Earlier this year, Changeworks’ Deputy Chief Executive Liz Partington shared some of the actions we can all take to play our part in tackling the global climate emergency. Here we look at another of those actions in more detail: greening your workplace.

That might seem like a huge topic, and it is certainly varied. It can mean everything from overhauling your vehicle fleet, to encouraging colleagues to turn their monitors off, to taking action to reduce food waste. It’s a combination of small actions and big changes that can help to reduce the environmental impact of your workplace.

Changeworks works with organisations, communities and businesses across Scotland to reduce their carbon footprint – and it’s important that Changeworks itself is also doing the same. In fact, Changeworks has to lead the way.

So how do we do that? How do we balance our needs and functions with being an exemplar when it comes to being green? By embedding it in everything we do. That’s why we thought we’d start off by telling you what Changeworks does – in a future blog, we’re going to tell you how you can take this inspiration and embed it where you work.

Changeworks has a well-established Green team, and they drive a lot of the improvements being made. Their action to reduce food waste was a great example of how to get staff involved in and enthused about making changes. Through a regular, fun and engaging campaign, with a mascot and encouraging materials, Changeworks’ food waste halved. Being able to monitor the results was crucial, so that evidence-based outcomes can be produced.

Not everything has to involve a large campaign or a big effort, small wins are important too. Our Green team regularly check if staff are turning off their monitors at night, and leave rewards if they are. They’ve also done things like setting up a cycling group, and created a store of communal containers staff can take on their lunch to avoid disposable packaging. All in all, our Green team are pretty successful - they even won a VIBES (Vision in Business for the Environment of Scotland) Award recognising their accomplishments. 

Green teams are a great way for staff to affect change from a grassroots level, directly implementing staff ideas and getting results. They can also help to embed the right mindset early on – at Changeworks, all staff get an environmental induction as soon as they walk in the door. Our Green team also has support from leadership, and that’s massively important to getting things done.

Some changes require action from the top, and that can mean a big change to things like transport. Transport is one of the biggest contributors to emissions, with traditional combustion cars a particular culprit. Changeworks recently overhauled our fleet to do away with the majority of petrol and diesel vehicles, replacing them with electric and hybrid options. The changes were more significant yet the approach was the same – just making the switch isn’t enough, the behaviour change of employees has to be encouraged and embedded. In this case, our Facilities team organised training and support to ensure staff felt confident in choosing the electric vehicles.

As an organisation Changeworks is committed to reducing our carbon footprint, and we monitor our footprint every year to check our progress in cutting our impact. This is a big job, as Changeworks has sites across Scotland, but it’s an important and integral part of our mission.

Hopefully hearing about how committed Changeworks is to being as environmentally friendly as possible has inspired you to start thinking about how you can make similar improvements where you work. If you’re looking for ideas, we’ve got you covered – stay tuned for our next blog for our top suggestions on what every organisation can do to save energy and carbon.