Earth Day has had us thinking about the way our business impacts the planet. When people share stories about business sustainability and environmental consciousness, small offices like ours are rarely in the news. Instead, we focus on groundwater and air pollution from big industrial sites. We worry about heavy infrastructure that can be damaging on a greater scale, like Line 5. Images of oil spills, strip mining, and quotes from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring come to mind. The last thing we think about is places like 2 Fish Co. How can a marketing firm in West Michigan have an impact?
While we don’t deal with harsh chemicals or barrels of oil, our day-to-day activities do have an impact on the planet. Any waste we create can have permanent effects on our environment, and our electricity use plays a part in the bigger issues of energy production in our community. Even sourcing for paper products and office supplies touches the environment in many ways, and offers us a chance to make an impact with our purchases.
While we at 2 Fish Co. are not perfect, we’re working on it. In the spirit of Earth Day and living sustainably, here are a few things we have done to become better stewards of the planet that you can do too!
Trash: is it really garbage?
Let’s face it, we throw away A LOT of stuff. Every American creates an average of about 6 pounds of what the EPA calls “municipal solid waste” (we call it “garbage”) every day. That means our office creates 5 SUVs worth of trash each year. Paper makes up over a quarter of that amount.
Fortunately, much of the waste we produce is recyclable. Unfortunately, many office locations still have one dumpster into which all trash goes. We faced this challenge at our new 2FC office location when we first moved in. However, through a little bit of friendly nudging and research on the potential cost benefits of recycling pickup, we were able to work with our landlord to place a recycling container from Chef Container alongside the landfill waste container on our property.
Today, much of our waste, from printouts to packaging and even our takeout containers, have been diverted from the landfill and are now recycled to make new products. All that’s left is a bit of food waste and used napkins and tissues.
An added bonus – other tenants in our building are now recycling as well! It goes to show that even small efforts to be sustainable can have an impact on your surrounding community.
Check your sources!
Every time they write a paper, students are reminded by their teachers and professors to check their sources so they don’t accidentally reference questionable information. When it comes to keeping green in the office, it’s just as important to check the sources for office supplies and equipment. From pens to bathroom products, everything that’s used in an office has an environmental impact, whether that impact occurs when it’s thrown away or during its production.
Often, there’s a hidden cost to the goods we use every day. Dish and hand soap are frequently made from petroleum products. Pens and markers that get tossed after they are used up are made from virgin plastics that are rarely recycled. Even toilet paper and tissues require trees to be cut down and heavily processed before we can use them.
Careful sourcing allows businesses like 2 Fish Co. to purchase more sustainable products and to support the producers of these products, helping to keep sustainable goods on the market. The pens we use are made of recycled plastic, and our dish and hand soaps are vegetable-based and shipped in bulk packaging – small changes that decrease our oil consumption as an organization over time.
Our tissues and toilet paper are made from bamboo and sugarcane. It’s another small change that almost no one notices, but it makes a difference. Bamboo is fast growing and can be harvested over and over again, requires less water, and can thrive in areas where paper-production trees simply wouldn’t. Sugarcane pulp is a waste product from sugar manufacturing that is usually disposed of. Instead of depending on slow-growing forests to provide the paper we use every day, sourcing these innovative products cuts down on our environmental impact by using more rapidly renewable resources and even recycles waste from another industry to create something useable.
Check your sources for your supplies – you might just be surprised to see what other well-designed and affordable sustainable options are out there!
Disposable is forever
Think of the average coffee bar or office break room. How many Styrofoam cups, paper plates from that birthday cake, and plastic forks are in the trash can? While those disposables are convenient because they don’t need to be washed, they are another standard workplace fixture that has hidden costs.
A single paper plate can take up to a half gallon of clean water to create. Plastic forks, spoons, and coffee stirrers factor into this as well – each pound of plastic can use up to 22 gallons of water to make and can lay around in landfills for millennia. While new, compostable silverware and dishes are being made, they can take even larger amounts of resources to produce than oil-based versions. Oftentimes, they are only compostable in commercial compost facilities and will not decompose in landfills or compost piles.
At 2 Fish Co, most days, you won’t find us using plasticware or paper plates. There is a stock of glasses, silverware, and an impressive collection of eclectic mugs on hand that are fair game for everyone to use. While it does take energy to produce these goods, there is very little waste created per each use – helping us to cut down on waste production as well as water use and energy use over time.
There is still plenty we can do at 2 Fish Company to be friendlier to the planet every day. However, even these small steps make an impact every day that we’re in the office. Through good waste management, careful sourcing of supplies and materials, and reusing what we can instead of going the disposable route, small businesses like ours can take steps to keep the planet in good shape.