Partner Post: Resolutions for a Greener 20235 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Around the Region shares the work of community partners. For January 2023, check out these tips from Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR). They are a social enterprise nonprofit that supports businesses and members of our community to help find the sweet spot where financial and environmental sustainability come together. Sustainable Waterloo Region is helping the local business community, and Waterloo Region as a whole, become environmentally and economically sustainable and strong.
Written by Tova Davison, Executive Director, Sustainable Waterloo Region
We’re no strangers to New Year’s Resolutions – eat a bit healthier, save a bit more money, and spend a bit more time with people we love.
But how can we up our Resolution game? Just think a bit bigger – your workplace!
Here are our top 10 tips for a more sustainable future, tailored for organizational change. Try these ideas for a greener 2023, whether you’re ready to take new action yourself, or are looking to inspire your entire organization.
1 – Travel Sustainably
Consider ways to get to work sustainability. Whether it’s walking or biking, you (and your coworkers!) can reduce your impact. If your organization is near a transit stop, bussing can be another great option – especially in those chillier days. Want some help bringing greener transportation to your workplace? The TravelWise program can help you, just like we helped Cambridge Memorial Hospital staff.
2 – Measure What Matters
How much carbon does your organization emit? Not sure? That’s ok – we can help! The first step in reducing your impact is measurement. You can create a carbon baseline year from 2022 then work to reduce it just like our members Studio Locale, EY, and more. Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Impact Network program has all the resources you need. Get in touch to get started.
3 – Read Up
Take some time to time to read TransformWR, a community carbon reduction strategy, for lots of inspiration on how we can all be part of an equitable, prosperous, resilient, low carbon future. We all have a role to play in fighting climate change and this is a great place to find local actions!
4 – It’s 4 Rs Now
The 3 Rs you might remember have levelled up! Now there are 4 Rs to keep in mind. You’re probably familiar with Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, but in 2023, try Rethinking!
Rethink – This is your new starting point on how to minimize your impact on the environment. Consider an inhouse waste audit, with help from local consultant AET group! Home Hardware in St. Jacobs has a waste target you can use as inspiration.
5 – Rethink Promotional “Stuff”
Here’s a chance to rethink your organization’s promotional materials and gifts. Consider low-waste ways of showing appreciation – our favourites include e-cards, donations to charities, upcycled options, and experiences. These will all recognize your stakeholders and improve your brand. Or buy from responsible companies like those available through Change Lifestyle and Apparel.
6 – Get Planting!
If you have land around your office, consider planting a community garden for staff or a Microforest with SWR. You can also install a rain barrel to reduce your stormwater impact to not only keep your garden or forest nice and lush, but also save on your stormwater fees through the Cities of Kitchener or Waterloo!
7 – Leverage Solar
Electric vehicles (EVs) are in high demand and EV charging is a must in all innovative workplaces. If you are re-surfacing your parking lot, consider solar carports with EV chargers underneath – VCT Group can help. Want to see what this looks like? Visit the Cora Group’s evolv1 building (if you come to take a peek, pop in to say hello. We are in unit 102).
8 – Get Everyone Involved
Having a Culture of Sustainability makes going green at work even easier to implement. Think about how you can involve the culture in your strategic planning, leadership priorities, business operations, HR, finance, and more! The great folks at VERiS work to study the development of these cultures of sustainability and we work with member green teams, like YNCU, Conrad Grebel and MTE to implement this in ways that make businesses stronger. You can start building your own culture of sustainability in your workplace, too!
9 – Think Even Bigger
Environmental sustainability is only possible when we improve the other social issues we are facing. Read the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) to understand all the areas where we must move the needle together towards a better future. SWR offers measurement tools and support programs to implement these in your organization. It’s being done by innovative organizations across the Region, including Elmira’s Enviro-Stewards and the City of Kitchener, local leaders in SDGs.
10 – Support Climate Action
There are opportunities throughout the year to support your elected representatives on climate and sustainability topics. Share benefits and facts – and show your support through letters, calls, and delegations!
So that’s it. 10 ways to build on how we think about sustainability within our organizations. We know it can be intimidating to start, so check out Sustainable Waterloo Region’s website for how you can create a positive change in your workplace.