as receive office furniture which otherwise may have ended up at the dump. So what if the chairs and desks don’t match? It will give your office character!
At the moment I’m keeping a look out on the Nottingham Realcycle for a table for our office. When we get one we’ll have saved from having to buy a new one and stopped an old one from going into the landfill.
Of course, for a web design company like ours, our computers are the most important equipment in the office. They have to work efficiently and reliably and we can’t run the risk of using slow, old machines. Having said that there’s no need to buy a whole brand new computer each time one part isn’t up to scratch. Updating individual components means that the other parts of the computer can go on doing their job for a little longer. If you’re a techy type of person then you could probably re-build another computer from your second hand parts which would be great for home use. We’ve done this in the past. In future we’ll donate to a local community group or charity.
Whether you’re recycling a whole computer or its component parts take care to make sure you’ve deleted all confidential and sensitive information from the hard disk first. If the computer just doesn’t work then you need to dispose of it safely and within the WEE directive regulations. The Envirowise website has some useful WEEE links where you can find out what it all means and how it may affect your business.
Next installment: Part 3 – ‘Be a Smart Consumer…’
Vicky – Make Hay, ethical web design