Operation Eco’s Starting Initiatives
If you’ve read our blog, “Operation Eco”, or our earlier blog, “Renovating Our Environment (Without Deteriorating Our Environment)”, you know about our initiative to be environmentally neutral – not just carbon neutral – by 2030. In our first steps as a fully focused team, we’ve brainstormed and begun making small changes for big impact. Read on to see what these main efforts are, and how we’ve started to progress toward our goal.
Getting & Promoting Eco-Friendly Supplies (& Staying Away from Single-Use Plastics)
One of the lowest hanging eco-friendly fruits – in our opinion, has been eliminating single-use plastics. So far, we’ve promoted the use of anything that replaces the plastics we use and throw out day to day – from permanent water bottles and mugs, to long-lasting glass storage containers with lids. To help with this transition, we’ve provided access to both branded water bottles and travel mugs, and hope to continue to provide branded, sustainable alternatives so that staff (and clients) can support both Strata and our planet. The Strata team has also moved from any single use plasticware to eco-friendly utensils, plates, bowls, and towels to create a more environmentally conservative lunchtime. We know the best thing for us to use would be permanent plates, bowls, and utensils, so we plan to purchase environmentally friendly dishwashers for both locations this year to eliminate any need for buying more kitchen supplies.
As another eco-incentive, we’ve purchased Strata tote bags for use at the grocery store available for Strata employees. We’ve also recently started looking into multi-serve, environmentally conscious coffee machines that meet the coffee needs of our hardworking staff while being safer for the earth around us. And lastly, we’re transitioning to all eco-friendly personal cleaning products within the next few months.
Transforming our Trash & Recycling Habits
Another set of somewhat easier changes – or at least easier to put into place – are those surrounding our trash habits. We realized that the bags in our recycling bins are unnecessary, so we decided to eliminate them completely. We’ve also gotten rid of individual trash cans within offices, which not only limits our amount of wasted trash bags, but also motivates employees to stretch and move around throughout the day (which is always a wellness plus).
Unplugging, Conserving, & Renewing Energy
To better conserve our energy and power usage, we’ve made quite a few changes in our office spaces. For starters, we’re making an effort to always turn off the lights whenever office areas are not in use. We’re also unplugging at the end of the day (when possible). But that’s not all, we also plan to purchase smart plugs and install LED lightbulbs where they aren’t already in use. Additionally, we’re making an effort to donate and recycle unused or old electronics each year by taking a thorough inventory of what we currently have.
Lastly, to bring nature in and improve air quality, we’ve added more desk and office plants. Don’t worry – they’re not being neglected. Our “care schedule” ensures that everyone has a chance to care for their new green desk-mates.
Reaching Out & Making Connections
Although we always try to do this, this year we’re putting a focus on connecting with others to gain the highest and most diverse, quality knowledge we can about other eco-initiatives and processes. We’ve reached out to other organizations and our peers, asking them what they’re doing to make a change, and more importantly – if it’s working. We’ve also been sure to call ahead and make arrangements with catering companies before events to ask for less use of packaging and paper products upon delivery.
This is just the beginning – as we have many ideas to improve our eco footprint going forward. Interested in following along with Operation Eco’s journey? Keep an eye out for future StrataBytes blogs on our website, and connect with us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to follow our eco initiative.
Where We Are & Where We’re Going
Operation Eco. The name we’ve chosen to represent our environmental initiatives – big or small. The term “operation” has many meanings. One: performance of a practical work or of something involving the practical application of principles or processes. Two: the fact or condition of functioning or being active. And three: an act of surgery performed on a patient. Not only does our team plan to perform practical work that holds true to our principles and values, but we plan to be active in our environmental choices, not just passively checking off a box. And, although we’re not doctors here at Strata, we plan to operate with knowledge, meticulous research, and care for wellness (for both our earth, and our employees).
Our Mission, Vision, & Values
As a team, Operation Eco is dedicated to guiding Strata on an impactful, research-driven journey to evolve our workplace (and even perhaps, ourselves). The workplace is its own ecosystem, affected by our operations, vendors, consumers and our team. Reducing our total eco-footprint and achieving long-term sustainability will be a journey of both small and large challenges. We’re striving to make the largest positive environmental impact as well as encourage positive change in our individual habits. According to the EPA, the largest contributor to carbon emissions is transportation, which is just one example of how we all can make an impact by our individual decisions.
We may just be one small company, but we believe our impact can be greater than our size. To make this impact, we’ll continuously research, test, implement and adjust our eco-focused strategies in order to figure out what tactics have the biggest influence on our efforts and our environment. We plan to stay true to our mission yet be flexible with our timelines, because we understand that a more environmentally conscious, sustainable, flexible, and modern workplace culture is an ongoing, team-based journey, not a singular destination.
Among other things, we value research, accountability, flexibility, communication, partnership and teamwork, innovation, long-term sustainability and efficiency, and modernization. Our value statements are as follows:
- We understand that eco-first decisions should not be made in a vacuum and should be driven, and backed by research.
- We acknowledge that as members of the Operation Eco team, we must be thoughtful about and accountable for our actions, lead by example, and communicate our knowledge and values of sustainability to the company.
- We know that Strata’s eco-first initiative is a journey, and therefor acknowledge that we must be flexible with our decisions, processes, timelines and overall goal for the future.
- We are open to partnering with sustainability experts, knowing that this in uncharted territory for our company, and understanding that industry leaders can help us further our journey and reach our end goal of becoming environmentally neutral (not just carbon neutral) by 2030.
- We are willing to continuously educate ourselves and others in the company on the principles and possibilities of sustainability and are willing to pursue innovative solutions along the way.
- We will continuously keep the wellness and morale of our employees in mind as we go through this journey.
The Operation Eco team’s goal is to work together to guide Strata, and our broader “eco system” on a journey to sustainability that’s driven by research, collaboration, and innovation. We will be thoughtful about all of our actions, open to opinions, and actively communicate our progress. Again – to put it simply, we’re determined to help Strata become environmentally neutral (not just carbon neutral) by 2030.
You’ll notice that we’ve chosen a logo to represent Operation Eco that is quite simple, yet contains an arrow moving towards the right (forward). We’ve included this arrow to symbolize growth over time, as we know our plans and vision may change, but our overall goal will stay the same.
Strata has always kept an eye on the environment and our impact – with roots in the printing industry, we’ve always known that we have to pay closer attention to it than most. Over the years, we’ve done our best to handle waste chemicals with care and efficiency. We’ve paid attention to what was available to us to keep waste low, and have recycled or given our waste to a reclamation company.
Safety-Kleen, a leader in waste disposal services, is the company we’ve used most often for waste reclamation. They specialize in “proper handling, recycling, and disposal of both hazardous and non-hazardous waste” and “ensure that your waste solution balances your objectives, operational demands and budget, while eliminating your environmental burden.”
We’ve also worked with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) who ensures certification of paper offerings that are from renewable sources. What does this mean? That this paper was made with the least environmental impact, and the organization responsible for it “shall maintain, conserve and/or restore ecosystem services and environmental values of the Management Unit, and shall avoid, repair or mitigate negative environmental impacts.” We’ve also worked with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), who provide “solutions to local and global sustainability challenges.”
Strata also uses (and has used for many years) vegetable dye inks. Additionally, the largest chemical waste from our digital printers, imaging oil, is now reusable dramatically reducing this waste stream.
Although we’ve strived to be environmentally conscious in the past, we believe that our Operation Eco team will help us to hone in on what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and what we can do to make our company as environmentally neutral as possible.
As we stated in our mission above, Strata hopes to conduct ample research and seek out experiences that help us to figure out what tactics have the biggest impact on our efforts and our environment. Our first and current focuses are renovations and remodeling and eco-friendly and efficient chemistry. Check back for next steps.
Interested in following along with Operation Eco’s journey? Keep an eye out for future StrataBytes blogs on our website, and connect with us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn) to follow our eco initiative.