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How to be a More Sustainable Consumer & Worker

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Green Works is Cpl’s sustainability team who have been working together to inspire our staff, clients and community to make greener choices every day.

It is easy to become overwhelmed when we hear stats on climate change; “The icebergs on the largest ice shelf are melting 10 times faster than in other areas.” “Sea levels will rise 2 metres by 2050 if we don’t make changes.” “Each person produces over 1.5 tonnes of waste per year.”

Sometimes statistics like these can make us wonder if there is there any point in trying, but small consistent changes can make a difference.

Cpl employs over 10,000 people on-site and off-site across Ireland, the UK and Europe so I’m confident we can make a change for the better. As co-chair of Cpl Green Works, I’m excited to educate and motivate our people to become more conscious consumers, inside and outside of the office.

Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish schoolgirl and climate activist who addressed the UN Conference on climate change, has had her speech viewed almost 5 million times.  Her message has galvanised thousands of people across Europe with her words.

“I want you to panic. I want you to act like the house is on fire.”

Climate Change is the greatest threat to our planet and needs urgent action. There are simple steps we can take every day, to become more conscious of our impact on the environment.

If we all make small changes to our habits, cumulatively we can have a huge impact. Here are some tips on how to be a more conscious consumer, start with one and see how many you can implement into your day:

How to be a more sustainable consumer and worker

Reduce the electricity you use.

At the end of each day power down, unplug your appliances and switch off lights. Even if you’re not using them a plugged-in appliance, such as your phone charger, uses energy. By reducing how much energy we use we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Beware of ‘Green Washing’.

Companies have started using pseudo marketing claims to make their products appear more green, but always read the fine print.  For example – many coffee cups have printed on them “100% Recyclable”.  However there are no current facilities to recycle coffee cups in Ireland, so they will end up in a landfill. Cups that are compostable, are compostable only if you put them in a brown bin.

Think before you print.

If you need to print, opt for double-sided and black & white.  Become paperless where possible, so that fewer trees are cut down from local and international forests.

Avoid fast fashion.

It takes 2,700L of water to make one cotton t-shirt. So even though a t-shirt may cost €10, what was the environmental impact to manufacture it and fly it here from Asia?  Think about the true cost of fast fashion.

When you are shopping, shop local & buy natural materials.

Synthetic materials contain microplastics, which enter our water cycle, which fish eat, which humans then consume.

Plastic has been found in every single part of our oceans, including 10km down at the world’s deepest underwater trench in the Pacific. Organic cotton, linen or hemp are all great natural materials.

When food shopping buy local and in season. Choose items without packaging and only buy what you need.

Consume less red meat.

Cows are one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions in the world – producing just one hamburger can use enough fossil fuel to drive a small car 20 miles. Give Meat Free Monday a go. I had some resistance when I first introduced this at home. My husband asked, “where’s the real dinner?”

But after a while and having explained the benefits, my family are on board. The kids are now experts in cooking stuffed mushrooms and my husband says he feels healthier eating more veg and less meat. If you are eating meat and dairy products try and shop local.

Avoid single-use items

If you can do one thing cut out plastic cutlery, straws, stirrers and plastic water bottles. We use these items for 5 mins and they hang around in a landfill for up to 500 years.  Instead, buy yourself a reusable bottle and keep it at your desk – you’ll have saved money within a week.

Use your voice and put green on the agenda.

You are the customer – let businesses know that you care about their environmental impact.  Speak up and don’t be afraid to ask about their sustainability/recycling policies.

There are many reasons I chose to get involved with Cpl Green Works.

I want a stable, safe planet for my two children and to preserve the beauty of our planet and nature around us. Even more fundamentally, I believe it’s good manners to respect a place that you are passing through.

To learn more about Sustainability at Cpl download our Responsible Business Document or if you’re interested in working at Cpl you can view opportunities here.

This article was originally published in 2019.