Environmental management – black and white, or shades of grey?

Sustainability

Environmental management – black and white, or shades of grey?

As you may be aware, I’ve been thinking about ‘plastic soup’ a lot recently. I’ve been thinking about my clients, but also my personal environmental impact in relation to the clothes that I wear.

Inevitably, they are not all made from natural fibres, and we now know that the fibres from clothing break off when we are wearing the clothes as well as when we wash them, causing significant pollution issues when those fibres are made from plastic.

It’s an easy conclusion to reach that I should wash those clothes less (within the bounds of social acceptability!), and possibly even wear those clothes less. But should I replace them with clothes made from natural fibres? And if I did, what should I do with the old clothes?

My usual reaction to questions like this is to think that it’s better to use something that’s already made because of the environmental impacts associated with buying replacements.

But is that the case here? Do the environmental impacts of continuing to use man-made fibres outweigh the environmental impacts of replacement?

As is so often the case with environmental issues, that’s not an easy question to answer. It reminded me of how, in environmental management, we rarely deal with black and white issues. We have to get used to working in shades of grey and making judgements according to our priorities, based on an imperfect amount of information.

What are the environmental issues that you’re wrestling with at the moment?

Improve your employees’ safety and environmental performance

Last weekend, I did a one day IAM Roadsmart training day on driving safely. We were taught to look ahead, anticipate, accelerate gently and slow down by reducing pressure on the accelerator (you don’t always need to brake). We were reminded of the importance of ensuring that our cars are well maintained, and told about how the motorways are the safest place to drive. All of these things combine to make our driving safer. They also make our driving more fuel efficient.

Is it worth considering some IAM Roadsmart training for your employees who drive a lot? It could improve their safety, improve your environmental performance (and fuel bills), and even reduce your insurance premiums if they become Advanced Drivers.

How do you use the space around your buildings?

During a recent trip across the Netherlands, I noticed that the grass verges around buildings are often used to graze sheep, goats and chickens. Letting someone in the local community, or maybe one of your staff, use the land around your building for food production could save on maintenance costs, reduce food miles and provide a better environment for your staff during breaks.  I have only once seen this done in the UK – with a few chickens taking up an unused corner of a maintenance yard.

Is this something you could introduce at your site? Would you want to?

Is it time to switch to electric vehicles?

With some car manufacturers offering diesel scrappage schemes and the driving range of electric vehicles increasing all the time, is now the right time to consider switching for your business?

There are over 5,000 charging points in the UK, so, along with the increasing driving range of electric cars, switching is beginning to look more feasible.

Where do red or blue colour-coded drains actually go to?

During a visit to a manufacturing plant the other day, I was pleased to note that the drains were all clearly marked with blue and red paint. As you may be aware, this is a fairly standard means of colour-coding, so I knew what it meant.

However, the operatives I spoke to didn’t know what the colours meant.  Do you and your employees know where different drains go to? Do they understand the implications?

I loved these drain covers I saw in Vancouver, which make it absolutely clear that the drains lead to a local fish habitat.