Go green while saving money

BMPC75 Businesswoman driving eco-friendly office bicycle. Image shot 2010. Exact date unknown.
Bjorn Rune Lie / Alamy Stock Photo

How many times have you thought, “I’d love to be more eco-friendly but I’m not sure I can afford it”? This is perhaps the biggest reason why businesses don’t do more to be environmentally-friendly; they think it will eat into their profits. But is it even true? We wanted to find out so we embarked on a mission to reduce our carbon footprint.

It all started with a marketing plan to shine a light on the plastic pollution problems we’re currently face. If you’re running any content with this in mind, we’ve curated a lightbox highlighting just how prevalent plastic is. But rather than just talk the talk, we started to wonder…do we walk the walk?

We began by looking at all those necessary office items that are bought in large quantities every year. That’s the tea and coffee so that your staff don’t nod off during the dreaded 9am meeting. It’s all the pens and paper so that people remember what was discussed in said meeting. And it’s all the bin liners for all the food and drink that was consumed rather than discussing…err, business things!

Our Office Administrator, Kate Benson, had the seemingly-daunting task of tackling this project and found that we already had products in place that were refillable or came in recyclable jars. But there was a hitch.

“We were ordering them every week. By setting up a bulk subscription, this immediately had an impact on our carbon footprint by reducing the number of deliveries we have. And guess what? Buying in bulk is cheaper.”

How about the rubbish bags? From Amazon, we were paying 7.2 pence per bag for 150 bags. So how much for compostable bin liners? From Caddy Liners Direct, we now pay 5.6 pence per bag for 300 bags. It might not seem much but the surprise is that it’s actually cheaper to be more eco-friendly.

And in many cases, you don’t even have to change suppliers to make a impact as Kate explains: “I went back to our regular supplier and found that they offer their own brand of recycled products that are just as competitively priced, if not cheaper than their standard brand.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Below is a table showing what we used before and what we use now. We’ve also included links if you’re looking to make some changes too.

Current Product Current Price & Size Eco Product Alternative Eco Price & size
Kitchen rolls £1.24 x 2 rolls Eco leaf 3 ply kitchen towel £3.14 per 2 rolls
Tissues £2.00 per 110 sheets Together green tissues  £1.28 per 110 sheets
Washing up liquid £1.12 per litre Bio0degradable washing up liquid £1.87 per litre
A4 notebooks £8.61  per book Rhino recycled  £3.95
A5 notepads £2.05 per book Sugar cane notebook  £3.40
Copier paper A4 2.5 p per sheet Xerox supreme recycled  1.8p per sheet
Post its £2.21 per pack Recycled self-adhesive notes £2.72 per pack
Highlighters £1.38 each Recycled plastic highlighter 87p each
Envelopes 90gsm 12.5p each Eco window envelopes 90gsm 10.2p each

As you can see, there are some surprising findings that make you wonder “what’s all the fuss about?” We like to think most people would like to be more eco-friendly and when it’s cheaper to do so, it’s a no-brainer! We do have some other changes lined up once our subscription of certain products expire and Kate discovered some areas that still need work too.

“I’m still searching for a milk supplier that can offer plastic free packaging. As a company that uses between 65-85 pints of milk a week, small glass bottles are not a suitable option but it’s something I’d like to pursue to try to find a solution.”

Kate goes on to tell me: “One thing this project has done is made me think about my own home and if there are any small changes I can make as an individual to reduce the plastic waste from my family.”

Well that’s a double win right there. If we can inspire others to be more sustainable, save some cash and make the world a better place to live, then mother nature can live healthily knowing we’re doing our part to keep the world sustainable. If you want to make an impact (and you should), Kate has left us with her top tips to go green without breaking the bank.

Kate’s top tips to go green while saving money

  • Buy in bulk to save on costs and reduce the amount of deliveries required
  • Look to see if you have a local scheme or shop that sells unwrapped goods like pasta, rice, cereal etc and take your own jars and containers to be refilled
  • Buy large where possible. That way you may only use one or two plastic bottles per month instead of five or six (particularly on everyday items like washing up liquid and shampoo)
  • Get your milk delivered by the milkman. Glass bottles that can be recycled are not as expensive as you imagine
  • Buy bamboo. Toothbrushes, cotton buds, tissues, toilet rolls. All priced as low as the regular ones but sustainable and recyclable
  • Shop local for fruit and veg. Markets have lots of bargains, no plastic packaging and you’ll save on fuel costs
  • Ditch cling film! Cling film cannot be recycled. Use containers or wax food wrap instead
  • Always keep a supply of reusable shopping bags in your car or handbag. That way you don’t need to buy another plastic carrier bag at the tills

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