Taking small steps towards big change
By Sean Guegan, managing director, Signtech
THERE are certain triggers that seem to propel human awareness into immediate action. The recent BBC series Blue Planet II is one such trigger, igniting worldwide campaigns for change in a global attempt to reduce the use of plastics that inevitably end up polluting our environment – particularly the sea. Although awareness of such issues has been sitting in our daily consciousness for some time now, the harrowing TV programmes narrated by David Attenborough have flicked the switch of change and people are reacting.
Jersey has a fantastic community of people running organisations and events to help raise awareness and bring about change at a local level (co-ordinated beach cleans and Jersey In Transition events to name just a couple), with most efforts being carried out outside of working hours.
However, what can we as business owners do to contribute? Surely we should be leading by example and showing local politicians and governing bodies that we want a more sustainable future for our Island and putting them under pressure by leading the way? Creating a movement for change in-house rather than waiting for politicians to step in?
Understandably some businesses have more funds and resources available to make things happen, however, every little step contributes towards great change. At Signtech we’ve initiated some changes that we feel are moving us in the right direction and we encourage other local businesses to do the same.
One big decision we made was to invest in state-of-the-art machinery that is more environmentally friendly than traditional printing and production equipment. Operation is ozone-free and there is no toxic waste, with low power consumption. The range of tasks our printers master on their own would otherwise require a fleet of machinery, as they print directly onto almost any surface, thereby reducing the use of vinyls and processes – all resulting in less wastage.
Smaller, more affordable changes, however, can have just as big an impact. Eighty per cent of our staff either cycle or walk to work, so we’ve installed a shower and bike racks to encourage that lifestyle choice. We’ve also given all the staff glass water bottles with protective silicone sleeves and invested in a decent coffee machine to reduce the use of plastic bottles and take-out coffee cups. Our sales staff carry messenger bags made entirely of up-cycled seat belts by local artisan Kirsten of Atlantic Blue Clothing.
In an attempt to reduce waste, all our pallet boards, metals, cardboard, plastics and glass items are recycled and off-cuts go to local artisans for creative up-cycling projects, or to local nurseries and schools for imaginative play and DT projects. We turn all our scrap paper into notepads and are forever looking to smarten our IT systems to reduce the paper trail.
We’ve recently changed our general cleaning products to ones that do not harm the environment and have applied solar films to the windows to reduce heat loss. We have office plants and moss walls to help cleanse the air, a rooftop garden with bee hives would be lovely, but we’re not quite there yet!
Living on an Island that measures nine miles by five, we should all be looking for ways to instigate change and help protect and improve our environment. So let us be inspired by cities like Amsterdam, where bicycles outnumber cars and taxis are electric and let us take some simple steps towards big change.
To quote an often over-used expression: ‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.’ So why not take a look around your office or work space and see what small changes you can make today?