Safety vs Sustainability
As we prepare our return-to-work, the number one priority for everyone is safety!
As our team here at Crafty has been building Return-to-Work programs with our clients, we've faced a difficult realization: many of our safety initiatives come at a cost to Mother Earth.
This is really unfortunate, as many of our clients have made incredible progress with their own in-office sustainability initiatives.
Workplace sustainability initiatives have garnered so much momentum over the last decade, and yet, the sudden arrival of COVID-19 is challenging our progress head-on.
In chatting through this reality with workplace expert Eric Kerr, he emphasized the side of human nature that comes to bear in situations like this.
“In the short term, anxiety and fear about personal safety will be a lot stronger than feelings about the environment. People will be very quick to using disposables, because they will know they’re safe.”
Eric Kerr, Workplace Experience, formerly WeWork, BlackRock
Whether we are thinking about single serve products or single use supplies, the environmental impact of these changes will be unfortunate. There’s no other way to slice it. It’s a bummer. But, there are things we can do!
While we certainly need to prioritize safety over sustainability, both safety and sustainability can and should coexist.
Here are two key themes to keep in mind as you adapt your workplace food & beverage program to favor safety over everything:
Kerr also noted that with our communication, we need to not only recognize the consequence of these near-term safety initiatives, but we also need to address them head-on in our messaging to the broader employee base. We need to lay it all out on the table.
That's the truth. The key is awareness.
Take the switchover from bulk items to single serve items. We need to communicate the positives (i.e., safety) and the negatives (i.e., increased use of plastic) of the changes we are making.
It's important to callout the fact that we are going to be accruing some serious environmental debt.
As we prioritize safety over the environment, we are going to be accumulating some temporary environmental debt, which is the accumulation of environmental impacts owed to future generations.
We all understand why - it's OK that we are prioritizing our safety right now!
At Crafty, we believe very strongly in clear reporting. Reporting on the environmental impact of our near-term decisions is a great way to continue advancing our sustainability initiatives in the long-run.
In looking at the usage numbers for certain packaging types (e.g., plastic bottles) or products (e.g., disposable cups), we will see increased consumption during this post-COVID crisis era.
That’s okay, as long as we make up for this near-term increase in the long-run.
Imagine this: what if at the end of this COVID madness, your WOF Team (Workplace, Office, Facilities) reported on the increased usage of these items, and then most importantly, outlined initiatives and goals for your team to make up for the usage?
We could keep everyone motivated and working towards that goal of reversing the impact, and then throw a Happy Hour or celebration when we hit our goal?!
A kid can dream...