If COP26 taught us one thing about helping ensure we reach our net zero goal by 2050, it is that the world needs to work harder to limit its carbon emissions to ensure the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere rises no further.
Of course, the fact that a proportion of the UK workforce now permanently works from home hasn’t done the planet any harm, but that alone isn’t going to be enough to meet our net zero goals.
We all need to do our bit for the future of our planet and many RSK staff members are doing just that, both personally and in the way they work.
Our staff members are making positive changes to their lives by adapting their usual practices and following new ways of living – which combined, will go towards making a huge difference to the planet.
In the first of a series of articles about carbon reduction, we look at the ways in which just some RSK employees are changing their personal lives to help the planet.
Rhian Johnstone, RSK’s Financial Accounting Manager, has pledged to make a number of changes to her usual Christmas preparations. Not only will she be buying 50% of her Christmas presents from charity shops this year, but she has also reduced the number of clothes she purchases from ‘fast fashion’ companies that can have a severe impact on the planet, focusing instead on second-hand clothing and rental apps, as well as ethically produced clothing from small independent clothing brands.
Meanwhile, Bid Coordinator Natasha Nash has started cycling everywhere and has been looking at other ways to keep her carbon footprint down, predominantly through choosing sustainable products in her home, such as shampoo bars, wooden toothbrushes, ecological sponges and cloths for cleaning. She is also trying to be more sustainable in food preparation and is thinking about zero waste meals, coming up with some fantastic ideas on how to do this.
“There is a communal vegetable garden near me, which had a lot of pumpkin and courgette flowers to harvest,” says Natasha. “I stuffed them with herby lemon ricotta and steamed them with courgette risotto. It is a good example of foraging in cities and maybe having access to foods that are just not in the supermarket. For example, I took some kale from a restaurant in Betws-y-Coed that it was growing as ‘decorations’ and made kale chips with pumpkin hummus from the pumpkin guts saved from Halloween carving,” she explained.
Peter Taylor, Managing Director of Communication Services at RSK, has also been making changes to his diet: he and his family have become pescatarian.
“For a long time, I have liked the idea of eating more sustainably but not enough to give up meat or grow my own vegetables,” he said. “However, a few months ago, my wife discovered that she has an intolerance to some foods, including beef, and our nine-year-old eldest son announced his desire to go veggie. That was the nudge I needed, and three of the four of us are now pescatarian.
“Our younger son, who is seven, eats meat when he gets the chance, which isn’t often now the rest of us abstain. I thought it would be much more difficult than it is. Our next step will be to look more closely at the carbon footprint of the food we buy. We eat a lot of rice, for example, which has a higher carbon cost than potatoes.”
Chris Williams, Asset Management Consultant at Binnies, has been an advocate of all kinds of recycling for decades, and each year he tries to step up his efforts even more.
“I have become more determined this year to recycle those awkward items like razors, toothbrushes and sweet and biscuit wrappers,” he said. “I have made a suggestion to the SHEWS committee that we set up some Yammer pages for ‘where to recycle those awkward items’. Chris has also been slowly rewilding his garden and is looking into setting up recycling points in his local community.
Meanwhile, Melissa Quarterman, Business Development Manager at Cognica, has gone vegetarian twice a week and cuts out dairy once a week. She has also planted five additional trees in her garden and has switched from using paper notebooks to electronic ones.
“Now, I walk to the shops for small shopping trips rather than drive and choose greengrocers and butchers where I can buy vegetables without plastic,” Melissa says. “Baths are also banned in our house, and we now only have showers. We are educating ourselves on other ways to help the planet. I now have a key criterion at home for selecting our service providers on the basis of their sustainability credentials,” she adds.
Juliana Tan, Marketing Communications Manager at Binnies, has cut down on her food waste by turning leftovers into new dishes for other meals. With the current local COVID restrictions in place where she lives in tropical Singapore, Juliana now works out at home, using equipment substitutes such as foldable chairs, water bottles and pots and pans. She also refrains from using a tumble dryer, letting her clothes dry outside, and reuses her water for plants and general washing at home.
Helen Newhill, Digital Marketing Design Specialist at RSK, said, “I have been plastic-free on most of my bathroom products for while now. If they are not plastic-free, I buy from companies who reuse their bottles or recycle their own plastic bottles to make new ones. I have a reusable single blade safety razor and send the used blades to be recycled. I also gave up my car so now I go everywhere on foot or by public transport and we eat at least one plant-based meal a week,” she added.
So many RSK staff members are making laudable efforts to reduce their carbon footprints and these are just some of their stories. Next, we will be looking at the ways RSK employees have been cutting down on their emissions in the workplace.