By Bethany Picton
Monday 1 – Friday 5 October 2018 was Sustainability Week in Energy Saving Trust offices. The week was organised by Energy Saving Trust’s Sustainability Group in London and was supported by group members in Edinburgh and Cardiff, while those in Belfast and at home took part over email. The aim of the week’s activities was to encourage Energy Saving Trust staff to think about how their daily activities affect the environment, and what changes they could make to live more sustainably.
Monday – Eating Sustainably
To start the week with a thought-provoking presentation and discussion (and tasty snacks), Monday’s theme was Eating Sustainably. A variety of vegan snacks were on offer, including dairy-free cheeses, smoked tofu and chocolate. Our daily email provided food facts and online resources. The Sustainability Group gave a presentation on the environmental impact of different diets, sources and production processes, which led to an interesting discussion.
Tuesday – Save the Bee!
Inspired by a staff visit to the bees that are kept at the top of one of the buildings in Canary Wharf, Tuesday was all about bees. We supplied each office with a jar of Welsh, Scottish and English honey so that staff could do a blind taste test. We also gave away free wildflower seeds to plant, to help feed bees next summer. The Sustainability Group also shared honey recipes with the staff, and one member prepared several honey baked treats.
Wednesday – Big Sustainability Quiz of the Week
Throughout Wednesday, staff took part in the Big Sustainability Quiz of the Week over email for a chance to win a goody bag of prizes from the whole week. The quiz had sustainability-related questions on TV and film, general knowledge, renewable energy and Energy Saving Trust’s own environmental impact.
Thursday – Waste Not Want Not
Waste, particularly plastic – a hot environmental topic, was Thursday’s theme. We displayed sustainable alternatives to common household items in the offices; including straws, toothbrushes, body wash, shampoo and make up removers. These items were given away as prizes to the competitions hosted through the week. Also on display and available online were maps of bulk and zero waste shops in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff, so that staff could find one close to home. You bring your own container to these shops and weigh out the amount of product you want to buy, which saves on packaging.
Friday – The Green Mile
The Green Mile on Friday was all about how we travel and our impact on the environment. An e-bike was on loan and available for staff to try at lunchtime, throughout the week. Our cyclists travelled at an average 18mph and said it was great for travelling long distances and uphill without too much exertion, and for accelerating away from traffic lights.
Other activities included a free breakfast for those who took part in the Cycle September Challenge, and an ecological footprint challenge, where we asked people to complete a footprint calculator, and awarded a prize to the person with the lowest ecological footprint.
How to host a Sustainability Week in your workplace
- assemble: if you don’t have a Sustainability Group at your organisation, simply email the office asking for volunteers to help. You may all be inspired to form a group after the week’s activities.
- brainstorm: gather ideas from everyone who wants to be involved. You can also check environmental news to see what the current topics are and base your events around those.
- organise: think of content, activities and resources needed for each day, and share out duties among your team. Keep in touch with each other by email and hold regular update meetings to ensure everything stays on track.
- communicate: let the rest of your organisation know about Sustainability Week. Send out information in advance, including key times for activities, especially if there are any taking place outside of the office.
- engage: at the start of each day, send an introductory email to all staff explaining the day’s theme, activities and useful online resources. Encourage participation by offering suitable prizes – remember to take lots of pictures.
- follow-up: gather feedback from staff to help with next year’s planning. Also consider writing a follow-up piece on your website or blog.