The saying, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”, is a favourite here at Maggie Marilyn, and one we come back to often.
In the pursuit of our audacious goals to transform the fashion industry and influence systemic change, we know we'll encounter obstacles. But when it comes to protecting the health of our planet, we believe that facing those obstacles with a problem-solving attitude is our best asset.
The workplace is such a great example of this: It can be easy to look at your current office, classroom, or work-from-home set up and see challenges, but at MM we also see solutions!
So here are three key things that we prioritise in our office to keep us on track towards our goal of a sustainable and circular fashion industry. We hope they can serve as inspiration for your own work environment.
To be a truly sustainable business, we need to ensure we aren’t sending any materials to landfill where they will be wasted. Recycling capabilities vary hugely from town to town and, sadly, contamination is a huge problem - contaminating your recycling bin by throwing in the wrong piece of rubbish can mean the whole bin of recyclables has to go to landfill.
For MM, accountability means maintaining a clearly communicated bin system for all of our recyclables, soft plastics, and food scraps. To minimise recyclables being thrown into the main garbage, we don't have personal bins - our only bins are in the kitchen and the bathroom. We also have a poster above our rubbish area which explains the different ways we separate things, for example, "If your piece of rubbish was once alive - it can be composted!".
If your office has a cleaning partner, make sure you engage with them too so they can work with the system. And if you're unsure what the recycling capabilities are in your city or town, check out the website of your local council or talk to your office's waste management company to make sure you know what is accepted for recycling. Remember: avoiding contamination is crucial.
Deforestation is causing immense harm to our planet and printing paper is a significant contributor. Map out your current paper usage and set targets to get your paper usage as close to zero as possible! Two great places to start: Think before you print (Do I really need to print the agenda for today's meeting or can I email it to everyone instead?), and if you're an avid note-taker like us, switch to taking paperless notes using an online alternative - we love Evernote! For the paper you do have, make sure it is certified from managed forests or from recycled sources.
Turn off the lights!
If we want to transition the world to being exclusively powered by renewable energy (and we do!), then we need the wastage of electricity to reduce dramatically. In our office, this means making sure lights and appliance aren’t left on when they’re not needed and switching all our light bulbs to LED bulbs which are much more efficient. If your office is conducive to it, you could also look at installing motion sensors to turn lights on and off as required - fancy!
And lastly, we need to help each other to learn new behaviours. Learning a new behaviour is hard - especially if you have a lot of work on your plate, as so many of us often do, but keeping each other accountable is the quickest way to affect real change, as long as it's done with kindness and patience.
What does an environmentally-minded workplace look like for you?
Share your best advice and tips in the comments below.