The climate is changing, and so is public opinion. As the effects of climate change become more prevalent through severe weather events, stakeholders and employees are calling on companies to put their money where their mouth is in terms of sustainability.
As we help companies navigate those business changes, we are excited to highlight our own sustainability program, REED Goes GREEN.
To ensure our efforts are truly beneficial to the planet and have a positive impact on all people, we have partnered with Urban Green Lab(UGL), a Nashville non-profit dedicated to educating the Nashville community about sustainable practices. Through our partnership with UGL, their Assistant Director of Workplaces, Jackie Goodwin, is assisting us in educating our team on sustainability and improving our efforts to keep the planet front of mind in our office and in our work.
Spearheaded by our own Katie Miller, our REED Goes GREEN program has led to sustainable changes in how we operate daily, such as a plastic-free water system, office carpooling efforts and recycling and composting systems.
Our office has a plastic-free water system for our employees and guests. We have reusable glass water bottles available in our office refrigerators for any guests that would like water while in the office. These bottles are dishwasher safe, making it simple for us to clean and refill them. We also have canned water for those guests who want to take water to go. We love Liquid Death at the REED office, but there are many canned water brands to choose from. We also have aluminum reusable water bottles for our team to grab when heading to an event.
According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), single-use plastics make up nearly half of the 300 million tons of plastic produced annually. These single-use plastics remain in the environment for hundreds of years, releasing microplastics into the atmosphere. Eliminating single-use plastic water bottles in your office is a simple first step to a more sustainable workplace.
Our most recent addition to our REED goes GREEN program is our team incentives for sustainable efforts. Our hope is for sustainability to be top of mind in everything we do as a team, but we understand that retraining your brain to think sustainably can take a little time and effort. We have built a system that encourages our team to consider sustainable measures when doing daily activities. For example, we promote carpooling to and from team events by offering to cover the cost of a coffee for each team member and reward implementing sustainable efforts in client events with a gift card to a local, sustainable business (The Good Fill is one of our favorites). Eventually, these sustainable choices will become habits with our team, but new habits aren’t developed instantly.
Our big team goal for this year is to reach 210 pounds of compost, which will be rewarded with a team happy hour. In 2022, we reached 75 pounds of compost in the four months we had a compost system set up.
Through Compost Nashville, we have two green bins that we fill up each week. To streamline the process in our office, we put a small compost container on our counter that we can fill each workday and empty into our bins at night. That helps keep the smell often associated with composting to a minimum and simplifies the process for our team.
Nashville aims to be zero waste by 2080 and is the pilot city of the NRDC’s food waste initiative. A common misconception about composting is that items that are compostable will decompose the same way in the landfill as if they were composted. Unfortunately, food waste left to rot in a landfill produces methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas. When food waste is composted instead, it returns nutrients to the soil, producing usable, natural plant fertilizer.
Recycling is another part of our office’s green initiatives. Recycling is often a confusing topic for many, as there is no hard and fast rule for recycling, and there are misconceptions about what can be placed in recycling bins in Nashville and how effective recycling is for certain materials. Katie, our office’s sustainability guru, put together a recycling 101 crash course for our team and set up graphics near our recycling bin to ensure we only put acceptable items in the recycling bin.
In Recycling 101, we learned the different ways to recycle, whether through the curbside bins provided by the city, the recycling drop-off centers located throughout the city and convenience centers to take excess materials. Through the Nashville.gov recycling page, we have a tool to verify what is recyclable here in Nashville, where our nearest drop-off locations are and when our location is serviced for curbside pickup.
Something that is frequently overlooked as falling under the umbrella of sustainability is natural disasters. We know that climate change is a growing problem on our planet, leading to larger and more frequent natural disasters. Climate change is a direct result of not caring for the planet. Therefore, to truly be sustainable, we must focus on what’s happening worldwide.
Last month, a devastating earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, affecting nearly 24 million people. There were more than 50 thousand deaths and $85 billion in destruction. The stories of the people of Turkey and Syria were heartbreaking and struck a chord with our team.
As part of our newly relaunched Be The Good program, under our sustainability focus, we pledged to donate $1,000 to the Syrian American Medical Society and offered a donation matching program up to an additional $500.
We are working every day to continue to build a sustainable office. Our green efforts are constantly growing and evolving, and we are thrilled to have a partner in Urban Green Lab advising us along the way. As Anne Marie Bonneau said, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
If you or anyone you know is going to Syria or Turkey to help in the disaster relief efforts, consider applying for service trip funding through our Be The Good service trip aid here.