Promoting Sustainability: Small In-Office Tweaks that Have Made a Big Impact
It’s fair to say that the past decade has presented more than its fair share of challenges for individuals around the globe. While many of these challenges are unique to certain individuals, communities and economies, there is one shared concern that remains top-of-mind for many: the environment. As of March 2020, six in 10 adults in the U.S. alone noted global climate change as a major threat to their country, up from 44% in 2009, indicating a growing awareness of our carbon footprints and their impact on the environment.
On April 22, we celebrate Earth Day – one of the longest-running initiatives to increase awareness of environmental problems. In the 51 years since its inception, Earth Day has encouraged millions of people to shift their mindsets and view our planet through a more eco-friendly lens, helping them become more aware of the environment and take action to sustain our planet’s natural beauty and resources. While there are countless advancements in technology and other sustainability initiatives happening around the globe, there is still much work to be done – and the change we seek begins within our own walls.
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, companies around the world – accesso included – shifted to a remote work environment for the safety and wellbeing of employees and partners. While implemented out of necessity, we’ve seen the positive impacts remote work can have on the health of our planet, with a record-breaking 7% drop in global carbon emissions – representing 34 billion tons in fossil emissions – over the last year. At the accesso Lake Mary office – which hosts 190 employees, nearly half our global workforce – we’ve saved nearly 900 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into our atmosphere by working remotely!
Even once it is safe for our team to return to the in-office work environment, accesso is dedicated to preserving the health and wellness of both our employees and the planet we call home. Sustainability is a driving force behind all that we do as a company, from pioneering innovative technology solutions that help our clients go green to implementing environmentally responsible initiatives at our offices, and we take pride in our long-standing commitment to creating an eco-friendly workplace. With a handful of small tweaks to our own habits and a little bit of creativity, each of us has the ability – and responsibility – to live an environmentally conscious lifestyle at home and in the workplace.
At accesso, we’re firm believers in leading by example, so we’ve taken matters into our own hands to lessen our carbon footprint, making it convenient to reduce, reuse and recycle within our facilities while meeting the individual needs and habits of our team.
The United States generates nearly 300 million tons of waste every year, which is enough trash to reach the moon and back … 25 times! This massive amount of waste is overwhelming our landfills and, consequently, requiring more to be built. Sadly, the more waste we put in the ground, the more our landfills release methane gas and leachate, two huge contributors to air and water pollution.
While recycling has been touted as the common solution to this long-standing issue, researchers estimate that only 9% of plastic ever produced has actually been recycled. With this in mind, accesso has implemented a number of programs and new offerings to allow our offices to reduce waste by limiting or eliminating the use of single-use plastics.
For those in need of a morning or midday coffee fix, we’ve implemented a coffee-pod recycling program in our cafés and have for many years provided dishwasher-safe coffee mugs (and several dishwashers) so our team can avoid using disposable cups for their morning brew. For the soda lovers on our team, we’ve invested in Coca-Cola Freestyle machines to avoid the waste generation of typical plastic bottle/aluminum can vending machines. And for our water enthusiasts, we have water-filling stations around the building for easy access to clean, freshly filtered H20.
Our commitment to waste reduction extends far beyond beverage picks – we purchase all snacks and condiments in bulk while also providing reusable utensils and dishware for employee use. Understanding that completely eliminating plastic isn’t a realistic expectation in every case, especially during a global pandemic, our cafés also include recycling containers for plastic, cardboard and aluminum items as a green alternative for our team members once they return to in-office work.
While these changes may seem small, it’s important to note that our actions now will have an immense ripple effect on the health of the environment for generations to come. This means being mindful of the materials we’re consuming and consciously deciding what happens to them after we’re done. To put things into perspective, recycling just 10 plastic bottles saves enough energy to power a laptop computer for a whole 24 hours! So always keep in mind, when it comes to our planet, small changes can yield big results.
At accesso, we use technology to accomplish more with less stress and empower our clients to do the same. But, in order to develop the groundbreaking technologies, we’re so proud to deliver, we need energy – and lots of it. Yet, as of today, more than one-third of the world’s energy is generated from coal-fired power plants, which not only emit harmful gases into the atmosphere but also utilize one of the few finite energy sources available today.
In an effort to conserve energy – and reduce air pollution in the process – we’ve centered our attention on actionable steps to decrease our paper utilization, a common source of energy and material waste in the typical office environment. With the average office worker using 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year, we’ve implemented actions such as: converting from paper forms to online submissions for our internal, team-building award nominations, using e-fax instead of a traditional fax machine, installing dry erase boards in meeting rooms, implementing a digital invoicing system and more. We’re confident that modern technology, coupled with a change of habit, has real potential to reduce paper waste for years to come, and we’re excited to be a part of this movement.
Along with cutting back on excessive use of paper, our office managers intentionally purchase recycled ink toners and only utilize energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs throughout our international offices. Even in the current remote work environment, there are still measures that can be taken to save energy, including the use of LED light bulbs (which last 108% longer than a regular incandescent) turning off devices when not in use, investing in devices that are ENERGY STAR compliant and more.
Volunteering Time & Resources
How one spends their time says a lot about their belief system and values. At accesso, we choose to spend our time creating a real, tangible impact in our communities. For example, over the years, our employees at the Lake Mary office have participated in dedicated volunteer time off (VTO) to host multiple clean-up events at Sylvan Lake Park, Trotter’s Park/College Park Little League Fields and other nature-centric destinations throughout Central Florida.
Aside from being unsightly, littering poses serious threats for the environment. The most commonly littered items include fast food trash and cigarette butts, both of which degrade into unnatural chemicals that eventually make their way into our soil and, potentially, our fresh water sources. Our accesso team has found these volunteer days bring not only personal satisfaction from giving back to their local community, but also true fulfillment in helping to protect animals, birds and plant life from the risks that excessive trash build-up brings.
Our team at accesso is keenly aware that every decision we make has the potential to impact generations to come, so we are intentional in rolling up our sleeves to make our planet more habitable and offering multiple avenues for our employees to contribute.
Living more sustainably is a straightforward process, but one that requires putting extra thought into our daily activities, whether that be reducing energy consumption, cutting back on water use or simply re-purposing goods. As Newton’s third law states, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, which proves that everything we do – as a whole and as individuals – is interconnected on some level. We recognize this interconnectivity in our own day-to-day duties, whole-heartedly accept the role we can play in keeping our Earth beautiful and are proud to empower our team members around the globe to do the same.
Special thanks to our contributors for this piece: Rhonda Manfredo - Administrative Services Manager, Rebecca Potter - Learning & Engagement Coordinator, Missy Chamberlain - Sales Engineer, Valerie Schein – Director of Marketing, Lynette Williams - Digital Marketing Coordinator, and Maura Schiefelbein – Senior Vice President of People.