This is a guest post from Katie Chodosh, content consultant at TopLine Comms.
Sustainability is an ongoing business issue, but #PlasticFreeJuly gives us all a good excuse to think about it a little more. And PR agencies and departments are in a particularly good position to lead the charge: it’s our job to make companies look good (and responsible) and giveaways tend to come under our remit too. That’s why we wanted to get a better understanding of how people view sustainability when they’re choosing a job and what we can do as an agency to be a little greener.
First, TopLine Film surveyed 1,000 office workers on workplace sustainability. Nearly a quarter (24%) said they would refuse a job at an organisation with a poor sustainability record, and three quarters (73%) would like to see their workplace improve its sustainability record.
Then, we surveyed the TopLine Comms team to get an idea of their position on sustainability, and to see what ideas they had for us. The majority (94%) are committed to protecting the environment and agree that we should have a sustainability policy in place.
Here are some of our tips for becoming a more sustainable PR agency, which you can easily implement for #PlasticFreeJuly and beyond.
1. Ban single use plastics
Banning single use plastics is probably the quickest and easiest policy to implement. TopLine is officially a plastic-free zone. We’ve given all staff reusable cups and plan to get some reusable straws in, too. If other businesses can’t afford to do this, then team members could be encouraged to bring a reusable cup from home.
2. Think twice about your giveaways
Consumers’ interests in PR stunts are being outweighed by their commitment to sustainability. Times are changing, and the old PR and marketing stunts need to evolve. Most people are much more conscious about unnecessary plastic and waste, so bear this in mind before giving away any unnecessary plastic items.
3. Ask ‘is it sustainable?’ before launching a campaign
Before launching a PR campaign, make sure you’ve double checked that every element is as sustainable as possible. It’s easy to get carried away – for example, you might want to have balloons at your event or serve drinks at your stand in plastic cups. But these are the exact types of activities that create a lot of unnecessary waste. Add the question ‘is it sustainable’ to any checklists or brainstorms that you have before launching campaigns and you should catch them in time.
4. Implement a switch-off policy and stick to it
We’ve also introduced a policy for everyone to turn off their computers and other devices at the end of every day. We know it’s easy to forget, but it makes a big difference for energy consumption, so we’ve put up visible reminders and have vowed to hold everyone accountable.
5. Make time for volunteering
Another policy we’ve implemented at TopLine is to volunteer time to environmental and sustainable activities. We’re looking at eco-friendly initiatives like picking up litter or helping plant trees locally and will take time out of the working day to do it.
6. Reduce, reuse, recycle
All agencies should have a robust recycling system in place. It really couldn’t be easier to get separate bins and as long as they’re signposted clearly, all staff should be capable of putting the right item in the right bin.
7. Print less
Printing less in the office should be easy enough, but you should also consider printing less materials for trade shows. Press packs are increasingly outdated and flyers are often put straight in the bin. If you have to print, at least make sure the paper you’re using is recycled, recyclable and printed on both sides.
8. Ask your suppliers about their sustainability policies
If you work with a lot of suppliers, it’s important to remember that you’re just one part of the chain – so it’s worth asking other suppliers what their position is on sustainability. This will highlight your company’s commitment and challenges them to start thinking about greener practices. They might even give you some ideas for your own sustainability policy.
We’ve really enjoyed the process of creating a more sustainable work environment and we’d like to challenge other PR teams to do the same. Start by talking to your team about what they’re passionate about and they’ll be more inclined to stick to them. Creating effective sustainability policies relies on your staff to stick to them, so make sure you get them involved in the process.