Welcome guest poster, Richard Bloomfield, the website editor for The Workplace Depot about how his company reduced its carbon footprint and saved money.
The sector of industrial and office supplies is not well known for being at the forefront of environmental awareness. At Central Source we decided to make our company a more green-aware organisation so that we could set a good example to both customers and other companies in our industry.
Our green initiative focused primarily on how we could make our head office a better working environment and reduce our carbon footprint. From a business point of view we had already begun to sell more recycled products and look for locally sourced products where possible, so ‘greening’ our head office seemed a natural aspiration.
In terms of our head office we have reduced the amount of paper used by about 40% – we bought a new printer which printed double-sided (the previous printer wouldn’t do this!) and made sure we recycled all paper and cartridges. In April/May 2012 we purchased a new energy efficient main server. We have also reduced our energy consumption through switching off the air conditionion on all but very hot days, by the very low tech device of ‘opening a window’! It actually makes a real difference that the new server and printer generate far less heat.
On the transport side, staff have been encouraged to use public transport and several staff now car-share. The pool car is a Toyota Prius – a part electric, part petrol-engine – one of the most ecologically friendly cars on the road today.
From a business point of view, Central Source has reduced the number of printed paper catalogues (approx 50% over 5 years). Instead of sending out bulky paper catalogues we promote far more of our business online through websites, email and using online video. As well as heavily investing in our website we also plan to improve our email software package so that we can better electronically communicate with our customers. So far we have made about 400 product videos, but we want to increase this to 1200 which will all be available online – hence further reducing postage and printing costs.
Two of our biggest selling products (cable protectors and speed ramps) are manufactured using recycled rubber and where possible we have asked other suppliers to use recycled materials. In terms of clients, most of our orders are now through phone, email and Internet (previously via post). We have also run several key promotions for environmentally beneficial products such as recycling bins and bike racks and accessories.
It is difficult to give a precise idea of how much our green project has ‘cost’ the business because some of the high spend equipment items (server, printers, car) were near the end of their usable life. Also we have not gone through a full year cycle but there have already been noticeable drops in electric bills through more energy efficient PC, printers and a server. Similarly with paper reduction – actually the longer term reduction in printed publications (catalogues down 50% and an almost 100% reduction in advertising fliers in favour of digital) has saved £1000s.
The cost of ‘greening’ Central Source has not been an issue and hopefully it will be a good example to other companies that many small steps can add up to making a big difference.
To find out more about our project please visit the ‘Think Green‘ section on our website. We were surprised and delighted when the Green Organisation awarded us a Green Apple Award as it is fantastic to receive acknowledgement for our efforts from such a prestigious organisation.
This sponsored article is written by Richard Bloomfield, the website editor for The Workplace Depot, a leading UK office supplies company. He was formely the website manager at the Woodland Trust.
Picture courtesy of Workplace Depot of their Company’s recycling bins.