Our sustainability journey.

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We’ve written previously about how we’re trying to make a difference to the world we live in through our service.

In that post, we also mentioned what we were trying to do internally to try and make a difference and minimise our impact on the environment. After all, it’s no good doing one thing right if you do another wrong.

So, we thought we’d set out what plan to do and what we’re already doing in two key areas: waste disposal and energy consumption.

We’ll be periodically revisiting our plans and marking out bigger projects as time goes by so keep your eyes peeled.

Waste disposal

As a business, it’s hard to produce zero waste. One thing we can do, however, is to be more responsible with our approach to wastage.

Person recycling bottles

Recycling and refuse collection:

Waste bins all over the building only encourages thoughtless disposal, and this means that recyclables end up heading to the landfill, or things such as batteries end up in the wrong place.

To this end, it’s obvious that a one-size-fits-all bin is not the solution.

What we’re doing is getting rid of the general waste bins around the building and replacing them with a series of bins, each with its own specific purpose.

Mixed recyclables:

Here’s where we hope to have the biggest impact. We’ve included large mixed recyclable bins around the office where the general waste bins once were.

We’ve also included some useful posters and info to help people make good decisions about what they’re recycling and why. For example – did you know that most crisp packets cannot currently be recycled?

The aim is to make it as clear and easy as possible to recycle so that it ends up as second nature.

Glass:

Glass recycling

We actually don’t seem to produce that much glass waste, so we’ve got fewer glass recycling points throughout the building – we mainly wanted to have one in the kitchen area.

We’re based in Leeds, and the local council currently doesn’t take glass waste in with their mixed recyclables, so we’re periodically shuttling the glass down to a recycling point. This small effort is totally worth the knowledge that the glass can be reused once more.

Food waste:

Food waste container

It’s easy to think that food waste belongs in the general waste, right? I mean, after all, it’ll just rot down, right?

Yes, it will rot down, but it’s the conditions in which it decomposes that are the main issue. Food waste in landfills decomposes without access to oxygen, and this means it breaks down anaerobically – producing methane instead of the less harmful carbon dioxide that composting produces.

Responsible composting sees the food waste churned and agitated frequently, meaning it can break down aerobically.

We’re working on a new waste management contract to help us further separate our waste to include food scraps etc.

We’ll be supplying scrap containers in our kitchen and breakout areas, and these will be collected, emptied into larger bins outside and cleaned periodically. The bins outside will then be collected weekly, where the waste will be composted responsibly. It can then find new use as a fertiliser for lovely new plants and flowers!

Batteries:

We have two battery recycling points (we get plenty of batteries in the items we buy) – this allows us to safely dispose of batteries, ensuring that the nasty chemicals inside cannot leak out.

Energy consumption

Often a seemingly small change can make a big difference.

Lighting:

Changing LED bulbs

We’re based in an old sewing machine factory, and the lighting system is quite basic – currently fluorescent tubs and simple on/off switches.

We’ve plans to upgrade the lighting to more efficient units with timers and motion sensors but, for now, we need to be as personally responsible as we can.

That means only using lights when needed or using more localised lighting depending on the task in hand.

Switching to LED bulbs can reduce energy consumption by around 2/3rds. Whilst the initial price of LED bulbs can be a bit of a shock, you have to remember that you’re using a third of the energy you once were. Not only that, but they last a lot longer than fluorescent bulbs and run a lot cooler.

Our goal is to have replaced 50% of our building’s lighting with LEDs by the end of 2019.

Appliances:

Similar to lighting, we’re making efforts to keep all non-essential appliances turned off where possible.

Here’s a great example of a small but useful change of attitude. We use wall-mounted monitors throughout our building to keep our team up to speed with various metrics. Keeping them turned on all day is sadly unavoidable – although if someone were to create a large e-ink screen we’d be dead interested.

However, turning them off at night is a new focus of ours. We recently learned that most new appliances are limited by the EU to 1 watt energy consumption an hour on standby. This is actually quite a small amount, sure. But that thinking is part of the problem. Think of the number of TVs in the UK. Millions, surely? All that consumption adds up. And for what? The convenience of being able to turn the TV on faster?

We’re turning off all non-essential appliances at the mains when they’re not in use.

Future focus

This is just the start of what we want to achieve. We believe we’re making a great impact on how people consume and get rid of products already, and our plans to expand into Europe only serve to reinforce that.

It’s of great importance to us that we apply the same passion to our internal practices, and strive to practice what we preach. We’ve just begun our journey to becoming more environmentally responsible. There’s still a lot of work for us to do.

Do you have any tips or suggestions on how we can improve? Would you like to work with us and help us do better? Get in touch in the comments below, drop us an email at hello@vintagecashcow.co.uk or let us know over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vintagecashcow/

 

 

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