Celebrated for more than 40 years in over 100 countries, World Environment Day has become a global platform for raising awareness about important environmental issues. Each year, a different theme or topic is chosen. And this year, it’s air pollution.
Air pollution is everywhere, it’s just you can’t really see it.
Things like energy production, the global transport sector, and burning of agricultural waste contribute significantly to air pollution levels. But so do our households, with the indoor burning of wood and other fossil fuels.
According to a news story from the World Health Organisation, 9 out of 10 people worldwide are exposed to levels of air pollution that exceed safety levels. This is a hard-hitting statistic which makes you think we should all be doing more to improve the air around us.
As the environmental manager for Companies House, a large part of my role is dedicated to researching and implementing environmental efficiencies.
My primary goal is to reduce the impact we have on the environment. This involves looking at the best ways to actively manage our waste, emissions and consumption of natural resources. It also includes raising awareness of environmental issues with my colleagues, encouraging them to be more mindful about the choices they make in the workplace.
Making simple changes, whether it’s printing less, putting your plastic bottles and cans into dedicated recycle bins or recycling old pens, all add up to make a difference.
Our Environmental Working Group
Tackling environmental issues on your own in a large organisation can feel a bit daunting. So, in May 2018 I set up the Companies House Environmental Working Group (EWG).
Twelve people from across the business joined the group and we meet every 3 months to discuss environmental issues and agree priorities for our organisation. The main purpose of the group is to:
- make sure there are continual environmental improvements across all areas of Companies House
- have a clear role in identifying opportunities for change and workplace efficiencies
- communicate important environmental issues to our colleagues and stakeholders
- review business processes to consider environmental impact
The work of the EWG is key in identifying where our efforts should be focused, and we’ve made a real difference across a number of areas. At our Cardiff office, we’ve:
- removed over 152,000 single-use plastic items
- implemented a crisp packet recycling scheme
- reduced our paper consumption by 3,610 reams
- installed a nextbike docking station close to our office
- saved 26,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions
These are amazing achievements. I’m really proud of our group and everyone at Companies House for their ongoing commitment to making sustainable changes.
World Environment Day
Today, we have some local nursery children visiting our Cardiff office.
We recently donated 3 of our surplus computers to Blue Door Nursery. As a thank you, the children have made us some pictures using only recycled material and waste to highlight the issues of ocean pollution and waste plastics. We’re proudly displaying this beautiful artwork in the reception area of our office.
For World Environment Day, our EWG has also been encouraging colleagues to consider alternative travel options before making the journey to work.
1. Car sharing
Increasing the number of people travelling in one car reduces pollution, helps with congestion and saves money. As a bonus, car sharers are given priority spaces in our office car park.
Cycling is one of the most sustainable modes of transport. We have a secure bike park and offer some fantastic initiatives like the Cycle to Work scheme that all colleagues can benefit from.
3. Public transport
Opting to use public transport significantly reduces air pollution, even if it’s only occasionally. Public transport is more fuel efficient per passenger mile. It reduces traffic congestion and increases healthier habits by walking to and from the bus stop or train station.
An excellent, low impact way to get around. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes or trainers and you’re good to go.
Making alternative choices like these will potentially save money, make us a little healthier and save the planet at the same time.