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Why businesses should invest in composting their waste

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Compost by Normanack via Flickr

As consumers, potential clients, and your current staff become more environmentally conscious, your business’s green credentials are going to be increasingly closely scrutinised. The larger the company you own or work for, the truer this is.

As a result, sustainability is high on the list of many business’s priorities. Despite this, composting is rarely considered by businesses as a way to reduce their carbon emissions and help the planet.

While many of us are well aware of the damage being caused by global warming, one area that is frequently overlooked is the huge amount of food being wasted in the UK — despite the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimating around 10 million tonnes of perfectly good food went to waste between 2013 and 2016. As we spend a good portion of our time in the workplace, our efforts to be environmentally conscious shouldn’t stop when we enter the office, and it is UK business’ duty to provide the frameworks that people can use to compost their unused food rather than waste it.

With that being said, what are the benefits of investing in composting for companies?

Firstly, providing the infrastructure and equipment to facilitate and encourage the composting of food waste within your workplace will improve your company’s green credentials. This will make your business a more attractive place to work for both existing and potential employees, and it can be utilised in your marketing materials, which could help you land more clients or customers. In this day and age, people want to work for, do business with, and buy from companies who do their bit for the environment — adding a composting scheme to your existing green efforts can help your business in all of these areas.

Starting a composting scheme in your workplace can be as simple as purchasing a compost bin and a few caddies that your staff can deposit their compostable food waste into. A few posters and emails will be enough to advertise the new system, and it can be a good idea to put a trusted employee in charge of adding the waste to the compost bin whenever the caddies get full.

Some businesses may be put off the idea of producing their own compost because they think the equipment will be unsightly or take up a lot of space. However, pick up a handy gadget like a Mantis Compact Compostumbler and it won’t take up too much room or be an eye-sore. Plus, it doesn’t take someone with green fingers to operate it — anyone can simply crank the handle at regular intervals.

What can your business use the compost for?

According to a recent study by Dr Chris Knight of Exeter University, adding one houseplant per square meter of office space can increase workplace productivity by up to 15%. This remarkable statistic shows the importance of plants in an office environment, and you can turn food waste into fertiliser for your workplace greenery. This will keep your office plants nice and healthy, which has the added benefit of helping to keep productivity levels high.

If you work in an office complex, there may be outdoor flower arrangements that also add to your staff’s happiness and productivity levels. Producing your own compost will cut down on the costs of maintaining these flowers, as well as make your employees feel more connected to the garden.

If you own a smaller business with only a handful of staff members, it may not make sense to start composting yourself, as you won’t produce enough food waste to make a meaningful amount of fertiliser. However, this doesn’t mean the food you and your employees don’t consume needs to go completely to waste — download a free app called OLIO and you’ll be able to share your surplus food with local residents rather than throw it away. This app allows even the smallest businesses to do their bit for the planet by cutting down on their food waste.

Hopefully this article has provided food for thought for any business owners interested in improving the sustainability of their business. Composting is rarely considered as an option for workplaces, but it provides a simple and elegant solution to the UK’s food waste problem, and offers a great way for companies to reduce their carbon footprint even further.

 

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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