When we moved into our new office/warehouse/gym last year we tried to be both thoughtful and sustainable.
Yup that's not a joke - it's our office, it's where we store stock and being upstairs it has become our gym. Just imagine unloading a container of stock and taking it up a flight of stairs. We don't have to imagine!
We wanted to be thoughtful about how we set it up and personalised it as a Keeper space but also to be sustainable in everything we do.
So, we reached out to our community and were rewarded with generosity.
Firstly we got all of our computers and technology from e-waste and secondly we got our office furniture from a city office being stripped for new tenants.
It is incredible how much office waste there is. Here we were on the 30th floor of an inner Melbourne office building and half a floor of offices was being stripped to the walls and wires. What happens to the desks, chairs, cabinets and anything else left behind by previous tenants? You can guess. The companies doing the stripping try to co-ordinate with office furniture re-sellers. But the rising cost of storage has put many re-sellers out of business.
I was very happy with my filing cabinet which was found pre-labeled according to priorities, but many new corporations don't want a shabby pre-used look.
According to Better Building Projects an estimated 55,000 tonnes of office waste is discarded in Sydney alone each year. Melbourne and other cities are no different - and it's mostly kept behind closed doors. New tenants want an office fitted out and ready when they move in. The desk jockey doesn't stop to question where their desk came from and what happened to the old occupant of this carpet tile.
And that is exactly where sustainability starts. It starts with a question. The connivence of plastic bags in produce departments and bottled water and take away coffee... all went unquestioned until we started to see the physical consequences. Now we're back paddling to try and slow, stop and hopefully reverse the damage done in less than a generation.
The first official plastic bag was only created in 1965 by Sten Gustaf Thulin, an employee at a company called Celloplast. But they were not widely available until 1985 by which time about 75% of retailers were offering them as an option alongside paper. That's around the year I was born!
Like many inventions taken out of context, Sten originally created the plastic bag as what he saw as an eco-alternative to cutting down so many trees for paper bags. His intention was that, unlike paper bags at the time, plastic bags would be reused!
What else should we be questioning before it spirals out of control?
On the bright side, there are many companies trying to curb this landslide of waste we have going on. Some of these are:
Egans - with their motto of a shift in thinking they aim to drive greener actions and commit to reuse and proper recycling
Sustainable Office Solutions - created from a desire to limit the amount of perfectly good office furniture that was going to landfill.
Business Recycling - a comprehensive online database that helps businesses find recycling collection and support services for the workplace.
The new home of The Keeper: Upstairs from Winterwood Toys
What have you reclaimed in your workspace?