A few months ago, the Go Well team started an exciting new chapter by moving into our own office space in Grey Lynn. Coming from a shared office situation, we brought almost nothing to the new space (bar our laptops), so it’s been a big task to get ourselves set up. We’re great at talking the talk about sustainability, but we really wanted to walk the walk with this move and demonstrate circular economy principles and business models. Now that we’re feeling more settled, we wanted to share some of the key actions we took.
Getting set up
Our new office came completely unfurnished, bar a couple of chairs, so we needed to source a lot of key items for the space. Our focus was on sourcing secondhand wherever possible, leasing where practical, and buying local and sustainably made items if we did have to buy new. We managed to source almost all our furniture secondhand using a range of providers and platforms: AllHeart for desk and “board room” chairs and bar stools, TradeMe for a bar leaner, secondhand stores and community recycling centres (like Onehunga Recycling Centre and Habitat for Humanity) for kitchen items, and a secondhand boardroom table from our friends at Design Dairy. In terms of electronics, we needed computer monitors and a TV; quality secondhand electronics can be hard to come by, so we opted to lease through Brightly . The only major thing we did buy new for the office was our desks. Knowing the negative health impact of sitting at a desk all day, it was really important for us to be able to offer standing desks for all our staff, so we decided to go with StandDesk, a New Zealand-owned company with a commitment to sustainability. However, rather than going with StandDesk’s wooden tops we couldn’t get the level of traceability we needed, we decided to order desk tops from SaveBoard, which are made from recycled Tetra Pak. Check out SaveBoard’s funky finish below.
We also created a reusables library of coffee cups and secondhand containers, to make it easier for staff to avoid single-use packaging when out buying coffees and lunches. To provide us with some more life in the office, help with air quality and our creativity (look up the research), and help remind us of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, we have a range of NZ native plants in pots both indoors and on our deck. Two key next goals for us are getting the body corp to approve a bike park, and get solar panels installed. Watch this space!
A critical part of creating a sustainable office is to send no materials to landfill. This requires making sure collections and bins are in place for all relevant material streams and that everyone is clear on what goes where.
The complex that our office is in already had access to the standard council collections of landfill and recycling. But knowing what we know we made sure that our organics were diverted for composting, and that other “hard to recycle” items were collected for “drop-off” recycling solutions. We now have a weekly compost collection with Soil Factory, which offers a collection service (by e-bike) for parts of Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, and Herne Bay, with compost being taken to Kelmarna Gardens or Francis Reserve and supports their regenerative food system. We created a ‘materials directory’ for all items that can’t be recycled through standard kerbside collection, but can be dropped off for recycling with certain providers/organisations:
- Soft plastics: supermarkets participating in the soft plastics recycling scheme
- Batteries: Bunnings’ battery recycling program
- Electronic waste: Noel Leeming’s e-waste recycling service
- Light bulbs: Mitre 10’s Lightbulb Recycle program
- Metal bottle caps: Go Recycle metal recycling
- Colgate oral care and packaging: stores/schools participating in Terracycle’s oral care recycling scheme
With all of our collections in place, we have able to avoid having a landfill bin at all, and are proud to be a zero-waste office!
We’re a printer and paper-free office, so basically the only items we need to procure regularly are kitchen supplies (tea, coffee, milk, cleaning products etc) and toilet paper. Fortunately, our new office is just a short walk from a GoodFor store, where we can get most of our kitchen supplies packaging free. We take our jars there regularly to fill up on coffee, tea, and occasional other goodies like pretzels and chips. We pop next door to a local supermarket to buy our Otis oat milk – a former client and a business doing a lot of great work in the sustainability space. We get our electricity through Ecotricity: New Zealand’s first and only Toitū climate positive certified electricity from 100% wind, hydro, and solar.
Given the work we do, our staff are all super passionate about sustainability and already engage in a lot of positive, impact-reducing behaviours, however we know there’s always room for improvement. One of the things we’ve done to encourage learning and positive behaviour change is setting up a sustainability library with books covering a range of topics, (including climate science, regeneration, and anthropology), which our staff can borrow books from any time. We also recently hosted a potluck documentary night as a social event for our team, to encourage further learning.
It has to be acknowledged that taking all the steps above to make our office move a sustainable one has taken time. We’ve had to forgo some luxuries (it took us a painful few days to get a secondhand coffee maker and took a decent amount of time to build our desks!) and we’re still adding decorative touches to the space (including buying and painting second hand picture frames), but we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved. Almost every item of furniture and kitchen utensil has a story attached to it, and we’re grateful for them in a way that we wouldn’t be if they’d simply arrived packaged and new on our first day in the office. It takes some extra mahi and resourcefulness, but making your office – or home – move more sustainable has huge benefits: it reduces your environmental impact, saves you money, and gives you a lasting sense of pride.
Keen to know what else you can be doing to make your workplace more sustainable? Get in touch.
Written by Kate Lodge, Sustainability Consultant at Go Well Consulting.