How to go greener (and save money)

Students and professionals sitting at round tables while a speaker makes a presentation to the room.Whether it’s the recent news coverage about plastic coffee cups or because you’ve been watching Blue Planet II, you might be thinking about how you can be a bit friendlier to the environment in all aspects of your life, including at work.

This is especially the case for voluntary or community organisations, who may feel the onus is on them to set a good example to the rest of the world.

But how do you go about convincing the organisation you work for to go greener, especially when you and your colleagues are already busy?

Three years ago I was involved in setting up a programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Bright Green Business, where students took part in placements with our grantholders to reduce their environmental footprint.

This week I was delighted to attend a learning event with some of those students, who told us about the most effective ways to convince organisations to become greener – which are tools you can use at our own organisation as well!

Here are the top 5 tips from the students:

1) Know your audience

Students found that by tailoring their messaging to their audience they achieved more positive results.

So when speaking to boards or committees, highlighting the financial benefits of making environmental change was useful. On the other hand, when engaging with the wider community, talking about the impact the change would have on them or the local area was best.

2) Make your message accessible to everyone

This can be about making sure activities being run to educate people about good environmental practice are open to all members of the community, or as simple as using pictures alongside words to help people with challenges around language.

Several large square growing areas with a variety of plants growing in them, with houses in the background

3) Don’t forget social media

In a couple of placements, students used social media (primarily Facebook) to help take their message to the wider community.

Our grantholders were very impressed with the outcomes as people in their community thought they were more accessible, friendlier and less intimidating, which increased interest in their wider work.

4) Create a league table

Healthy competition can help reinforce change, so creating a table that compares the performance of green initiatives can make a real difference.

This could include tracking the amount of your organisations’ waste going to landfill on a weekly basis, to try and do better than you did last week.

Alternatively, organisations in the local community could compete against each other to see who is making more of an environmental saving.

5) Don’t reinvent the wheel

Lastly, many students used free resources such as Resource Efficient Scotland and Creative Carbon Scotland to help them deliver their projects. So make sure you make use of the information already out there!

I hope these five tips are helpful for you if you’re hoping to make your place of work more environmentally friendly – and ideally save some money in the process.

Using these tools the students achieved amazing results during their placements – from recommending a social enterprise make apple juice from an orchard in Huntly, to shining a spotlight on the good practice of community football clubs around Scotland.

For more information on the Placement scheme, you can also visit:

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